Which Mammals Are Endangered in North America?


The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has a list of all endangered mammals in North America.

The IUCN states “A taxon is Endangered (EN) when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered, and it is therefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.”

There are currently twenty species of mammal in North America listed by the IUCN as endangered.

Black-footed Ferret

The black-footed ferret is also referred to as the American polecat or prairie dog hunter.  They are a species of mustelid native to North America, and are listed as endangered animals. 

They were previously considered extinct, but a captive-breeding program successfully reintroduced this species to their native habitat. 

Their body length is between 500 to 533 mm with a tail of 114 to 127 mm, and they weigh between 650 to 1400 grams. 

They have a slender and long body with black feet, ears, tails, and part of their faces. Their neck is long and they have stout, short legs.

Their pelage is yellowish-blond. The black-footed ferret is nocturnal and solitary.  They feed mainly on prairie dogs which they hunt in their burrows.

Blue Whale

The blue whale is the largest living animal to live on Earth, not just now but throughout history. 

This species of whale reaches sizes between 69-95 ft (21-29m), although they are slightly smaller in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Females are larger than males and can reach incredible weights of 90-150 tons. 

The diet of a blue whale consists mainly of krill, with some crab and squid. They are easy to spot because of their vast size, and can be distinguished by their flattened, broad, u-shaped head. 

Even though they are so large, they have a tiny dorsal fin which is set far back.

Blue whale

Eastern Small-footed Myotis

The Eastern small-footed bat is a nocturnal mammal found in the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. 

Their face, ears, and wings are black, and the rest of the body is grayish brown. They measure from 6.5 to 9.5 cm, with a wingspan ranging from 21 to 25 cm, and weighs from 4 to 8 g. 

The Eastern small-footed bat is an insectivore eating beetles, moths, mosquitoes, and flies. 

They live in forests with caves and rock formations adequate for roosting. 

Their lifespan is 6 to 12 years in the wild, hibernating in winter.

European Rabbit

The European rabbit is a small rabbit measuring 40 cm in length with a weight of 2.6-4.4 lb.  Their ears are large measuring between 6.5-7.5 cm in length.  

The European rabbit comes in various colors, but are generally grayish-brown with hairs of black, gray or red on the body.  

Photo of rabbits

They are born with a white star shape on their foreheads but this fades by adulthood.  They live in warrens with up to ten other rabbits.  

Giant Kangaroo Rat

The giant kangaroo rat is typical of California and can now be found only on certain, isolated areas around the Joaquin Valley. 

They have been listed as an endangered species. Their primary food source is seeds and grass. 

Kangaroo rats communicate with each other using foot thumping signals that can serve as both a warning and for communication of territorial and mating status. 

In terms of dimensions, they usually measure around 15 centimeters with a weight of 110 grams on average.

Greater Long-nosed Bat

The greater long-nosed bat is also known as the Mexican long-nosed bat.

Their population is decreasing due to agriculture and aquaculture and human intrusion and disturbance.

They are large compared to most other species of bat, measuring up to 10cm in length.  They can be dark gray or brown.  Their name comes from their long muzzle with nose leaf.  They have a long tongue 8 cm long which they use to feed on nectar from flowers.

They can mainly be found in Texas and Mexico, where they move from central Mexico in the summer.  In winter they move back to the warmer climates.

Greater long-nosed bats can be seen in large colonies exiting caves in Texas.

Hawaiian Monk Seal

The Hawaiian monk seal is a species of earless seal native to Hawaii. They are listed as an endangered species and threatened by human encroachment, entanglement in fishing nests and past commercial hunting for their skins. 

They are characterized by a gray coat, a slender physique, and a white belly. Hawaiian monk seals measure on average 2.1 meters in body length and their body mass spans between 140 to 180 kilograms. 

They shed hair and the outer layer of their skin during an annual molt. They commonly feed on fish, lobster, octopus, and squid in deep water coral beds. 

These seals can be found especially in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands but also on Hawaii. 

They spend two-thirds of their time in the water. They prefer to lounge on volcanic rocks and corals. There are many protection programs set to save this endangered species.

Hog Deer

Hog deer can be found throughout India and southeast Asia but were introduced to the United States.  They can be found in Texas, Florida and Hawaii.

Hog deer live in forests, clearing and grasslands.  They are named due to their running style.  Instead of jumping over objects, hog deer will lower their head and run under objects where possible, much like a hog would.

They are stocky and muscular with longer hindlimbs than forelimbs.  The face of the hog deer is wedge shapes and short.  They have large ears for their head size.

They are olive-brown with white tips to their hair.  They weigh up to 50kg and a length of 135cm.

Little Brown Bat

The little brown bat is a small North American bat. Their colors vary from light tan to dark brown, with a lighter color on its underbody. 

The little brown bat measures from 8 to 9.5 cm and weighs from 5.5 to 12.5g. 

This insectivore eats mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. The little brown bats live in most of North America. 

Little brown bat

They will find any place to roost during the day, such as trees, caves, and rocks. In winter, this bat hibernates in caves. Their lifespan is from 6 to 7 years.

