The Mammals of Texas

[ Texas ]

The Mammals of Texas

Revised Edition

By David J. Schmidly

The most authoritative source of information on the mammalian wildlife of Texas.

Number Fifty-nine



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6 1/8 x 9 1/4 | 521 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-70241-7

The Mammals of Texas has been the standard reference since the first edition was authored by William B. Davis in 1947. Revised several times over the succeeding decades, it remains the most authoritative source of information on the mammalian wildlife of Texas.

This new edition has been thoroughly updated and expanded from the previous one in 1994. Of particular importance are the changes it records in species status and distribution. New materials in this edition include lists of subspecies, a brief description of the conservation status of each species, and an expanded introductory section that discusses historical changes in Texas mammals and the history of mammalogy in Texas. The book also contains a thorough overview of the mammals of Texas, abundant photographs and drawings, distribution maps, physical descriptions, and life histories for 184 species of mammals.

Download the color insert here.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Texas Mammals
    • Diversity of Land Mammals
    • Geographic Distribution of Land Mammals
    • Mammals of the Barrier Islands of Texas
    • Diversity of Mammals in the Coastal Waters and Gulf of Mexico
    • Historical Changes in the Texas Mammal Fauna
    • History of Mammalogy in Texas
    • Conservation Strategies
    • Key to the Major Groups (Orders) of Mammals in Texas
  • Order Didelphimorphia (opossums and allies)
    • Family Didelphidae (opossums)
      • Virginia Opossum, Didelphis virginiana
  • Order Xenarthra (armadillos, sloths, and allies)
    • Family Dasypodidae (armadillos)
      • Nine-banded Armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus
  • Order Insectivora (shrews and moles)
    • Key to the Insectivores of Texas
    • Family Soricidae (shrews)
      • Southern Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina carolinensis
      • Elliot's Short-tailed Shrew, Blarina hylophaga
      • Least Shrew, Cryptotis parva
      • Desert Shrew, Notiosorex crawfordi
    • Family Talpidae (moles)
      • Eastern Mole, Scalopus aquaticus
  • Order Chiroptera (bats)
    • Key to the Bats of Texas
    • Family Mormoopidae (mormoopid bats)
      • Ghost-faced Bat, Mormoops megalophylla
    • Family Phyllostomidae (leaf-nosed bats)
      • Mexican Long-tongued Bat, Choeronycteris mexicana
      • Mexican Long-nosed Bat, Leptonycteris nivalis
      • Hairy-legged Vampire Bat, Diphylla ecaudata
    • Family Vespertilionidae (vespertilionid bats)
      • Southeastern Myotis, Myotis austroriparius
      • California Myotis, Myotis californicus
      • Western Small-footed Myotis, Myotis ciliolabrum
      • Southwestern Little Brown Bat, Myotis occultus
      • Northern Long-eared Myotis, Myotis septentrionalis
      • Fringed Myotis, Myotis thysanodes
      • Cave Myotis, Myotis velifer
      • Long-legged Myotis, Myotis volans
      • Yuma Myotis, Myotis yumanensis
      • Western Red Bat, Lasiurus blossevillii
      • Eastern Red Bat, Lasiurus borealis
      • Hoary Bat, Lasiurus cinereus
      • Southern Yellow Bat, Lasiurus ega
      • Northern Yellow Bat, Lasiurus intermedius
      • Seminole Bat, Lasiurus seminolus
      • Western Yellow Bat, Lasiurus xanthinus
      • Silver-haired Bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans
      • Western Pipistrelle, Pipistrellus hesperus
      • Eastern Pipistrelle, Pipistrellus subflavus
      • Big Brown Bat, Eptesicus fuscus
      • Evening Bat, Nycticeius humeralis
      • Spotted Bat, Euderma maculatum
      • Rafinesque's Big-eared Bat, Corynorhinus rafinesquii
      • Townsend's Big-eared Bat, Corynorhinus townsendii
      • Pallid Bat, Antrozous pallidus
    • Family Molossidae (free-tailed bats)
      • Brazilian Free-tailed Bat, Tadarida brasiliensis
      • Pocketed Free-tailed Bat, Nyctinomops femorosaccus
      • Big Free-tailed Bat, Nyctinomops macrotis
      • Western Mastiff Bat, Eumops perotis
  • Order Carnivora (carnivores)
    • Key to the Carnivores of Texas
    • Family Canidae (canids)
      • Coyote, Canis latrans
      • Gray Wolf, Canis lupus
      • Red Wolf, Canis rufus
      • Swift or Kit Fox, Vulpes velox
      • *Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes
