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Mammals of the Mountain!

Mammals of the Mountain!

Sierra Outdoor School (S.O.S.) is not just a place for a few days visit, but it is also called ‘Home’ to a wide variety of wildlife. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, and surrounded by the Stanislas National Forest, many animals, plants… Ecosystems thrive in this area at 4100’ feet. Today we are going to be taking a closer look at the mammals of this mountain community.

Now, some of you might be wondering “What makes a Mammal a Mammal?” Mammals have five main characteristics that classify them differently from other groups of animals such as birds, amphibians and reptiles. All mammals share these features, of all shapes, sizes and species! Including people, we are mammals too.

1) Vertebrates! We all have a backbone called a spinal cord that is made of different vertebrae bones.
2)  We are warm blooded. Using our metabolism and energy from the food we eat, we regulate our body to keep a warm body temperature.
3) We all breath air through our lungs.
4) Young mammals nurse (drink milk) from their mothers when they are born.
5) Finally, hair or fur. Short or long, shaggy or smooth all mammals have hair. Even mammals who look like they have no hair, at one point in time in their life there was hair somewhere on their body. 

The most common mammals that we see in the forest during our classes at SOS are squirrels, chipmunks and mule deer. However, many other mammals live here too, even if we don’t always see them. Wild animals are quite elusive, and afraid of people. We know that we share a mountain home with them at SOS because of the signs they leave behind, like tracks, shed fur and scat. Other mammals that call this mountain home are rabbit, mice, grey fox, skunks, coyotes, bobcats mountain lion and black bears.

Did you know…
….that the grey fox is the only member of the canid (dog family) that can climb trees.
…..that the most common food item in the black bears diet is actually plant material. They are omnivores, which means they can eat both veggies and meat. People are also omnivores.
…..Mule deer have a black tipped tail
….striped skunks will not spray unless they feel threatened. Before they do they give many warnings in the form of stomping there feet, arching there back and raising there tail to look big and tough.

Written by : Sarah Johanson
Photos by : Angel Olavarria


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