Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 78
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78 TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
ed numbers in the high valleys of the Chisos Mountains
in the Big Bend. The American elk (Cervus canadensis),
though not the original subspecies found in Texas, has
been introduced into the Guadalupe and Davis moun-
FERRET-The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes)
was formerly found widely ranging through the West
Texas country of the prairie dog on which it preyed. It is
now considered extinct in Texas. It is of the same genus
as the weasel and the mink.
FOX-Most common is the gray fox (Urocyon cin-
ereoargenteus) found in the forested area of East Texas
and throughout most of the state where there is cover,
notably in the broken parts of the Edwards Plateau and
the rough country at the foot of the Staked Plains. The
kit or Swift fox (Vulpes velox) is found in the plains
country of Northwest Texas. A second species of kit fox
(Vulpes macrotis) is found in the Trans-Pecos and is
fairly numerous in some localities. The red fox (Vulpes
vulpes) is not a native but was introduced for sport.
GOPHER-Six species of pocket gophers occur in
Texas. The Botta's pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) is
found in West Texas south of the High Plains, notably
along the Rio Grande. The plains pocket gopher (Geo-
mys bursarius) is found in the Panhandle and through-
out North Central and East Texas. The desert pocket
gopher (Geomys arenarius) and the yellow-faced pocket
gopher (Pappogeomys castanops) are found in the
Trans-Pecos. The Texas pocket gopher (Geomys perso-
natus) is found in the sandy soils of the lower coastal re-
GROUND SQUIRREL-There are five or more spe-
cies, living usually in the western part of the state. The
rock squirrel (Spermophilus variegatus) is found
throughout the Edwards Plateau and Trans-Pecos. The
Mexican ground squirrel (Spermophilus mexicanus) is
found in the Mexican border country from Brownsville
to the Davis Mountains. The spotted ground squirrel
(Spermophilus spilosoma) is found generally in favor-
able localities throughout the western half of the state.
The thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tride-
cemlineatus) is found in the Panhandle and in a narrow
strip from Red River to the Gulf between Dallas and
Corpus Christi. The Texas antelope squirrel (Ammosper-
mophilus interpres) is found along the Rio Grande from
El Paso to Val Verde County.
JAVELINA-The javelina or collared peccary
(Tayassu taiacu) is found in the border country of South-
west Texas. It is fairly numerous. Its meat is edible if
properly prepared, and there is limited use of its hide for
the manufacture of gloves and other leather articles.
Hunting it with dogs is a favorite sport of that region. A
scrappy animal, it is the subject of many tall tales.
MINK-The mink (Mustela vison) is found in East
Texas and along the Coastal Belt, usually in forested riv-
er bottoms. It yields a considerable fur crop. It is akin to
the otter and weasel. Mink farming, partly with native
and partly with introduced species, is found on a limited
scale, usually in East Texas.
MOLE-The mole (Scalopus aquaticus) is found gen-
erally throughout the eastern half of the state.
MUSKRAT-There are three subspecies of muskrat
in Texas, the muskrat (Ondatra zibethica rivalicia),
which is found in Southeast Texas near Beaumont where
it is commercially produced on muskrat ranges; the Pe-
cos River muskrat (Ondatra zibethica ripensis) of West-
ern Texas; and the Great Plains muskrat (Ondatra
zibethica cinnamonia) of the Panhandle region. The
muskrat is one of the most valuable of Texas' fur-bear-
ing animals. Production of pelts comes largely from the
coastal area near Beaumont.
NUTRIA-This introduced species (Myocastor coy-
pus) is found in Texas, except the Panhandle and ex-
treme western portions. The fur is not valued too highly
and, since they are in competition with muskrats, their
spread is discouraged. They are used widely in Texas as
a cure-all for ponds choked with vegetation.
OPOSSUM-This Texas marsupial, the Virginia opos-
sum (Didelphis virginiana) is found in nearly all parts of
the state. The opossum has economic value for its pelt,
and its meat is considered a delicacy by some. It is one of
the chief contributors to the Texas fur crop.
OTTER-A few river otter (Lutra canadensis) are
found along East Texas rivers and coastal marshes.