      • Common Gray Fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus
    • Family Ursidae (bears)
      • American Black Bear, Ursus americanus
      • Grizzly or Brown Bear, Ursus arctos
    • Family Procyonidae (procyonids)
      • Ringtail, Bassariscus astutus
      • Northern Raccoon, Procyon lotor
      • White-nosed Coati, Nasua narica
    • Family Mustelidae (mustelids)
      • Long-tailed Weasel, Mustela frenata
      • Black-footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes
      • American Mink, Mustela vison
      • American Badger, Taxidea taxus
      • Northern River Otter, Lontra canadensis
    • Family Mephitidae (mephitids)
      • Western Spotted Skunk, Spilogale gracilis
      • Eastern Spotted Skunk, Spilogale putorius
      • Hooded Skunk, Mephitis macroura
      • Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis
      • Hog-nosed Skunk, Conepatus leuconotus
    • Family Felidae (cats)
      • Mountain Lion, Puma concolor
      • Ocelot, Leopardus pardalis
      • Margay, Leopardus wiedii
      • Jaguarundi, Herpailurus yaguarondi
      • Bobcat, Lynx rufus
      • Jaguar, Panthera onca
  • Suborder Pinnipedia (seals, walruses, and allies)
    • Family Phocidae (earless seals)
      • West Indian Monk Seal, Monachus tropicalis
  • Order Cetacea (whales, porpoises, and dolphins)
    • Key to the Whales and Dolphins of the Texas Coast
    • Family Balaenidae (right whales)
      • Northern Right Whale, Eubalaena glacialis
    • Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals or baleen whales)
      • Minke Whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata
      • Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis
      • Bryde's Whale, Balaenoptera edeni
      • Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus
      • Fin Whale, Balaenoptera physalus
      • Humpback Whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
    • Family Physeteridae (sperm whale)
      • Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus
    • Family Kogiidae (pygmy and dwarf sperm whales)
      • Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps
      • Dwarf Sperm Whale, Kogia sima
    • Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales)
      • Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Ziphius cavirostris
      • Blainville's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon densirostris
      • Gervais's Beaked Whale, Mesoplodon europaeus
    • Family Delphinidae (toothed whales and dolphins)
      • Killer Whale, Orcinus orca
      • Short-finned Pilot Whale, Globicephala macrorhynchus
      • False Killer Whale, Pseudorca crassidens
      • Pygmy Killer Whale, Feresa attenuata
      • Melon-headed Whale, Peponocephala electra
      • Rough-toothed Dolphin, Steno bredanensis
      • Risso's Dolphin, Grampus griseus
      • Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops truncatus
      • Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Stenella attenuata
      • Clymene Dolphin, Stenella clymene
      • Striped Dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba
      • Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, Stenella frontalis
      • Spinner Dolphin, Stenella longirostris
      • Fraser's Dolphin, Lagenodelphis hosei
  • Order Sirenia (manatees and allies)
    • Family Trichechidae (manatees)
      • West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus
  • Order Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates)
    • Key to the Even-toed Ungulates of Texas
    • Family Suidae (pigs)
      • *Feral Pig, Sus scrofa
    • Family Tayassuidae (peccaries)
      • Collared Peccary, Pecari tajacu
    • Family Cervidae (cervids)
      • *Axis Deer, Cervus axis
      • *Fallow Deer, Cervus dama
      • Elk, Cervus elaphus
      • *Sika Deer, Cervus nippon
      • Mule Deer, Odocoileus hemionus
      • White-tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus
    • Family Antilocapridae (pronghorn)
      • Pronghorn, Antilocapra americana
    • Family Bovidae (bovids)
      • *Nilgai, Boselaphus tragocamelus
      • American Bison, Bos bison
      • Bighorn Sheep, Ovis canadensis
      • *Barbary Sheep or Aoudad, Ammotragus lervia
      • *Blackbuck, Antilope cervicapra
  • Order Rodentia (rodents)
    • Key to the Rodents of Texas
    • Family Sciuridae (squirrels and allies)
      • Gray-footed Chipmunk, Tamias canipes
      • Texas Antelope Squirrel, Ammospermophilus interpres
      • Mexican Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus mexicanus
