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Bobcat

Coyote

Deer

Hog

Snake

Turkey

BOBCAT (Lynx rufus)

 

Description

The Bobcat is a medium-sized, reddish brown or grayish cat. Its ears usually have small tufts at the tips, and its fur is longer on the sides of its head than on the rest of its body, forming a ruff. They have a short tail, long legs, and large feet.

 

Life History

The reclusive Bobcat is active largely at night, although they frequently leave cover and begin hunting long before sundown. In hilly country, their presence can often be detected by their habit of dropping their feces on large rocks on promontories or ridges. Also, like the Mountain Lion, the males make scrapes-small piles of leaves, sticks, and so forth on which they urinate-along their travel routes, but these scrapes are smaller. They den in crevices in canyon walls, in boulder piles, or in thickets. The dens can be readily recognized by the strong odor emanating from them. Expert at climbing trees, Bobcats seek refuge in them when available.

 

Their diet consists mainly of small mammals and birds. Among the mammals, wood rats, ground squirrels, mice, and rabbits supply the bulk of the diet. Although deer occasionally are killed and eaten, most of the deer meat found in Bobcat stomachs has been carrion. They also prey upon domestic sheep, goats, and poultry but the damage done is rarely great.

 

The breeding season begins usually in February, and after a gestation period of about 60 days the two to seven young are born. Average litter size is three. The young are well-furred and spotted at birth; their eyes open in about 9 days. The kittens are weaned when about 2 months old. They remain with their mother until early fall, at which time they begin to fend for themselves.

 

Habitat

Bobcats live in a variety of habitats, but they favor rocky canyons or outcrops when they are available. Otherwise, they choose thickets for protection and den sites. These cats are highly adaptable, and in most places have been able to thrive in spite of increasing habitat loss due to human settlement.

 

Distribution

Bobcats are distributed throughout Texas.

 

Information courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Coyote (Canis latrans)

 

Description

The Coyote is very similar in size to a small German Shepherd and weighs an average of 25 to 40 pounds. It has long, slender legs, a bushy tail with a black tip, and large ears that are held erect. The Coyote's coat can vary, but it is usually gray or buff-colored. From a close vantage point, there is no mistaking the yellow eyes and black, round pupils. The Coyote is a strong swimmer. It characteristically runs with its tail down instead of horizontally like foxes, or up like wolves and dogs.

 

Life History

The Coyote is an extremely intelligent animal with keen senses of hearing, sight and smell. It primarily is nocturnal and very opportunistic. Coyotes will eat just about anything. They feed primarily on rabbits, rodents and insects, but they also eat carrion, lizards, snakes, fruit, vegetable matter and even fish. This adaptability also is evident in their use of cover. The Coyote requires minimal shelter to survive, but it will use a den for the birth and care of its young. Coyotes usually prefer to take use an abandoned badger den or natural cavities rather than dig their own den; however, they will make the necessary renovations by excavating multiple escape tunnels linked to the surface.

 

Coyotes are considered monogamous, with pairs remaining together for several years, although not necessarily for life. They breed from mid-January to early March. After a gestation period of 63 to 65 days, a litter of five to seven pups is born. During the weeks following the birth, the male will bring food to the family, but the female will not allow him inside the den. Coyotes normally may live from 10 to 12 years.

 

Habitat

The adaptability of the Coyote and its acute sense of survival make it difficult to identify preferred habitat, although they most typically are associated with open plains in the West and brushy areas in the East. Their opportunistic nature has provided them the full advantage of surviving in a rapidly changing environment.

 

Distribution

Coyotes have an extensive range across the United States. They have slowly filled the void left by the declining population of wolves throughout the country. In Texas, they range throughout the state.

 

Information courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

DEER (Cervidae)

 

Description

Species in the family include the white-tailed deer, mule deer (such as the black-tailed deer), elk, moose, red deer, reindeer (caribou), fallow deer, roe deer, pudú and chital. Male deer of all species (except the Chinese water deer) and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned animals, such as antelope, which are in the same order as deer and may bear a superficial resemblance to them.

