The Web of Life Sabino Canyon  
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Orders of Mammals in Sabino Canyon

There are six orders of mammals (not including people) found in Sabino Canyon. These orders are determined by the animals' unique characteristics like the kinds of teeth they have or what foods they eat, their feet, and/or other abilities. "Reading" an animal's skull can help you determine its order.


Mammals that eat insects only such as moles and shrews.


Mammals that have one pair of chisel-like upper incisors (no canine teeth) like ground squirrels and kangaroo rat.


Mammals that primarily eat meat such as bobcats, mountain lions, kit foxes, bears, and coyotes.


Mammals that have two pairs of upper incisors, no canine teeth, and molars without roots like cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits.


Mammals that are capable of flight. Bats are the only chiroptera.


Mammals that have two or four toes like the white-tailed deer.

We usually talk about animals coming from one of three food-eating categories: herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore. We should add one more category: insectivore.

Insectivores are mammals or animals that eat mostly insects. Of course, the name means "insect eater." Mammals like moles and shrews which live underground mainly find insects in their habitats.

Herbivores are mammals or animals that eat mainly plants. The word "herb" refers to plants. Deer and rabbits, for instance, eat grasses, twigs, and other plant material.

Carnivores are mammals or animals that eat mainly meat. Carnivora means "flesh-eater". Zoologists include only these animal families: dog, cat, bear, raccoon, and weasel. (Skunks and badgers belong to the weasel family.) Most animals which are commonly called carnivores also eat plant material. A good example is the coyote. (Although coyotes and bears are in the "order Carnivora," they are truly omnivores.) Some carnivores, like the bobcat, eat only meat. In order to hunt their prey, carnivores have eyes facing front. They have large slicing canines and heavy skulls. Their jaws moves up and down only, not side to side.

Omnivores are mammals or animals that eat both plants and animals. The prefix "omni" means "all." A coyote is a good example of an omnivore because it prefers to eat meat like ground squirrels and rabbits but will also eat cactus fruits, berries, and almost anything from your garbage can when it's hungry.

***Lagomorpha are rabbits, hares, and pikas. (They were once a part of the Rodentia order along with mice and squirrels.) Rabbits are different from rodents in that they have two sets of upper incisors. They also have spongy intertwined bone in their upper jaws to diperse or get rid of heat during running. Their incisors and molars grow throughout life.


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