The badger is an adept shoveler, so much so that it can outdig a man digging with a shovel. With its stocky, flat build, badgers are powerful, relentless hunters, and are constantly pursuing the rodents that compose its diet. There is no grace to the badger's attack. It simply finds a rodent's burrow, and forcefully digs its way to the rodent itself. Hunting takes place at night. During the day, the badger rests comfortably in an elaborate burrow of its own.
Known as the smallest of the lynx family, the bobcat is a surreptitious predator with a patient hunting strategy. It waits along game trails, concealed, until an oblivious prey wanders past. When an unfortunate creature, such as a favored rabbit, walks past, the bobcat lunges from its hiding place, usually killing its prey instantly. Generally, the bobcat will hunt during day or night. Research suggests that the bobcat prefers to hunt either at dawn or dusk.
A wild relative of the domestic dog, the coyote is a widespread in Canyonlands. Typically, the animal hunts alone, but family groups sometimes hunt in packs. Favorite coyote prey include jackrabbits and other rodents. Occasionally, coyotes are known to eat birds as well. The species is incredibly resourceful. While civilization has encroached into many coyote home areas, coyotes nevertheless continue to flourish.
A magnificent bird, the golden eagle reaches a wingspan surpassing seven feet. It is named for its neck and crown feathers, which at adulthood, have a golden color. Males and females look virtually identical, save that females are always larger than males. Mating pairs stay together for life, courting and mating regularly, and may return to the same place each year to nest. The golden eagle's diet includes the bigger rodents, such as rabbits, marmots and ground squirrels.
Worker honeypot ants return to their nests swollen with nectar and honeydew, which they regurgitate to feed larvae and other ants. In fact, select ants store huge quantities of honey and hang from the walls of the nest upside-down, acting as living honey pots. The ants' ability to store liquid allowed the species to adapt to the warm, dry climate of Canyonlands, where water is not always available. The average honeypot ant colony is relatively small, composed of only several hundred ants.
Also known as the grasshopper mouse -- the insect is a dining favorite -- the killer mouse is capable of killing creatures three times its own size. It feeds at night, using keen hearing to locate prey at night. The killer mouse is also renowned for what some describe as a howl, a long whistle or squeak as long as the call of a wolf that can carry for over 200 yards. Aside from grasshopper, prey include deer mice, pocket mice, and scorpions, whose poison seems ineffectual against the killer.
The mallard is the most common duck in the American southwest. Males are notable for their iridescent green heads and white collars, while females are an undistinguished brown. Interestingly, the mallard cannot disappear beneath the surface of feeding waters. What it does alternatively is dip its head and neck beneath the water, rear in the air. The seeds of aquatic plants compose the core of the mallard's diet, but it also dines on small fish, crabs, shrimp, mollusks and insects.
Mountain Lion (Felis concolor)
Called the cougar as well, the mountain lion is one of America's most widespread predators. Like other cats, it hunts stealthy, stalking its prey and then, with a furious leap, bringing it down. While it can run nearly 50 miles per hour, the mountain lion rarely has cause to do so. It attacks in a rush, making for the neck of deer or other prey, striving to incur a fatal wound. Mountain lions are also remarkably strong, and on one occasion, a lion made off with a horse weighing nearly half a ton.
Large, perpetually moving ears not dissimilar from those of mules give the mule deer its name. For a deer, the mule is stocky, and runs in distinctive, bounding leaps at up to eight yards at a time, with all feet landing simultaneously. At top speed, the mule deer can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour. Preferential to morning and evening activity, the mule deer eats plants, including leaves, grasses, twigs, and sometimes, cacti. The species is notably abundant in Canyonlands.
White-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys leucurus)
Among Canyonlands more prevalent species, the white-tailed prairie dog does not form the highly complex burrow communities of its blasck-tailed counterpart. During the day, the prairie dog hangs around its burrow, venturing out to feed and returning to seek relief from the heat. At night, the prairie dog rests in its burrow, warm and safe from most predators. From October to March, the prairie dog hibernates, returning to the surface with the coming of spring.
Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
Notorious for its tail, which contains an organic rattle, the rattlesnake is widespread and an efficient predator. It feeds on a long list of rodents, including shrews, moles, pikas, rabbits, rats, mice, and prairie dogs, as well as an assortment of bird species. On occasion, rattlesnakes also may eat carrion. Sometimes, the rattlesnake swallows its prey whole. Other times, the rattler resorts to striking with its venomous fangs. When it strikes, the rattler aims for the head or chest. If it succeeds, such attacks prove fatal.
At two feet in length, the raven is the world's largest perching bird. They can tolerate the heat of Canyonlands because their bodies neither gain nor lose heat quickly. Moreover, the raven's diet is liquid rich, consisting of carrion and insects, which helps the bird survive drier periods. Native American culture has many stories about ravens speaking to people, probably resulting from the raven's ability to mimic the sounds of other birds, and human beings.
Scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis)
Its large pincher-like arms, combined with its poisonous tail, give the scorpion an unique, fearsome appearance. The scorpion's venom is extremely dangerous, and while almost never fatal, can cause severe pain, swelling, convulsions and other symptoms. During the summer, scorpions reside beneath rocks, logs and other natural objects. Amazingly, in the 400 million years since they first scurried over the Earth, scorpions hardly have changed at all.
With wingspans of more than five inches, sphinx moths are among the largest flying insects in Canyonlands. They emerge from their hiding places at dusk each day to feed on flower nectar. Because their wings are so massive, the moths can hover in place, giving their other popular name -- the hummingbird moth. Interestingly, flying in this manner necessitates a regular energy source, which is why the sphinx moth prefers sugar-rich nectar.
Also known as the darkling beetle, the jet-black stink bug is infamous for its reaction when frightened or threatened by predators. When assaulted, the stink bug stands on its head, raises its rear, and sprays a noxious liquid at the attacking predator. The beetle is particularly well suited for the dry, hot environment of Canyonlands, walking normally with its rear raised off the ground. On hotter days, the stink bug takes refuge wherever it can find shade.
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