      • Spotted Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus spilosoma
      • Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus tridecemlineatus
      • Rock Squirrel, Spermophilus variegatus
      • Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Cynomys ludovicianus
      • Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
      • Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
      • Southern Flying Squirrel, Glaucomys volans
    • Family Geomyidae (pocket gophers)
      • Botta's Pocket Gopher, Thomomys bottae
      • Desert Pocket Gopher, Geomys arenarius
      • Attwater's Pocket Gopher, Geomys attwateri
      • Baird's Pocket Gopher, Geomys breviceps
      • Plains Pocket Gopher, Geomys bursarius
      • Jones's Pocket Gopher, Geomys knoxjonesi
      • Texas Pocket Gopher, Geomys personatus
      • Strecker's Pocket Gopher, Geomys streckeri
      • Llano Pocket Gopher, Geomys texensis
      • Yellow-faced Pocket Gopher, Cratogeomys castanops
    • Family Heteromyidae (pocket mice and kangaroo rats)
      • Plains Pocket Mouse, Perognathus flavescens
      • Silky Pocket Mouse, Perognathus flavus
      • Merriam's Pocket Mouse, Perognathus merriami
      • Chihuahuan Desert Pocket Mouse, Chaetodipus eremicus
      • Hispid Pocket Mouse, Chaetodipus hispidus
      • Rock Pocket Mouse, Chaetodipus intermedius
      • Nelson's Pocket Mouse, Chaetodipus nelsoni
      • Gulf Coast Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys compactus
      • Texas Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys elator
      • Merriam's Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys merriami
      • Ord's Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys ordii
      • Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys spectabilis
      • Mexican Spiny Pocket Mouse, Liomys irroratus
    • Family Castoridae (beavers)
      • American Beaver, Castor canadensis
    • Family Muridae (mice and rats)
      • Coues's Rice Rat, Oryzomys couesi
      • Marsh Rice Rat, Oryzomys palustris
      • Fulvous Harvest Mouse, Reithrodontomys fulvescens
      • Eastern Harvest Mouse, Reithrodontomys humulis
      • Western Harvest Mouse, Reithrodontomys megalotis
      • Plains Harvest Mouse, Reithrodontomys montanus
      • Texas Mouse, Peromyscus attwateri
      • Brush Mouse, Peromyscus boylii
      • Cactus Mouse, Peromyscus eremicus
      • Cotton Mouse, Peromyscus gossypinus
      • White-footed Mouse, Peromyscus leucopus
      • Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus
      • Northern Rock Mouse, Peromyscus nasutus
      • White-ankled Mouse, Peromyscus pectoralis
      • Pinyon Mouse, Peromyscus truei
      • Golden Mouse, Ochrotomys nuttalli
      • Northern Pygmy Mouse, Baiomys taylori
      • Mearns's Grasshopper Mouse, Onychomys arenicola
      • Northern Grasshopper Mouse, Onychomys leucogaster
      • Tawny-bellied Cotton Rat, Sigmodon fulviventer
      • Hispid Cotton Rat, Sigmodon hispidus
      • Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat, Sigmodon ochrognathus
      • Eastern Woodrat, Neotoma floridana
      • Eastern White-throated Woodrat, Neotoma leucodon
      • Mexican Woodrat, Neotoma mexicana
      • Southern Plains Woodrat, Neotoma micropus
      • *Norway Rat, Rattus norvegicus
      • *Roof Rat, Rattus rattus
      • *House Mouse, Mus musculus
      • Mexican Vole, Microtus mexicanus
      • Prairie Vole, Microtus ochrogaster
      • Woodland Vole, Microtus pinetorum
      • Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
    • Family Erethizontidae (New World porcupines)
      • North American Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum
    • Family Myocastoridae (myocastorids)
      • *Nutria, Myocastor coypus
  • Order Lagomorpha (hares and rabbits)
    • Key to the Hares and Rabbits of Texas
    • Family Leporidae (hares and rabbits)
      • Swamp Rabbit, Sylvilagus aquaticus
      • Desert Cottontail, Sylvilagus audubonii
      • Eastern Cottontail, Sylvilagus floridanus
      • Davis Mountains Cottontail, Sylvilagus robustus
      • Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
  • Appendix 1. The measurement system.
  • Appendix 2. Observing and collecting mammals.
  • Appendix 3. Selected references on mammals from Texas and adjoining states.
  • Appendix 4. Scientific names.
  • Appendix 5. Mammalian Species accounts available for Texas mammals.
  • Appendix 6. Standard measurements of study specimens.
  • Appendix 7. Basis for distribution of species.
  • Glossary
  • Index