 

Life History

Their diet: deer are browsers, and feed primarily on leaves. They have small, unspecialized stomachs and high nutrition requirements. Rather than eating and digesting vast quantities of low-grade fibrous food as, for example, sheep and cattle do, deer select easily digestible shoots, young leaves, fresh grasses, soft twigs, fruit, fungi, and lichens. The deer require a large amount of minerals such as calcium and phosphate in order to support antler growth, and this further necessitates a nutrient-rich diet.

 

Fawns are only cared for by the mother, known as a doe. A doe generally has one or two fawns at a time (triplets, while not unknown, are uncommon). Most fawns are born with their fur covered with white spots, though in many species they lose these spots by the end of their first winter. In the first twenty minutes of a fawn's life, the fawn begins to take its first steps. Its mother licks it clean until it is almost free of scent, so predators will not find it. The fawn stays hidden in the grass for one week until it is strong enough to walk with its mother. The fawn and its mother stay together for about one year. A male usually leaves and never sees his mother again, but females sometimes come back with their own fawns and form small herds.

 

Habitat

Deer live in a variety of biomes. While often associated with forests, many deer are ecotone species that live in transitional areas between forests and thickets (for cover) and prairie and savanna (open space). The majority of large deer species inhabit temperate mixed deciduous forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest, and savanna habitats around the world. Clearing open areas within forests to some extent may actually benefit deer populations by exposing the understory and allowing the types of grasses, weeds, and herbs to grow that deer like to eat. Additionally, access to adjacent croplands may also benefit deer. However, adequate forest or brush cover must still be provided for populations to grow and thrive.

 

Distribution

Deer are distributed throughout Texas.

 

Information courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

FERAL HOGS (Sus scrofa)

 

Description

Feral hogs may appear basically the same as domestic hogs and will vary in color and coat pattern. A mature feral hog may reach a shoulder height of 36 inches and weigh from 100 to over 400 pounds. The extreme larger hogs are generally not far removed from domestication. Males are generally larger than females. Feral hogs are more muscular than domestic hogs, and have very little fat.

 

The young are born a reddish color with black longitudinal stripes. As they mature, the coat color becomes predominantly dark brown or black.

 

Hogs have four continuously growing tusks (two on top, two on bottom) and their contact causes a continuous sharpening of the lower tusks. They have relatively poor eyesight but have keen senses of hearing and smell.

 

Life History

Feral hogs are found in a variety of habitats from moist pine forests in East Texas to the brush country of South Texas. They prefer bottom lands such as rivers, creeks, and drainages when available. Hogs are generally found in dense vegetation cover often associated with water, but also do well in drought prone environments. During hot weather, feral hogs enjoy wallowing in wet, muddy areas and are never far from dense protective cover. They will concentrate in areas of food availability, especially where there are nut producing trees or agricultural crops.

 

Although somewhat similar in appearance and habits, feral hogs and javelinas are not related. While feral hogs are indeed true pigs, javelinas belong to a totally separate family of mammals. Javelinas are smaller, have an unnoticeable tail, only one dew claw on the hind foot, a scent gland near the base of the tail, a grizzled-grayish coat with a white band of hair around the shoulder or "collar," and are more social or herd-like animals. Although feral hogs and javelinas inhabit the same range in South and Central Texas, they are not compatible.

 

Habitat

Feral hogs are distributed throughout much of Texas, generally inhabiting the white-tailed deer range, with the highest population densities occurring in East, South and Central Texas. North and West Texas have very low or no populations. However, reports indicate that populations are beginning to expand and increase in these areas. There is currently an estimated population in excess of 1.5 million feral hogs in Texas.

 

Distribution

Feral hogs are distributed throughout Texas.