Although it is a prized fur-bearing animal, there is no
evidence that the river otter can be considered either
rare or endangered. The species is numerous in Liberty
County where biologists have determined that its num-
bers have increased in recent years. While excess pop-
ulations of this species, like other forms of wildlife, can
be harvested with no danger to the species, loss of hab-
itat through encroaching civilization presents the most
formidable threat to its continued existence.
PORCUPINE-The yellow-haired porcupine (Ere-
thizon dorsatum) is found in small numbers in higher
mountain ranges of the Trans-Pecos and has recently
moved into the eastern portion of the Panhandle along
PRAIRIE DOG-Until recent years probably no sight
was so universal in West Texas as the black-tailed prairie
dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) and its burrow. Naturalists
estimated its population in the hundreds of millions. Its
destruction of range grasses, plus its peculiar suscepti-
bility to eradication (usually by the introduction of the
fumes of carbon disulphide into its burrow) have caused
a great reduction of its numbers over its past range.
However, it is making a comeback. Prairie dog towns
often covered many acres with thickly spaced burrows
or prairie dog holes. It is being propagated in several
public zoos, notably in the prairie dog town in Mackenzie
Park at Lubbock. It has been accorded its monument in
Texas in the name of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the
Red River, along one segment of which is located the
beautiful Palo Duro Canyon.
PRONGHORN-The Pronghorn (Antilocapra ameri-
cana) is primarily a plains animal. It almost became
extinct, but a continuous closed season and a sound man-
agement program raised its numbers. There have been
limited open seasons since 1944. Specifically, these ani-
mals inhabit the plains and basin regions of Brewster,
Presidio, Jeff Davis, Culberson and Hudspeth counties.
They have also sufficiently increased in numbers in the
Permian Basin and Panhandle to permit open seasons in
RABBIT-The black-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus califor-
nicus) is found throughout Texas except in the East Tex-
as forest area. It breeds rapidly, and its long hind legs
make it one of the world's faster-running animals. The
Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) is found
throughout Texas except in Trans-Pecos region. The de-
sert cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni) is found in South
and West Texas, usually on the open range. The swamp
rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus) is found in East Texas and
the coastal area.
RACCOON-The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is found
along streams throughout Texas.
RATS AND MICE-There are 40 or 50 species of rats
and mice in Texas of varying characteristics, habitats
and economic destructiveness. The Norway rat (Rattus
norvegicus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus) are proba-
bly the most common and the most destructive. Some of
the species are native, and others, notably the Norway
rat, are invaders. The common house mouse (Mus mus-
culls) is estimated in the hundreds of millions annually.
The rare Guadalupe Mountain vole (Microtus mexicanus
guadalupensis) is found only in the Guadalupe Mountains
National Park and just over the border into New Mexico.
RINGTAIL-The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is
found generally in wooded areas west of the Trinity and
in the broken sections of the Edwards Plateau. It is a
valuable fur-bearing mammal.
SHEEP-The barbary, or Aoudad, sheep (Ammotra-
gus lervia), first introduced to the Palo Duro Canyon
area in 1957-58, have become firmly established. Barbary
sheep have been introduced into many areas of Texas,
but are designated as game animals in only eight
counties of the Panhandle surrounding Palo Duro Can-
yon. Efforts are now under way by the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department to establish the desert bighorn
(Ovis canadensis) in range formerly occupied.
SHREW-Three species are found in Texas, the
northern short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda), the
least shrew (Cryptotis parva) and the desert shrew (No-
tiosorex crawfordi). The first-mentioned is rarer, occur-
ring in the Big Thicket. The least shrew is found
generally in South Central and East Texas. The gray
shrew is found in very limited numbers in the semiarid
areas of West Texas and along the border.
SKUNK-There are six species of skunk in Texas.
The Eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius) is found
throughout North Texas. A small skunk, it is often erro-
neously called civet cat. This skunk also is found in East
Texas and the Gulf area. The Western spotted skunk (Spi-
logale gracilis) is found in the central, western and
southern parts of the state. The long-tailed, or broad-
striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is found in many parts
of the state, usually along streams or in wooded areas.
The hooded skunk (Mephitis macroura) is found
TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/82/: accessed June 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.