This book is devoted to mammals, which are the class of vertebrate animals possessing hair, with the females having milk-secreting glands. One group of mammals, the cetaceans (whales and dolphins), have a layer of blubber instead of hair. Mammals, having among their representative genera certain species that fly, others that glide, swim, climb, burrow, leap, or run, are perhaps the most versatile and adaptable of the vertebrate animal groups in Texas.

Texas, with its variety of soils, climate, vegetation, and topography, as well as extensive coastline and offshore ocean, is the home of at least 184 free-ranging species of mammals. The locomotive versatility of the various members of the class is responsible in part for the occurrence of mammals in our deserts, forests, mountains, prairies, high plains, inland and coastal waters, and oceans.

This book represents the sixth account detailing the kinds of mammals that occur in Texas with information about their lives and economic importance. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and its predecessor, the Texas Game and Fish Commission, published the previous five editions. Dr. W. P. Taylor and Dr. W. B. Davis collaborated in 1947 to prepare The Mammals of Texas as Bulletin No. 27 of the former Texas Game and Fish Commission. Recognizing the growing interest in Texas mammals and the expanding knowledge about the many kinds of mammals in the state, Dr. Davis in 1960 wrote an entirely new bulletin, designated as Bulletin No. 41 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which served as an identification key to Texas mammals and also provided information on their distribution and life histories. Dr. Davis revised Bulletin No. 41 in 1966 and again in 1974. The bulletin was revised for a fifth time in 1994, with myself (DJS) as coauthor, and distributed by the University of Texas Press. Dr. Davis died in 1995, and by agreement with him this version is authored solely by DJS. The University of Texas Press has agreed to publish this latest revision in cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

This latest edition incorporates updated and needed revisions in the species distribution maps, taxonomic names, and other portions of the bulletin. Most of the changes were made to update the identification keys and geographic ranges of mammals in Texas and its adjacent waters. The natural history descriptions include some of the same information detailed by Dr. Davis and DJS in the 1994 edition, as well as pertinent new material.

Simplicity is the basic goal in organizing this book. Accounts for each species are arranged so that they contain in sequence: (1) a brief description of the mammal, with special emphasis given to distinguishing features, accompanied in most cases by a photograph; (2) a description of the geographic distribution of the species in Texas, with reference to a map; (3) a list of the subspecies recognized for each species (not provided for introduced, nonnative species); (4) a discussion of some of the basic life history of the mammal, including habitat preferences, reproduction, behavior, and food habits; and (5) a brief discussion of the conservation status of the species in Texas. The information for the life history discussions has been taken from observations recorded by other researchers and reported in the scientific literature, as well as the personal experience of DJS based on nearly 40 years of studying mammals in Texas. On the distribution maps, counties where specimens of mammals have been reported, either in the literature or represented by a scientific specimen located in a museum collection, are indicated by black dots; the probable range for most species is shaded in.

This is the first edition of this guide to include subspecies of mammals in the state. Subspecies are geographically defined aggregates of local populations that differ taxonomically (usually morphologically) from other such subdivisions of the species. Where the boundaries of subspecies abut, they interbreed with one another, creating zones of intergradation, whereas different species in areas of abutment or overlap are reproductively isolated and maintain their distinctness. The subspecies designations have been adapted from "Annotated Checklist of Recent Land Mammals of Texas," by Richard Manning and Clyde Jones (Occasional Papers 182, The Museum, Texas Tech University, 1998). Subspecies are not depicted on the distribution maps because detailed studies of geographic variation have not been performed on all Texas mammals, making it difficult to map subspecies boundaries accurately.

Another new feature of this guide is information about the conservation status of each species. This information is adapted from my book, Texas Natural History: A Century of Change, for land mammals, and from The Marine Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico, by Bernd Würsig, Thomas Jefferson, and DJS, for marine mammals. Other useful references about the conservation status of Texas’ mammal fauna have been included in Appendix 3. Species considered to be in trouble are those with legal status as endangered or threatened as determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The late J. Knox Jones, Jr., of Texas Tech University, wrote a paper in the Texas Journal of Science on the concept of threatened and endangered species as applied to Texas mammals. The Texas Organization for Endangered Species and the Texas Natural Heritage Program database, administered by the Nature Conservancy of Texas, maintain lists of rare or watch-list species that may be in trouble. Many rare species have highly localized distributions and others are only migrants in the state. Others were formerly widely distributed and in recent decades have suffered from a variety of circumstances that caused local extinctions in substantial parts of their range in the state. Finally, several native mammals in Texas are now extinct, primarily as a result of overharvesting in the latter part of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries.

Those readers interested in more detail about the natural history of Texas mammals are referred to the Mammalian Species series, published by the American Society of Mammalogists. The series provides detailed references and information for individual species of mammals. To date, Mammalian Species accounts are available for 137 of the 184 species of Texas mammals. Appendix 5 provides a list of the accounts available for Texas mammals. Mammalian Species may be found in many university libraries or can be ordered from the Web site at Many of the accounts can be downloaded free from that site. In addition, the Web site of the American Society of Mammalogists,, is an excellent resource for information about mammals and the science of mammalogy.

It is my sincere hope that students of wildlife and citizens interested in conservation and natural history will find much help in this version of The Mammals of Texas.


David J. Schmidly has been studying the mammals of Texas since 1972 and has written several books on Texas mammals and Texas natural history. Currently he serves as President and CEO of Oklahoma State University.

From reviews of the previous edition:

"This is the standard reference about Texas mammals."

Wildlife Activist

"A must for anyone seriously interested in the wildlife of Texas."

Texas Outdoor Writers Association News

"[This book] easily fills the role of both a field guide and a desk reference, and is written in a style that appeals to the professional biologist and amateur naturalist alike. . . . [It] should prove useful to anyone with an interest in the mammal fauna of Texas or the southern Great Plains."

Prairie Naturalist