Lagomorphs & Ungulates
Tonto National Monument is home to three species of lagomorphs and three species of ungulates. Lagomorphs are mammals with two pairs of incisors in their upper jaw; ungulates are mammals with hooves. Learn about each of these species below.
Black-tailed JackrabbitLepus californicus
Body Length: 17 - 21"
Diet: Green vegetation, including tree leaves.
Jackrabbits are large hares with long legs. True to their name, black-tails have black-tipped tails, as well as black tips on their long ears. Jackrabbits live in open areas with little cover and rely on excellent hearing, exceptional speed (up to 35 mph), and their great leaping ability to avoid predators. They may travel up to several miles at night to find suitable food before returning to their home range during the day.
Desert CottontailSylvilagus audubonii
Eastern CottontailSylvilagus floridanus
Body Length: 12 - 17"
Diet: Green vegetation
The desert cottontail and the eastern cottontail occur at Tonto National Monument. This side-by-side occurrence of the two species is quite rare in Arizona, as they generally prefer different habitats. Desert and eastern cottontails are very difficult to tell apart. In general, eastern cottontails are slightly larger, and have larger ears a more reddish nape and tail than desert cottontails. In addition, eastern cottontails are rarely found far from shade.
Cottontails and jackrabbits were an important food source for prehistoric people, and their bones are abundant in archeological deposits of the cliff dwellings at Tonto National Monument and throughout the Tonto Basin.
Collard Peccary (Javelina)Pecari tajacu
Body Length: 34 - 36"
Diet: Prickly pear, mesquite beans, grubs, etc.
Though its official name is collared peccary, in Arizona this species is better known as javelina, a Spanish word pronounced "hav-a-LEEN-ah". Javelinas are not wild pigs or boars, which are domestic pigs gone wild. Peccaries differ from pigs in many ways, including the absence of large tusks and their smaller size. Javelina are highly social animals, traveling in family groups or herds of three to eighteen individuals. Each herd has a particular scent, based on musk secretions, that forms the basis for mutual recognition. They are not often seen here during the day, preferring shady areas such as dense vegetation and shallow caves.
Mule DeerOdocoileus hemionus
Body Length: 3 3/4 - 6 1/2"
Diet: Flowering plants, grasses, and woody vegetation
Mule deer have large, "mule" ears, and males have forked antlers. They are brownish-gray in color, have a white rump patch, and a small white tail with a black tip. They survive the warm summer months be being active at night or during the early morning hours. They are common throughout the entire western United States.
White-tailed DeerOdocoileus virginianus
Body Length: 4 1/2 - 6 3/4"
Diet: Green plants, acorns, and woody material
White-tailed deer are the most frequently seen large animal at Tonto National Monument. Smaller and more graceful than mule deer, white-tailed deer are easily distinguished by the bushy white tail, which curls upward when the deer "hightails it", or runs away.
White-tailed deer graze in grasslands areas during the winter, and come down to the ancient creek to drink during dry months. They are excellent runners. Nevertheless, these deer are preyed upon by many predators.
Last updated: November 23, 2018