Course Outline

The large mammal group typically includes horned animals, antlered animals, bears, and large members of the wild cat or wild dog families.

Horned or antlered animals have these key characteristics.

  • Horns are hollow and are not shed. Wild sheep and goats have horns.
  • Antlers are solid bone and are shed annually. Members of the deer family have antlers and rub their antlers on trees.
  • Horned and antlered animals are cloven-hoofed (their hooves have two parts).
  • Horned and antlered animals are ruminants (they chew cud). A ruminant digests its food in two steps. First they eat food and regurgitate it (cud), and then they eat it a second time. They have a hard upper pad that they use to mash their food.

Characteristics of Mammals

  • Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair. Young are nourished with milk from the mother.
  • Mammals can be carnivorous (meat-eating), herbivorous (plant-eating), or omnivorous (meat- and plant-eating).
  • Mammals seek to regulate their temperature. Mammals in cold climates must keep warm, and mammals in hot climates must keep cool.
  • Small mammals live shorter lives than large mammals, in general.
  • Mammals vary in social behavior—some species live in groups, and other species are solitary except when mating or raising offspring.

Some Large Mammals and Their Tracks

White-tailed deer
Tracks of a white-tailed deer
Pronghorn antelope
Tracks of a pronghorn antelope
Rocky mountain elk
Tracks of a rocky mountain elk
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