Manzano Mountain Cottontail

The Manzano Mountain cottontail can be found in New Mexico in the Manzano Mountains.  They can be found at high elevations of 3,100 meters in forests.

It is not known how many of this species still exist but they can be found in two groups in the Manzano Mountains.  

Nelson’s Antelope Squirrel

Nelson’s antelope squirrel is also known as the San Joaquin antelope squirrel.  They are endemic to the San Joaquin Valley in California. 

Today, its habitat has been reduced, resulting in the endangerment of this species which has experienced a drastic reduction in population numbers. Poisons have also contributed to making this species listed as endangered.

The fur of this squirrel is yellowish, with a white belly and stripes on the side of its body. The average total body length of this species is around 22 to 23 cm, and the average weight is approximately 25 grams.

North Atlantic Right Whale

The North Atlantic right whale is a large whale with a length of 49-52 ft (15-16m) and weighing between 34-78 tons. Females grow larger than males. 

North Atlantic right whales live mainly on krill and copepods. They are a slow swimmer but can be acrobatic. Their behavior includes lobtails, flipper-slaps and frequently breaches. 

The North Atlantic right whale is very inquisitive and approaches boats. 

Their name comes from whalers who thought they were the right whale to catch due to their inquisitiveness. 

North Atlantic Right Whale

They have a single calf after a gestation period of 12-13 months. They have no dorsal fin, a dark body, and a very large head covered in patches of rough skin.

North Pacific Right Whale

The North Pacific right whale measures between 49-65 ft (15-17m) with a weight of 34-90 tons. 

Females grow larger than males, and both genders are almost identical in appearance to the North Atlantic right whale, although they can grow a little larger. 

They are one of the most critically endangered species of whale, with an estimated population of 400-500 in the world today. 

Northern Idaho Ground Squirrel

The Northern Idaho ground squirrel can be found in Valley and Adams Counties in Idaho at elevations up to 2290 meters.  

They are classed as critically endangered by the IUCN due to poisoning, hunting and trapping.  

They grow up to 26cm in length with a weight of almost 300 grams.

The Northern Idaho ground squirrel hbernates up to eight months of the year.

Palmer’s Chipmunk

Palmer’s chipmunks can be found among temperate forests of pinyon and juniper.  They can be spotted in the Spring Mountains of Clark County of Nevada. They are found at elevation of 3,000 meters above sea level

They are classed as endangered on the IUCN red list due to residential and commercial developments and human intrusion which has led to habitat loss.  Their population is descreasing.

Their body length ranges up to 22cm with a tail of 10cm. They have solid black and white dorsal stripes with a tan side.  

They can be seen in the winter running on top of snow but have burrows where they retreat to.

Pribilof Island Shrew

The Pribilof Island Shrew is an endangered species of shrew.  They face extinction from livestock farming and ranching.  

They can be found on Saint Paul Island in the Pribilof Islands where they can be found along coastal regions.   

Salt-marsh Harvest Mouse

The salt-marsh harvest mouse is also known as the red-bellied harvest mouse due to its coloring.

They live in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be found in areas with vegetation.  

Pollution of the area along with development of the area has caused the salt-marsh harvest mouse to become endangered.  There are two subspecies but both have been classed as endangered.  

They are approximately 7cm in length with a tail up to 10cm.  They weigh up to 20g.

Sea Otter

The sea otter is a marine mammal that can be found on the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. They usually weigh between 14 and 45 kilograms and are about 1.2 to 1.5 meters in total body length. 

They are considered to be the largest members of the weasel family but are one of the smallest marine mammals. 

Their primary form of insulation is a thick coat of fur, and are capable of living exclusively in the ocean. 

They feed mostly on marine invertebrates such as urchins, mollusks and crustaceans and some species of fish. 

In the past, sea otters were hunted extensively for their fur, which led to a major decrease in their population. However, conservation efforts and reintroduction programs have managed to successfully re-establish sea otters’ presence in their natural habitat. They are still listed as endangered species. 

Their pelage is usually brown. They are diurnal animals that tend to rest together in single-sex groups called rafts. A raft might contain from 10 to 100 individuals. Male rafts are usually bigger than female ones. 

They can be found in areas with protection from the most severe ocean winds such as rocky coastlines and barrier reefs.

Sei Whale

The sei whale is a large marine mammal, measuring from 39-52 ft (12-18m) and weighing between 17-45 tons. The females are larger than males. 

There are no commercial whale-watching operations anywhere dedicated to watching this species of whale. They do not gather in the same areas from one season to the next as most whales do, making them elusive. 

They have a more varied diet than most other baleen whales.  Their diet includes krill, copepods, crustaceans and schooling fish. They are mostly dark gray or brown, with a prominent dorsal fin.

Utah Prairie Dog

The Utah prairie dog is between 30 to 36 cm in body length and weigh up to 1,400 grams. 

The Utah prairie dog is a member of the squirrel family native to the central steppes of Utah. 

They have a multicolored fur consisting of black, light brown and dark brown shades. Males are generally bigger than females. 

The Utah prairie dogs construct burrows to protect themselves from predators and external temperatures. They are herbivores but occasionally they can feed on insects.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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