Mammals

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Mammals

These are the mammals, great and small,
that Native Americans and pioneers in the Old West would have known quite well.
Domestic Animals are noted DA
Fur bearers are noted FB.
Animals taken for hides and/or meat are noted HM.

Antelope – see: Pronghorn

OWDR Armadillo - Nine-bandedArmadillo HM (Dasypus novemcinctus)  [aka: an ironclad possum] This unusual critter is a placental mammal with a horny/leathery armor shell. Armadillos (11 species) originated in South America and several species including this one are still slowly expanding their territory; today as far as Nebraska and Indiana in the north and east to Florida in the southern tier states. Its unusually low body temperature of 34 °C (93 °F) make it an ideal host for Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy*), brought to the Americas by Europeans in the 15th century. Animals in Texas and Louisiana are a known reservoir and vector for the disease. Armadillos are also a known reservoir for Chagas disease (not usually a problem, North of Mexico). Both of these diseases can be acquired by humans handling or eating the flesh of the animal. Since this is the choice meat for chili, it’s a bit of a problem. This particular species has the habit of jumping straight up in the air about three feet or so when threatened, making them eminently hunt-able by pickup truck.  Photo: U.S. PD 2008 by birdphotos, Nine Banded Armadillo.   {001}
see also:
Opossum – below)
*The Originals Index – Resources and Hazards – DiseaseLeprosy

 

OWDR Badger WebBadger, American FB (Taxidea taxus): Certainly willing to take small animals about the homestead and occasionally guilty of destructive excavations. Trapped for fur (shaving brushes, paint brushes and other uses) and possibly (unlikely) for taxea* as a by-product. Solid, low to the ground… attitude! Photo: by permission, Fil Tkaczyk – Alderleaf Wilderness College  {001}
see:
References – Dictionarytaxea

 

OWDR Mexican Free Tail Tadarida brasiliensis WebOWDR Bats Carlsbad Caverns WebBats – (Microchiroptera various) Widely seen in the warmer parts of the west, some hibernate. Our most common bat is the Mexican Freetail (Tadarida brasiliensis) a migratory species; there are a number of important others. Bats eat a prodigious quantity of insects and some species are valuable pollinators. Where large numbers of bats roost, particularly in caves, their droppings (guano) are a rich source of salt petre [potassium nitrate, KNO3] a primary component of blackpowder, valuable as a food preservative and fetilizer. There were a number of productive mining operations in the West. Bats can be a vector for rabies*. Photos: U.S. PD, LH Evening flight from Carlsbad Caverns, NPS Nick Hristov; RH Mexican Free tail, NPS (see also: Little Brown Bat – below)   {001}
see:
*The Originals Index – Resources and Hazards – DiseaseRabies

 

OWDR Beaver Web Beaver FB (Castor canadensis): a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. This is the animal upon which the American fur trade prospered and foundered [1810-40’s] Strangely enough, it was largely about hats.* This animal is also a food source , its tail considered a delicacy by some. Still commonly trapped today for its fur and castoreum. The beaver is a disease vector for Tularemia  and Giardia lamblia,*** Old West Daily Reader Subscribe Today

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