• Great Kiva with Walls of West Ruin

    Aztec Ruins

    National Monument New Mexico

Mammals

Mammals of Aztec Ruins National Monument

Habitats within the park include pinon-juniper woodland, riparian, and abandoned farmlands. Together they provide homes for a diversity of mammal species.

As part of the National Park Service's Natural Resources Initiative, wildlife biologists conducted mammal inventories in the park during 2001 and 2002. During the first field season, they captured and released eighty mammals of 12 species, and observed one other species. They anticipated the occurrence of five additional species, but did not document them during the first field season. The park staff and the biologists have since documented additional species.

Biologists found that the pinon-juniper woodland on the mesa top provided the highest species richness for terrestrial mammals.

The most common mammals captured were the western harvest mouse and the non-native house mouse. Acoustic surveys and capture through mistnetting identified at least seven species of bats. Species richness for bats was highest at the irrigation ditch and great kiva, where five species were documented. Two federally listed species of concern, the western small-footed myotis and the spotted bat, were documented through capture and acoustic survey, respectively. A nesting colony of the pallid bat is present in the roof beams of the reconstructed great kiva, where visitors are sometimes puzzled by the faint chirping sounds that the colony emits at certain times of the year.

 
Townsend's big-eared bat

Townsend's big-eared bat in Great Kiva at Aztec Ruins

NPS Photo by Janet Ruth

During the inventory season in 2001, biologists captured, observed, or documented previous sightings of the following 16 species of mammals:

Western small-footed myotis

Yuma myotis

Big brown bat

Spotted bat

Pallid bat

Townsend's big-eared bat

Brazilian free-tailed bat

Big free-tailed bat

Desert cottontail

Black-tailed jack rabbit

Silky pocket mouse

Western harvest mouse

Deer mouse

House mouse

White footed mouse

Western spotted skunk

Mule deer

Additional species identified by park staff or biologists include:

Rock squirrel

Gunnison's prairie dog

Botta's pocket gopher

Muskrat

Porcupine

Coyote

Red fox

Bobcat--Sighted by an ornithologist early one morning in 2002. She reported that the animal had a domestic duck clamped in his mouth.

American black bear--An unusual occurrence, this bear had been sighted several times in the nearby City of Aztec and made the front page in the local newspaper.

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