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 diversity in the United States, Grand Canyon is home to a far larger mammalian population than many people think. Most visitors to the park see mule deer, elk, and squirrels, but many of Grand Canyon's mammals are secretive or nocturnal and move around unnoticed.
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.
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.
American bison are the largest land-dwelling mammal in North America, weighing over 2000 lbs (900kg). Unlike bison you may see in Yellowstone, the bison found in Grand Canyon National Park are not native and are a hybrid between American bison and cattle, and were introduced to the area in the early 1900s. Currently, bison are only found on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Elk (Cevus elaphus) are the largest member of the deer family (Cervidae) in Grand Canyon National Park. The Rocky mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) in the park come from 303 individuals introduced to the state from 1913-1928 from Yellowstone National Park. While they can appear calm, elk are wild animals that can be dangerous. Please view these animals from at least 100 feet.
Hog-nosed Skunk 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.
Mountain lions are the largest predators found in the Grand Canyon. There are 18 native South American, 25 native North American, and 40 English names for this species, and the most common are puma, cougar, panther, and catamount. Humans in Grand Canyon have no reason to fear mountain lions because they do not see humans as prey. For mountain lions, being hit by cars is a common cause of death. Please use caution when driving, especially on East Rim Drive.
Mule deer are very common throughout western North America, and are one of the most commonly seen animals in Grand Canyon National Park. Their large ears resemble those of mules- hence the name, and they have a narrow tail which distinguishes them from white-tailed deer (Which are common in the United States, but not found in Grand Canyon National Park).
This small mammal, often called a ringtail cat, miner's cat, or bassarisk, is Arizona's state mammal. It is a common, albeit rarely-seen member of Grand Canyon's fauna. The musky smell they excrete deters would be predators such as foxes, coyotes, and bobcats.
Species Attribute Definitions
Occurrence values are defined below. One or more Occurrence Tags may be associated with each Occurrence value.
Present: Species occurs in park; current, reliable evidence available.
Probably Present: High confidence species occurs in park but current, verified evidence needed.
Unconfirmed: Species is attributed to park but evidence is weak or absent.
Not In Park: Species is not known to occur in park.
Adjacent: Species is known to occur in areas near to or contiguous with park boundaries.
False Report: Species was reported to occur within the park, but current evidence indicates the report was based on misidentification, a taxonomic concept no longer accepted, or other similar problem of error or interpretation.
Historical: Species' historical occurrence in park is documented. Assigned based on judgment as opposed to determination based on age of the most recent evidence.
Animals: May be seen daily, in suitable habitat and season, and counted in relatively large numbers.
Plants: Large number of individuals; wide ecological amplitude or occurring in habitats covering a large portion of the park.
Animals: May be seen daily, in suitable habitat and season, but not in large numbers.
Plants: Large numbers of individuals predictably occurring in commonly encountered habitats but not those covering a large portion of the park.
Animals: Likely to be seen monthly in appropriate habitat and season. May be locally common.
Plants: Few to moderate numbers of individuals; occurring either sporadically in commonly encountered habitats or in uncommon habitats.
Animals: Present, but usually seen only a few times each year.
Plants: Few individuals, usually restricted to small areas of rare habitat.
Animals: Occurs in the park at least once every few years, varying in numbers, but not necessarily every year.
Plants: Abundance variable from year to year (e.g., desert plants).
Unknown: Abundance unknown
Native: Species naturally occurs in park or region.
Non-native: Species occurs on park lands as a result of deliberate or accidental human activities.
Unknown: Nativeness status is unknown or ambiguous.
The Checklist contains only those species that are designated as "present" or "probably present" in the park.
The Full List includes all the checklist species in addition to species that are unconfirmed, historically detected, or incorrectly reported as being found in the park. The full list also contains species that are "in review" because their status in the park hasn't been fully determined. Additional details about the status of each species is included in the full list.
The checklist will almost always contain fewer species than the full list.