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Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America: Fourth Edition (Peterson Field Guides) Paperback – November 15, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Fiona A. Reid has led nature tours for Questers Tours and Travel, New York, for the past decade, showing tourists the wonders of diverse lands from Indonesia to Alaska to Venezuela. An accomplished writer and artist, she has written and/or illustrated numerous field guides, including A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico, The Golden Guide to Bats of the World, and Mammals of the Neotropics.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

RACCOONS AND RELATIVES: Procyonidae Procyonids have 5 toes on each foot, and most walk with soles flat on the ground, although the Ringtail walks on its toes. They are omnivorous, consuming large amounts of fruit when available. This family is restricted to the New World, and most species are tropical.

RINGTAIL Bassariscus astutus P l . 52, Skull Pl .7 Cacomistle, Ring-tailed Cat Head and body 13–15 in. (34–38 cm); tail 13–16 in. (33–41 cm); wt. 13/4– 21/2 lb. (0.8–1.1 kg). Slim and catlike. Short pointed snout; large eyes with whitish eye-rings. Body grayish. Long bushy tail with very distinct black and white bands. Eyeshine bright reddish orange. SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Raccoon is larger with a much shorter tail. White-nosed Coati has a long snout and an indistinctly banded tail. SOUNDS: Generally quiet. Sharp barks, growls, and undulating howls sometimes given. HABITS: Nocturnal. Seldom seen, but not very shy when encountered. Dens among rock crevices or in burrows, hollow trees, or attics by day; seldom emerges before dark. Lithe and agile; seems to glide along canyon walls and can travel rapidly on tree branches. Can rotate wrists 180° for climbing down rock walls and trees. Varied diet includes small mammals, invertebrates, carrion, fruit, and acorns. Usually solitary and territorial; pairs sometimes remain together after mating. Breeds March–April; 1–4 young are born after 7 weeks’ gestation. Young start hunting at 2–3 months. HABITAT: Dry, rocky, or mountainous areas with scattered oaks and conifers. RANGE: S. Ore., Colo., and Tex. to Baja Calif. and Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. STATUS: Fairly common.

NORTHERN RACCOON Procyon lotor Pl. 52, Skull Pl. 7 Head and body 16–24 in. (40–60 cm); tail 6–16 in. (15–40 cm); wt. 5–33 lb. (2.3–15 kg). The familiar “masked bandit.” Black nose and mask contrasts with white sides of muzzle and white above eyes. Fur long, grizzled grayish. Tail rather short, banded cream or orange and black. Eyeshine yellowish. GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION: North: large, dark, and short-tailed. South: paler, smaller-bodied, and long-tailed. Florida Keys: smallest (wt. 5–8 lb.), very pale with an indistinct mask. Mainland Florida: small, long-legged, often orange- brown on shoulders. SIMILAR SPECIES: Ringtail and Whitenosed Coati have relatively longer tails. SOUNDS: Generally quiet. High-pitched squeals, growls, and screams in aggression or courtship. Mother trills to young. HABITS: Mainly nocturnal, but sometimes seen by day. Moves with a characteristic bouncing gait, back arched and head held low. Lopes off or retreats up a tree when caught in a light. Sleeps by day on a branch or in a tree hollow, sometimes in a burrow or building. Eats a wide variety of plant and animal food and often hunts along streams or marshes. Dabbles in water for prey and manipulates items with front paws, but does not wash food. Does not hibernate but may stay in den for several days in bad weather. Usually solitary; groups of up to 20 may share a den, and young remain with the mother for 6–9 months. Adult females stay in the same area; males travel more widely in search of mates. Breeding takes place in early spring, and 2–7 young are born April–May. Juveniles disperse in fall or stay with mother over winter. HABITAT: Varied. Most common in wetlands, damp woods, and suburban areas. RANGE: S. Canada and most of U.S., through Mexico and Central America to cen. Panama. STATUS: Abundant. Hunted in some areas for fur or sport. Can carry rabies and other parasites; raids cornfields and henhouses.

WHITE-NOSED COATI Nasua narica Pl. 52, Skull Pl. 7 Coatimundi Head and body 17–27 in. (44–68 cm); tail 16–27 in. (40–68 cm); wt. 6–14 lb. (2.7–6.5 kg). Long mobile snout; white muzzle and white spots above and below eyes. Mainly brown, shoulders grizzled with cream. Long, indistinctly banded tail often held erect. Eyeshine bluish white. SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Raccoon has a shorter tail. Ringtail is smaller and short-nosed, with a more distinctly banded tail. SOUNDS: Short sharp barks in alarm; whines, chatters, and chirps used for group contact. HABITS: Diurnal, unlike other procyonids. Travels and feeds mainly on the ground but can climb well. Sleeps on a tree branch at night and during the heat of the day. Feeds on invertebrates in the leaf litter, small vertebrates, and fruit. Erect, slowly waving tails are often one’s first sight of a group parading through the woods. Females, subadults, and young live in stable groups of up to about 40. Males are solitary except during the breeding season (“Coatimundi” is a South American term for a lone male). Mating takes place in April, with 2–5 young born in June. HABITAT: Canyons and mountainss, mainly in oak-sycamore woods near water, sometimes in coniferous forest or desert scrub. RANGE: Se. Ariz., sw. N.M., and s. Tex. Also throughouuuuut Mexico and Central America to n. Colombia. STATUS: Threatened in Texas (Texas Parks and Wildlife), uncommon and local in Arizona and New Mexico. Common south of the U.S. border.

