Which Mammals Are Near Threatened In North America?


The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species is a comprehensive source of information for the global conservation of animals.

The IUCN states “A taxon is Near Threatened (NT) when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.”

There are 18 species of mammals in North America that are classed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

  • Steller sea lion
  • Mexican long-tongued bat
  • False killer whale
  • Florida mouse
  • Jaguar
  • Island fox
  • Indiana bat
  • American bison
  • Allegheny woodrat
  • Appalachian Cottontail
  • Desert pocket gopher
  • Lesser long-nosed bat
  • Banner-tailed kangaroo rat
  • Washington ground squirrel
  • Sonoma red vole
  • Mohave ground squirrel
  • Northern long-eared myotis

If you want to know more about these animals and why they are on the Near Threatened list then please read on.

Steller Sea Lion

The Steller sea lion is also known as the northern sea lion.  They are a species of sea lion typically found in the northern Pacific. 

They are considered to be the largest species of eared seals and take their names from the naturalist George Wilhelm Steller, who first described them in the mid-18th century. 

These animals measure about 2.3 to 2.9 meters in length on average and weigh between 240 to 350 kilograms. 

Males are slightly longer than females and can be distinguished by broader foreheads and thicker hair around their neck. 

The range of these seals extends from Russia to the Gulf of Alaska and the Ano Nuevo Island off the coast of Central California. 

Steller sea lions usually live in the coastal waters of the subarctic and spend most of their time in the water. They are skilled and opportunistic marine predators. 

They primarily feed on a wide variety of fish and are hunted by killer whales and great white sharks.

The population trend of the steller sea lion is increasing with over 81000 individuals.

Threats to the steller sea lion come from fishing and harvesting aquatic resources which they feed on, climate change and severe weather which causes their habitats to shift and alter.

Mexican Long-tongued Bat

The Mexican long-tongued bat is a species of bat found in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and parts of the United States. 

They are medium-sized bats with a bodyweight of approximately 10 to 20 grams and a body length of 13 centimeters on average. 

Their pelage is characterized by long hairs which are usually gray or brown. 

Their name come from a long, extendible tongue which is specialized for nectar-feeding. The tongue can extend up to a third of their body length. 

The Mexican long-tongued bat feeds on nectar, pollen, and fruit from several plants. They are usually solitary and travel for long distances during migration.

The Mexican long-tongues bat is classed as near threatened although the population numbers are unknown.

This is due to territory encroachment from residential and commercial developments as well as changes in livestock farming and ranching.

Changes to their habitats have occurred due to mining and quarrying.

Florida Mouse

The Florida mouse can be found in the longleaf pine sandhills, slash pine-turkey oak sandhills, and sand pine scrub of central Florida.  They prefer to live in hot, dry areas of the state rather than the coastal marshes.

Florida mice resemble the cotton mouse and oldfield mouse but the Florida mouse lives in the burrows of the gopher tortoise.  The burrows of the gopher tortoise construct deep, long burrows.  

There are over 360 species of vertebrates and invertebrates that use these tunnels and the Florida mouse is one of these.  The Florida mouse use a couple of the tunnels and construct their own off the sides.

Although they spend their days in the tortoise tunnels they do come out at night to feed.  They eat insects, plants and seeds.  They are particularly fond of acorns.

The population of Florida mice is decreasing due to development of housing and urban areas, commercial and industrial areas.

Agriculture also plays its part in their decline with annual and perennial non-timber crops being destroyed. Fires in their habitats have also caused reductions to the Florida mice population.

False Killer Whale

The false killer whale is medium size mammal measuring 14-20 ft (4.3-6.1m) weighing 1.2-2.5 tons. 

They are black or dark gray, with a long body and a conical head. Their dorsal fin is towards the middle of their back, and they have flippers with an elbow shape. 

They are generally seen in groups of 10-60 animals and can be seen interacting with other cetaceans such as bottlenose dolphins. 

Due to their social structure, mass stranding can be common, with the largest involving over 1,000 animals.

False killer whales are classed as near threatened to fishing and harvesting of aquatic resources along with pollution. The pollution is caused by industrial and military effluents along with garbage and solid waste.

Find out which mammals have gone extinct in North America in the last 100 years in the article I wrote.

Indiana Bat

The Indiana myotis is a midsize, social species of bat found in the eastern part of the United States. 

Their colors vary from dark brown to black. The Indiana bat measures from 4.1 to 4.9 cm and weighs about 7g. 

The Indiana bat is an insectivore and eats flies, moths, bees, wasps, midges, ants, mosquitoes, and beetles. They live in wooded areas, where they can be found roosting in trees. 

During the winter the Indiana bat hangs from ceilings clustered in groups to hibernate. 

