Over 90 species of mammals call Grand Canyon National Park home, giving this park higher mammalian species diversity than Yellowstone! From the largest land animal in North America to some of the highest bat species diversities in the United States, Grand Canyon is home to a far larger mammalian population than most visitors may think. Most visitors to the park see mule deer, elk, and squirrels, but many of Grand Canyon's mammals are secretive and nocturnal and often move around unnoticed.
NPS Eric Hope
Grand Canyon National Park is home to one of the highest bat diversities anywhere in the United States, providing habitat to 22 species of bats. Many bats in the park eat insects, with the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) capable of eating 1,200 mosquito-sized insects an hour. Others feed on fish and yet others eat the nectar of fruit producing plants-helping to pollinate the plants. Although it’s unlikely you’ll encounter all of Grand Canyon’s bat species during your visit, look into the evening and night skies to view the only mammals capable of true flight.
ACE Gerald A. Buckman
One of the largest and most charismatic of Grand Canyon National Park's wildlife is the desert bighorn sheep. This species is the largest native animal in the park with males weighing up to 300 lbs (135 kg), though two nonnative species living in the park, bison and elk are larger. Though bighorn are generally associated with mountainous terrain, the unique landscape found in the Grand Canyon provide excellent habitat unlike any other on earth. The canyons have provided remote refuges for these animals and this is the only non-reintroduced population of desert bighorn.
NPS Eric Hope
NPS Eric Hope
NPS Jen Hiebert
The Grand Canyon is home to one of the world’s largest species of skunk, the American hog-nosed skunk (Conepatus leuconotus). The park is north of the species’ known range, but two skunks were reported by river trips on the Colorado River in 2014. It is unknown whether the species has been overlooked in the Grand Canyon in the past, or if it has expanded its range northwest. These sightings suggest a breeding population on both sides of the river. Park biologists are beginning a study of the distribution and presence of hog-nosed skunks in the canyon.
NPS Eric Hope
Where are the Mammals?Riparian:
Of the 34 mammal species found along the Colorado River corridor, 15 are rodents and eight are bats. River otters may have disappeared from the park in the last decade and muskrats are extremely rare. However, an increase in the population size and distribution of beavers has occurred seen since the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Beavers cut willows, cottonwoods, and shrubs for food, and can significantly affect the riparian vegetation. Other rodents, such as antelope squirrels and pocket mice, are mostly omnivorous, using many different vegetation types. Grand Canyon bats typically roost in desert uplands, but forage on the abundance of insects along the river and its tributaries.
In addition to bats, coyotes, ringtails, and spotted skunks are the most numerous riparian predators. They prey on invertebrates, rodents, and reptiles. Raccoon, weasel, bobcat, gray fox, and mountain lion are also present, but are much more rare. Mule deer and desert bighorn sheep are the ungulates that frequent the river corridor. Mule deer are generally not permanent residents along the river, but travel down from the rim when food and water resources there become scarce.
The mammalian fauna in the woodland scrub community consists of 50 species, mostly rodents and bats. Three of the five Park woodrat species live in the desert scrub community. Many generations of woodrats inhabit the same middens, which can serve as valuable indicators of past climatic conditions and associated vegetation. Numerous caves in the inner canyon provide roost sites for migratory and resident bats. Maternity colonies are especially prone to disturbance from human exploration, and greater efforts are needed to inventory park caves for bats and establish protective measures where necessary.
The conifer forests provide habitat for 52 mammal species. Porcupines, shrews, red squirrels, tassel eared Kaibab and Abert squirrels, black bear, mule deer, and elk are found at the park's higher elevations on the Kaibab Plateau.
It is illegal to approach or feed wildlife in Grand Canyon National Park