Squirrel on a branch
Abert's squirrel, also called the tassel-eared squirrel, is one of the most commonly seen mammals at Grand Canyon National Park.


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.

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Pallid Bat
Pallid Bat

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.

However, a fatal disease has started to infect these creatures across the country. White-Nose Syndrome has not reached Arizona but is likely in the next few years. 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.
Bighorn sheep in scrub
Bighorn Sheep thrive in the desert scrub of the Grand Canyon.


Bighorn Sheep
One of the largest and most charismatic of Grand Canyon National Park's wildlife is the desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni).

  • 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.
Bison herd grazing by paved road.
Bison herd on North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

NPS Photo/ P. Andrews

American bison (Bison bison) are the official U.S. National Mammal and are the largest land-dwelling mammal in North America. They are of cultural and spiritual significance to many Native American Tribes. Once wide spread and numerous bison were almost hunted to extinction at the end of the 19th century. In Grand Canyon National Park, the North Rim is home to the Kaibab Plateau Bison Herd.


NPS Eric Hope

North American Elk (Cevus canadensis), or Wapiti, are the largest member of the deer family (Cervidae) in Grand Canyon National Park.

  • The Rocky mountain elk (Cervus canadensis) 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.
Mule Deer
Mule Deer

NPS Eric Hope

Mule Deer
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) 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.
  • 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).
American Hog-nosed Skunk
Hog-nosed Skunk

NPS Jen Hiebert

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 lion kitten
Mountain lion kitten being handled by park biologists.


Mountain Lion
Mountain lions (Puma concolor) 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.



This small mammal, often called a ringtail cat (Bassariscus astutus), 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.

A javalina lifts its head to take a bite out of a prickly pear cactus.

NPS Photo


Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) are known by many names: collared peccary and musk hog are commonly used. Javelina young are sometimes called reds because of the color their fur at that stage. No matter what you call them, javelinas are not pigs. They are however, hoofed mammals that look quite like pigs. Ancestors of today’s javelinas made the journey, over the Bering land-bridge, eventually to Central and South America. Javelinas can sometimes be seen on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Mammals in Southwestern Parks

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    Last updated: March 14, 2024

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