Their lifespan is about 14 years and are considered an endangered species.

Although near threatened the population of the Indiana bat is stable at the moment.

Construction of housing and urban areas has caused problems to the population along with human intrusions and disturbances.

Red Tree Vole

The red tree vole spends most of their lifetime just on one tree, with the next generations living in parts of the same tree. 

The red tree vole feeds exclusively on the needles of conifers. To eat the conifers’ seeds, they need to remove the resin ducts of the needle which they use for nest lining. Their position might be detected by the amount of discarded shells.

They live in the states of Oregon and California. 

These animals are nocturnal and difficult to spot. Their average length is about 206 mm, and they can weigh up to 50 grams. 

The population of the red tree vole is decreasing due to logging and wood harvesting.

Want to find out about some of the best wildlife protection organizations in North America. Find out here.

Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat

The banner-tailed kangaroo rat usually measures up to 34 cm in length and weighs around 130 grams. 

These kangaroo rats are found in Mexico and the southwestern area of the United States. 

The most distinguishable trait of these rats is their tail which is black-banded with a white tip resembling a banner. 

The legs on the back are longer than those in the front, allowing it to be particularly fast.

The population of the banner-tailed kangaroo rat is decreasing.

Jaguar

The jaguar is a large-sized feline which can be found in the southwestern regions of the United States, Mexico and across Central and South America. 

Jaguars are the largest native cats species in America and the third-largest in the world. They resemble leopards with their spotted coats, but jaguars are larger and sturdier. 

Jaguars weigh between 56 to 96 kilograms and reach about 1.12 to 1.85 meters in body length. 

They live in tropical and subtropical forests as well as swamps and wooded regions. 

Jaguars are solitary and use stalk-and-ambush techniques making them a predator located near the top of the food chain. 

They play an important ecological role in controlling the population levels of their prey. Jaguars are carnivores and feed on various types and species of animals.

The population of jaguars in the wild is decreasing due to residential and commercial development including housing, commercial and industrial construction.

Changes to livestock farming and ranching along with annual and perennial non-timber crops being destroyed have also played a part in the reduction of their numbers.

New roads and railroads along with utility and service lines have also caused problems to the jaguar.

Want to know why the IUCN Red List is important? Find out in an article I wrote.

Island Fox

The Island gray fox can be found on the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast.  They can be found on the six largest Channel Islands.

The Island gray fox can be found on Santa Cataline, San Clemente, San Miguel, San Nicholas, Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.

The Island gray fox is smaller than the regular gray fox and is the smallest species of fox in North America.  They average between 59 to 79 cm long, which includes a tail length up to 29 cm.  Their height is just 15 cm.

Island gray foxes live solitary, mostly nocturnal lives.  They can also be seen during the day.  They are good tree climbers.  

Island gray foxes will leave urine and feces at boundaries around their territories to mark their territories from other gray foxes.  

They feed mainly on fruits and insects, living on an omnivorous diet.  They will also feed on birds and deer mice, reptiles, snails and human garbage.   They will eat prickly pear cactus, sea-figs, manzanita and berries.

The IUCN lists all subspecies of island gray Fox as near threatened.  By 2000, there was a population of just 14 Island gray foxes on Santa Rosa, down from 1,500 in 1994.  Today there are just over 4,000 in the wild.

Threats to their population come from golden eagles, which can be four times their size. 

The United States Navy has also affected their population by trapping and euthanizing foxes, although since 2000 they have employed different strategies.

Appalachian Cottontail

The Appalachian cottontail is a species of rabbit found in the eastern regions of the United States. 

They are a small-sized rabbit weighing around 756 grams to 1153 grams and measuring 408 mm in length on average. 

The Appalachian cottontails has a light-yellow-brown fur with brown and red patches on the neck. These rabbits are well adapted to colder climates and are usually active at dusk and dawn.  

They hide in burrows or logs during the day to escape and to avoid predators. 

The Appalachian cottontail can be found in mountainous areas between 610 to 770 meters of elevation. They have excellent senses with heightened smell, hearing, and sight.

The population of the Appalachian cottontail is decreasing due to construction of housing and urban areas along with increased tourism into their habitats.

Desert Pocket Gopher

The Desert pocket gopher usually measures between 18 to 36 centimeters and reach weights of 120-250 grams. 

This rodent has a darker fur than other gophers and mostly live in the area around the Upper Rio Grande. 

They prefer to live in areas that are easier to dig so that they can build underground tunnels and burrows. They can change the soils of their habitats in more ways than other gophers.

Their population has decreased due to livestock farming and ranching, fires and droughts.

American Bison

The American bison is a large species of mammal from North America. They are also commonly called the American buffalo, although this is not quite correct. 