FISHER Martes pennanti Pl . 55, Skull Pl. 8 Head and body 17–31 in. (45–78 cm); tail 12–16 in. (31–41 cm); wt. 41/2–12 lb. (2–5.5 kg). Male is about twice as heavy as female. Large, long-bodied, and bushy-tailed. Head, neck, and shoulders grizzled yellow-brown or grayish yellow; body dark brown with long dark guard hairs; legs, feet, and tail blackish. SIMILAR SPECIES: See American Marten. Wolverine is larger with yellowish bands from shoulder to rump. SOUNDS: Usually silent; may hiss, growl, or make a low throaty call if disturbed. HABITS: Active day or night. Climbs well but usually hunts on the ground. Eats a variety of small mammals, especially Snowshoe Hares, also fruit, nuts, and fungi; is attracted to carrion. Well known as one of the few predators of adult porcupines, which it attacks on the ground, biting at the face and eventually flipping the animal to open its unarmored belly. Usually sleeps on tree branches in summer and in hollow trees or belowground in winter. Does not hibernate, but its movements are hindered by deep soft snow. Litters of 1–6 are born March–April. Breeding takes place soon after young are born; implantation of the embryo is delayed for about 11 months. HABITAT: Mature coniferous or deciduous-coniferous forest with plentiful fallen trees. RANGE: S. Canada and mts. of West. Local in New England and Mid-Atlantic States. STATUS: Range and numbers greatly reduced in 1900s by overtrapping for fur and habitat loss. Reintroduced widely, recovering in suitable habitat.

WHITE-TAILED DEER Odocoileus virginianus Pl. 41, Skull Pls. 10, 11 Key Deer Shoulder ht. 13/4–31/2 ft. (0.5–1.1 m); wt. 50–300 lb. (23–135 kg). Highly variable in size, male about 20 percent larger than female. Coat usually grayish in winter, reddish brown in summer. Belly white. Ears medium sized, about 1/3 length of head. Tail relatively long, edge of rump and underside of tail white. Metatarsal gland (on hind leg) short, less than 2 in. (3 cm) long, whitish. Antlers of male have small brow tines and one main beam, with several vertically directed points branching off the main beam. Fawn reddish brown with white spots. Spots fade after 3–4 months. GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION: Numerous subspecies occur in the U.S., the most distinctive being Key Deer, Coues’s White-tail, Carmen Mountain White-tail, and Columbian White-tail. Key Deer (Florida Keys) is very small (wt. 50–77 lb., 23–35 kg), coat reddish brown to yellow-brown. (Deer in mainland Florida are slightly larger than Key Deer but much smaller than more northerly races.) Coues’s White-tail (Arizona and w. New Mexico) and Carmen Mountain White-tail (Big Bend, Texas) are small with relatively long ears and grayish fur (gray- yellow in summer, slightly grayer in winter). Columbian White-tail (Pacific Northwest) is moderately small and dark with compact antlers. Largest subspecies are found in Canada and n. U.S. SIMILAR SPECIES: Mule Deer has longer ears and a shorter white tail tipped with black. Male Mule Deer has antlers with more than one main branch. SOUNDS: Sharply exhaled nasal snort in alarm, also foot-stamping. Buck may grunt when fighting. HABITS: Mainly nocturnal or crepuscular, but where not hunted may be seen at any time of day. Makes a bed in grass, leaves, or snow when resting. When encountered, this familiar species may snort and raise its “white flag” as it bounds off, only to drop the flag when nearly out of sight. Feeds on leaves, twigs, nuts, berries, and fungi; also grazes on grass or crops such as corn and soybeans. Usually seen in small groups of females and young or in groups of bachelor males. In winter, groups may join up in “deer yards” of up to 150. In North requires conifer stands for overwintering. Groups are not territorial but maintain a fixed home range that may be long and narrow, allowing access to a variety of habitats. During the breeding season, mature buck rubs forehead and antlers on saplings and makes scrapes that are marked with urine. These areas are visited repeatedly by bucks and does. Mating takes place in fall in North, midwinter in South. Females are mature at 1 year but usually first breed at age 2. Two-year-old females usually have a single fawn, then twins each year thereafter. For the first month of life the fawn is left in a well-concealed place when the mother forages. If disturbed, fawn remains motionless, relying on its spotted coat for camouflage. As the fawn matures it travels with the mother, using speed to avoid predators. Maximum lifespan is 20 years, but commonly less than 10 years in the wild. HABITAT: Variable; main requirements are some woodland for cover and open areas for foraging. Most abundant in low-lying, fragmented, eastern deciduous forest and in mesquite brushland or thorn scrub. Also occurs in arid areas and montane forest, where it uses riparian corridors for water and cover. RANGE: S. Canada and most of U.S. south through Mexico and Central America to n. South America. STATUS: Key Deer (O. v. clavium) and Columbian Whitetail (O. v. leucurus) are endangered (USFWS). Elsewhere generally common to abundant. This deer has benefited from human activity and is thriving in suburban and agricultural areas.

