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The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Preface

This book is devoted to mammals, which are the class of vertebrate animals possessing hair, with the females having milk-secreting glands. One group of mammals, the cetaceans (whales and dolphins) have a layer of blubber instead of hair. This class, having among its representative genera certain species that fly, others that glide, swim, climb, burrow, leap, or run, is perhaps the most versatile and adaptable of the vertebrate animal groups.

Texas, with its variety of soils, climate, vegetation, and topography, as well as extensive coastline, is the home of more than 181 distinct species of mammals. The locomotive versatility of the various members of the class is responsible in part for the occurrence of mammals in our deserts, forests, mountains, prairies, high plains, and waters.

This book represents the fifth account published by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department detailing the kinds of mammals that occur in Texas with information about their lives and economic importance. Dr. W. P. Taylor and Dr. W. B. Davis collaborated to prepare The Mammals of Texas, published by the former Texas Game and Fish Commission as Bulletin No. 27, in August 1947. Recognizing the growing interest in Texas mammals and the expanding knowledge about the many kinds of mammals in the state, Dr. Davis in 1960 wrote an entirely new bulletin, designated as Bulletin No. 41, which served as an identification key to Texas mammals and also provided information on their distribution and life histories. Dr. Davis revised Bulletin No. 41 in 1966 and again in 1974.

Dwindling supplies and increasing popularity of Bulletin No. 41 prompted the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to seek an updating of this informative publication. For this purpose, wildlife expert and mammalogist Dr. David J. Schmidly very graciously agreed to update Dr. Davis’ publication and make needed revisions in the species distribution maps and other portions of the bulletin. Most of the changes were made to update the identification keys and geographic ranges of mammals in Texas and its adjacent waters. The natural history descriptions, for the most part, remain essentially as detailed by Dr. Davis in Bulletin No. 41.

Simplicity is the basic goal in organizing this book. Accounts for each species are arranged so that they contain in sequence (1) a brief description of the mammal, with special emphasis given to distinguishing features, accompanied in most cases by a photograph; (2) a description of the geographic distribution of the species in Texas, with reference to a map; and (3) a discussion of some of the basic life history of the mammal, including habitat preferences, reproduction, behavior, and food habits. This information has been taken from observations recorded by other researchers and reported in the scientific literature as well as the personal experiences of the authors based on more than 50 years of field work in Texas. On the distribution maps, counties where specimens of mammals have been reported, either in the literature or represented by a scientific specimen located in a museum collection, are indicated by black dots; the probable range for most species is shaded in.

Students of wildlife and citizens interested in conservation and natural history will find much help in this revision of The Mammals of Texas, by Dr. W. B. Davis (Professor Emeritus of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences), and Dr. David J. Schmidly (Professor and Curator of Mammals in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences) of Texas A&M University, both of whom are recognized internationally as authorities on mammals.

Andrew Sansom
Executive Director