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White Sands National Park Mammals

Forty-four species of mammals have been observed within the boundary of WSNM, ranging in size from the introduced Oryx, a 450 pound African antelope, to the tiny desert shrew, weighing in at just a few ounces.

Three species have been noted to exhibit light coloration: the Apache pocket mouse, the white sands wood rat, and the spotted ground squirrel.

CARNIVORES:

The carnivores at WSNM are found primarily along the ecotonal zone between the dunes and the adjacent desert scrubland, although they may venture out into the dunes in search of prey or denning sites. Most prey species within the dunes are located in the interdune flats, where limited vegetation offers some refuge, both from predators and the elements.

The more common predators, the badger, coyote, and gray fox are most abundant along the edge of the dunes, while the small kit fox may be found farther within the dunes, often digging dens within the pedestals in the dune field proper. Although these animals will drink standing water when available, they apparently get adequate moisture from the body fluids of their prey.

Rarely bobcats, mountain lions, two species of skunks, ringtail, and occasionally long-tailed weasels are observed on the monument.

RABBITS AND HARES:

The desert cottontail and the blacktailed jackrabbit may be found in the desert scrubland and edge of the dunes. Even though their tracks are common well out into the dune field, they are rarely sighted within the dunes proper.

BATS:

Five species of bats are known to occur here, the Pallid bat being the most common and readily visible in the evening around the Visitor's Center. The California Myotis and the Brazilian Freetail are occasional visitors to WSNM while the Big Freetail and the Silver-haired bats are rare visitors here.

RODENTS:

There are 20 species of rodents known to inhabit WSNM and most can be grouped together in the following categories:

Cactus and deer mice...........3 species

Cotton and wood rats............4 species*

Grasshopper mice................2 species

Kangaroo rats......................3 species

Pocket mice........................4 species*

  • The Apache Pocket Mouse and the White Sands Wood Rat both exhibit light coloration.

GOPHERS, SQUIRRELS, AND OTHER MAMMALS:

The desert pocket gopher is common both in the desert scrubland and interdune flats while the yellow-faced pocket gopher makes a rare appearance in the desert scrubland of the Monument.

The spotted ground squirrel is an occasional inhabitant along the dune edges and the Visitor's Center.

The porcupine has been a common mammal on the Monument, but in recent years has declined and is rarely observed today.

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