Copyright © 2006 by Fiona A. Reid. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Product Details

  • Series: Peterson Field Guides (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 4 edition (November 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395935962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395935965
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.3 x 4.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Leia A. Tyndall on November 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
As someone majoring in Wildlife Science, I needed to have a field guide for my studies. I bought the previous edition about 3 yrs ago, but found it lacking. For example, it showed the historic range of raccoons, but not the current (expanded) range. It also used older genera (plural for genus) names & had very few bat species depicted. These & other factors made it impractical for me to use the book in my studies.

However, this new edition appears to be much more applicable for someone like me. It has color maps (the 3rd edition's maps were black & white) which are included in the species accounts (rather than at the end). Introduced species & their populations are shown in blue; historic ranges are shown using dashed lines; & sea mammals' ranges are included (no ranges were given for them in the 3rd ed.). Select maps are even shown with county lines drawn in in large states like CA & TX so residents can easily determine whether a species is in their county or not.

The color plates are better too. Animals are depicted in more natural body positions & appear more lifelike. There are many many more bat species depicted than in the 3rd ed. Sea mammals are included in the color plates; in the third edition, they were only depicted in black & white drawings. Introduced species (like the Blackbuck) are also depicted in this section. Select black & white animal tracks are included in the color plate section, rather than on the inside cover.

Skull identification is very important to biologists, since skulls are often all you'll find of an animal. This book has color photos of various skulls. The 3rd ed. had only black & white photos, which wasn't so bad, but I like the color photos better.
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Format: Paperback
Fiona Reid has created a tour-de-force in The new Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, the first update of the Peterson series on mammals in thirty years. This is the best Peterson Field guide ever, the ideal gift or stocking stuffer and a must have for anyone who loves environment, natural history, the outdoors and wildlife, from your budding naturalist eight-year old to your birder grandmother in Wisconsin.

The new guide combines all the best features of recent ground-breaking field guides in a completely new book. It is both encyclopeadic and accessible, beautiful to hold in the hand and, as has always been the case with the Peterson series, the perfect size to take to the field. It will also look very good on your window sill and be handy next time that bear or ermine comes to the feeder.

A revision was of Peterson's Mammal Guide was long overdue and Fiona Reid has gone about it masterfully. In comparing the new and the old guide, one need only look at the new paintings to realize how much we needed this brand new treatment of North American mammals and to see how beautiful a book this is. Our knowledge has advanced tremendously, even for better known groups such as the carnivores; but it is when you spend some time with groups such as the bats and the chipmunks that you begin to realize just how far we have come since the last edition in our understanding of the mammalian diversity we see around us. Brilliant author-biologist-artist Fiona Reid has captured the traditional basics of a field guide with astounding plates and just the right amount of detail on ranges, biology, morphology, and even environmental threats.

This is the new gold-standard of field guides.
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This new guide is hands down the best mammal guide for North America currently available. An impressive volume and effort by the author. The artwork is superb, the photography crisp, and the phylogeny and other science accurate and up to date.
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Good book, there are some north american species maybe overpass because live in North Mexico includieng Baja which should begin in the guide, otherwise the propper name should be USA & Canada mammals guide. The carrier left the book on the rain, not destroyed at all.
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A thorough guide to North American animals. Lot's of color plates and informative. It even covers animals in their stages like a fox in winter and midsummer and how their coats change color.

To put it simply you won't be disappointed.
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This Peterson Guide offers a very well-rounded selection of animals at a great price. You won't find a plate of every little-known vole species in existence, but you'll find more than you've likely ever heard of. An especially useful addition to this field guide is the extensive series of skull plates. No field guide on mammals is required to have a section dedicated to osteology, but this Peterson Guide goes above and beyond the call of duty in this respect.

Inevitably, you'll find an animal here or there that is placed under a genus or species that has since been revised by the scientific community. Knowledge concerning mammalian taxonomy is simply increasing faster than revised editions can be printed, so this doesn't really represent a 'weakness' in the Peterson Guide.
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By CAM on March 7, 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book arrived on time and was packaged well. I do not recommended this book because of the year it was published. A lot has changed in terms of biological orders since this book was written. I found the information to be outdated. That being said I did appreciate the geographic maps included through the text.
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