Their color is dark brown and gets darker in summer and lighter in winter. They measure from 2 to 2.8 m and weigh from 318 to 1,000 kg. 

Plains Bison

The bison is a herbivore and eats grasses and sedges. They live in river valleys, grasslands, semi-arid lands, prairies, and plains. 

Their lifespan is 15 years in the wild and 25 years in captivity. They are no longer classed as an endangered species.

Bison are still recovering from the mass slaughter at the end of the 1800s and into the 1900s.

For more information on the near extinction of the bison I have written this article.

Mohave Ground Squirrel

The Mohave ground squirrel spends half of the year underground in a state of torpor.  They emerge for the new green vegetation after missing the winter temperature and the summer droughts.

The Mohave ground squirrel is active during the day even in hot conditions but will forage in the shade.  They live in burrows underneath bushes or along washes.  They make sure that no other animals can get into the burrows at night by plugging up the door with soil.

They are pale brown with a light pinkish-brown on their forehead and feet.

They grow up to 23 cm in length which includes a tail of 7 cm.  They can weigh up to 300 grams.

The population of the Mohave ground squirrel is decreasing due to human intrusions on their habitats along with new houses and urban areas being built.

Allegheny Woodrat

The Allegheny woodrat is a nocturnal rodent from the eastern part of the United States. Their color is mostly brownish-gray, and the underbody and feet are white. 

The Allegheny woodrat measures from 31 to 45 cm (including the tail) and weigh about 450 g. This herbivore eats buds, fruits, seeds, leaves, stems, roots, acorns, nuts, and stems. 

The Allegheny woodrat lives in rocky areas (cliffs and caves) in deciduous forests. Their lifespan is three years in the wild. 

The Allegheny woodrat is becoming an endangered species. They are very destructive and carry many diseases.

The population of the Allegheny woodrat is decreasing. This decrease is due to residential and commercial development, along with mining and quarrying. Roads and railroads have also had an impact on their population.

Want to know what ten of the most endangered mammals in North America are? Find out in this article I wrote.

Lesser Long-nosed Bat

The Lesser long-nosed bat is a medium-sized bat found in North America and areas of Central America. 

Their total body length is around 8 centimeters, and they usually weigh between 15 and 25 grams. 

Their name derives from the long and narrow snout which terminates in a small nose-leaf. 

The lesser long-nosed bat has no visible tail. They commonly live in semi-arid grasslands or forests with altitudes below 550 meters above sea level. 

They can tolerate particularly high temperatures but can die at temperatures below 10C. 

During migration in the summer period, they may reach some areas of California and Arizona in the United States. These bats feed on nectar or saguaro, some cacti, and agaves.

The population of the lesser long-nosed bat is decreasing due to changes in mining in their habitats.

Sonoma Tree Vole

The Sonoma tree vole can be found in northwestern California and south through Sonoma county. They can be found around forests, gulches, meadows and fields.

They have reddish-gray fur with black tips. They have a white belly and a black tail with reddish fur.

They eat the bark of young coniferous trees and needles, and will strip the fir needles to eat only the outside. They subsist largely on fir needles and eat up to 2,400 needles a day.

They use the debris from the needles to construct their nest. Their nests have a main chamber and a small chamber which they use for excretion.

Females grow larger than males with a length up to 19cm long and a weight of 47 kg.

The population of the Sonoma tree vole is decreasing. New residential and commercial developments along with logging and wood harvesting have affected their population.

Washington Ground Squirrel

The Washington ground squirrel can be found in the Columbia Basin of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon.

They prefer areas with sandy soils that are well-drained and plenty of grass.  They are diurnal and feed on grasses, forms, bulbs, seeds, flowers and insects.  

They can be found around the Blue and Ochoco mountains and around the Columbia river.

The Washington ground squirrel has has brownish-gray bodies and are distinct to other species in the area due to white spots on their fur.  The spots can be as big as 4mm wide.  

They grow to a total length of 25 cm with a weight up to 300 grams.

The population of the Washington ground squirrel is decreasing due to hunting and trapping along with changes in agriculture.

Northern Long-eared Myotis

The Northern long-eared myotis is a species of bat.  They use echolocation to navigate while flying. 

Their color varies from yellowish light brown to black, and measure about 8.6 cm and weigh from 5 to 8 g. 

This insectivore eats mostly moths, beetles, flies, and leafhoppers. They live in boreal forests (taiga) in the eastern, central part of North America. Their lifespan is about 18.5 years. 

They are an endangered species due to a sickness that is killing the species.

The population of the Northern long-eared myotis is decreasing due to logging and wood harvesting and recreation activities by humans into their habitat.

We have to do all we can to save these animals. Once they are gone they are gone forever. As you can see from this article and on the IUCN website most of these populations are decreasing.

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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