 

Information courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

SNAKES (Serpentes)

 

Description

Snakes are a natural and integral component of the ecosystem. As predators, they are invaluable for their role in maintaining the balance of nature by helping to keep populations of their prey in check. Their prey consists of everything from earthworms to rabbits, and this includes other snakes. Snakes are especially important in the control of rodents. Bull snakes can be a farmer's best friend.

 

Snakes are distinctive in possessing an elongated, scaly body without limbs, external ear openings or eyelids, and like all other reptiles, they are cold-blooded or, more properly, ectothermic.

 

Life History

Snakes are comparatively long-lived. Even small snakes may live as long as 12 years. Large species may live to a ripe old age of 40 years or even longer.

 

Snakes are confirmed meat-eaters. Depending on the species, prey items consist of slugs, worms, insects of all kinds, crustaceans, fish, amphibians, other reptiles, birds and/or mammals. Eggs are also a favorite menu item for some species. Prey is generally swallowed whole. It is usually take alive. The prey is often seized in the mouth by a rapid strike, and the process of overpowering and swallowing begins. If the snake is nonvenomous, the prey is usually small in size relative to the snake. Poisonous snakes are able to subdue large active prey items by striking them, envenomating them with a complex proteinaceous substance which both begins the digestion process and kills the victim at the same time. Many venomous snakes will immediately release their prey, allowing time for the poison to do its work, and locate them later by means of the heat-sensing pits, sight or scent. Once relocated, they proceed to swallow the carcass.

 

Habitat

Snakes cannot tolerate extreme cold and will normally hibernate in the winter, emerging from their dens late February or early March in Texas. They also avoid extremely torrid conditions, confining their activity in hot climates to early morning, evenings, and night-time. Snakes successfully occupy many terrestrial, arboreal, underground, and aquatic environments.

 

Distribution

Many varieties of snakes (nonvenomous and poisonous) are distributed throughout Texas.

 

IMPORTANT: Snakes serve a valuable function in the environment. Please do not kill a snake - even a venomous one. Snakes do not prey on humans and they will not chase you, in fact they usually retreat or escape if given the opportunity. The danger comes when they are either surprised or cornered. The majority of bites result from people taking unnecessary or foolish risks with venomous snakes. Freeze when snakes are known to be nearby until you know where they are. Allow the snake to retreat. If you must move, back slowly and carefully away from the snake.

 

Information courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)

 

Description

Native to North America and is the heaviest member of ground-feeding birds. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which was originally derived from a southern Mexican subspecies of wild turkey (not the related ocellated turkey).

 

Life History

Turkeys have many vocalizations: "gobbles", "clucks", "putts", "purrs","yelps", "cutts", "whines", "cackles", and "kee-kees".In early spring, male turkeys, also called gobblers or toms, gobble to announce their presence to females and competing males.

 

Wild turkeys are omnivorous, foraging on the ground or climbing shrubs and small trees to feed. They prefer eating hard mast such as acorns, nuts, and various trees, including hazel, chestnut, hickory, and pinyon pine as well as various seeds, berries such as juniper and bearberry, roots and insects. Turkeys also occasionally consume amphibians and small reptiles such as lizards and snakes. Poults have been observed eating insects, berries, and seeds. Wild turkeys often feed in cow pastures, sometimes visit back yard bird feeders, and favor croplands after harvest to scavenge seed on the ground. Turkeys are also known to eat a wide variety of grasses. Early morning and late afternoon are the desired times for eating.

 

Habitat

Wild turkeys prefer hardwood and mixed conifer-hardwood forests with scattered openings such as pastures, fields, orchards and seasonal marshes. They seemingly can adapt to virtually any dense native plant community as long as coverage and openings are widely available. Open, mature forest with a variety of interspersion of tree species appear to be preferred.

 

Distribution

The range and numbers of the wild turkey had decreased at the beginning of the 20th century due to hunting and loss of habitat. Game managers estimate that the entire population of wild turkeys in the United States was as low as 30,000 in the early 20th century. In 1973, the total U.S. population was estimated to be 1.3 million, and current estimates place the entire wild turkey population at 7 million individuals.

 

Information courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

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