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Possums Raccoons, Porcupines, Groundhogs And Beavers

  Author:  50864  Category:(Human Interest) Created:(4/1/2005 1:17:00 PM)
This post has been Viewed (11316 times)

POSSUMS North America's only marsupial (female has a pouch) mammal. The female carries and nurses her young in her marsupium until they are about 2 to 3 months old; then they are carried on her back another 1 to 2 months whenever they are away from the den.



Size of a cat; grey to black fur; black eyes; pink nose, feet and tail; black ears; and pointed nose.



Solitary and nocturnal: usually slow moving; when frightened and unable to flee may fall into an involuntary shock-like state, "playing 'possum".



Hiss or growl and show their 50 sharp teeth when frightened; but, in reality, they are gentle and placid— they prefer to avoid all confrontations and wish to be left alone.



Omnivorous: eats insects, snails, rodents, berries, over-ripe fruit, grasses, leaves, and carrion; occasionally will eat snakes, ground eggs, corn or other vegetables.



Adaptable; able to live wherever water, food, and shelter exist. At home in trees; uses its prehensile tail to help stabilize position when climbing— it does not, however, hang by its tail.



Few live beyond the age of 1 year in the environment; rare reports of living 5 to 10 years in captivity. Killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs, cats, owls, and larger wildlife.





The raccoon has gray to brown fur. It has a black mask around its eyes with white fur around the mask. It has a stripe that runs from its forehead to its nose and white fur around its nose. It has a bushy ringed tail and black paws with five toes. The raccoon's paws look a little like human hands. The raccoon's toes are flexible and it is very good at grabbing, pulling things apart and holding things. The raccoon is a very good climber and can go down a tree backwards or face first.

The common raccoon can be found in most of the United States except for parts of the Rocky Mountains, central Nevada, Utah and Arizona. It is also found in southern Canada and from Mexico to northern South America.

Raccoons live in wooded areas near water. They are very adaptable though and are also common in suburbs and cities. They usually make their dens in trees, but they may make their homes in abandoned woodchuck burrows, caves, barns, sewers, or even houses.

Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic. Common foods include fruits, nuts berries, insects, rodents, frogs, eggs, and crayfish. In some rural areas, corn is a large part of the raccoons diet. In suburban and urban areas they often forage through trash cans for food. If water is near, raccoons will sometimes put their food in the water and roll it around. It looks like they are washing their food, but they are not. They are softening it up and looking for foreign objects. .... Classification Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Procyonidae Genus: Procyon

Mating season runs January through March. A little over two months after mating, the female gives birth to a litter of between four to six young. The babies will be able to stand when they are about four to six weeks old. They are weaned at 70 days and start to hunt when they are between 9-12 weeks old. When they first come out of the den, the mother may carry them around by the neck like a cat carries a kitten. The mother also teaches them how to hunt for food and climb trees. Mother raccoons are very protective of their young and will attack predators that come too close to her young. Young raccoons have darker coats than mature raccoons. The babies may stay with their mother for up to a year.

Raccoons are mostly nocturnal. They are also solitary, except for mothers and their young. In the winter they may sleep in their dens for a few weeks but they do not hibernate. Raccoons usually walk, but they can run at speeds of up to 15 miles an hour. They are also good swimmers and often hunt for food in the water. Raccoons make a variety of vocalizations including hisses, whistles, screams, growls and snarls.





Porcupines



Quills:

Porcupines are large quilled animals. Quills are hardened, barbed hairs. Most porcupines can have as many as 30,000 quills. Porcupines have over 100 quills per square inch. They don't actually shoot their quills out . A porcupine will stick up its quills when threatened. They swing their tails to jab their quills into an unsuspecting animal. If the quills are in an animal they can go an inch a day. Once the quills are in the animal, if the animal moves its muscle the quill works deeper and deeper into the animal and eventually kills it. There is a porcupine called a hystrix cristata that is different because of its white crested quills.

Size, Weight, etc.:

A porcupine can grow to be 40 inches long and 40 pounds. Baby porcupines are called porcupettes. Porcupines weigh the most out of all the short legged rodents that are normally nocturnal, solitary, and herbivorous.

Feeding Habits:

Porcupines eat bark, buds, twigs, and leaves. Porcupines like to eat the tender layers of the tree under the bark. Every now and then they will take so much bark off that they kill the tree.

New World Porcupines And Old World Porcupines:

New world porcupines live in the trees for a while and old world porcupines stick to the ground. The most common of the new world porcupines is the forest living North American porcupine. The new world porcupines are a part of the erethizontidae family and the old world porcupines are hysricidae.

Warnings And Kinds Of Porcupines:

If a porcupine is threatened it will grunt, stamp, erect and rattle its quills as a warning. Some porcupines if cornered will run backward and try to use their strong tail to drive it in. Some species of porcupines are: prehensile tail porcupine, upper Amazon porcupine, thin tailed porcupine, thin spine porcupine, and North American porcupine. Crested porcupines have hollow quills on their tail that sound kind of like a hiss.





Defense:

If an animal any size gets quills in them and they don't get help soon they have a high chance of dying. Once quills have been used they will be replaced and they will grow to full length in 4 to 6 months. The quills' barb tipped ends have little scales. Once the quill is in the animal, it spreads out making it even harder to remove. Porcupines have poor vision, good ears and nose. Porcupines can see motion okay but other than that they really can't see. Fishers are weasels and they are about the same size as a big house cat. They are fast and smart so they are probably the porcupine's biggest wild enemy. If forest rangers think porcupines are killing too many trees they will release some fishers in that area.

Hairs:

Porcupines' guard hairs can be brown, black or yellowish. They have very thick fur under the guard hairs. In the summer their fur is shinier and much lighter than in the winter.

Interesting Stories:

Porcupines have been thought to be very slow, stupid, and clumsy but they are really very smart. One porcupine was known for using thin branches as elevators. Heights don't come even close to scaring them. They have been sited over 60 feet in the air! Porcupines might not be the fastest rodents but they are agile for their size, weight, and bulk. If a porcupine is about to fall it can hold its entire weight with one claw. Imagine holding yourself up-side-down sixty feet in the air by one toe or one finger! Porcupines don't fall often because they don't move unless they have a strong grip.





Groundhogs DESCRIPTION Groundhogs, also known as Woodchucks or Marmots, are large, ground-dwelling rodents, having a broad head, heavy body, short legs and a short, flattened tail. The fur is coarse , dark brown or grey with a frosted appearance. The total length may be up to 32 ins (82 cm), weight is variable but can be up to 12 lbs (5.5 kgs). It is found throughout the Midwest and Northeast of North America. One litter, of 2-9, is born per year; the young come out of the den to feed when 4-6 weeks old. ECONOMICS Groundhogs are a problem in suburban and rural areas; they invade gardens to feed on vegetables and plants. These animals may establish their burrows under buildings in rural areas. Groundhogs are agricultural pests, eating corn, barley, oats, wheat, peas, beans, melons and other crops; their trampling causes as much loss as the amount of food consumed. They climb and damage trees to get at fruit. The mounds of earth pushed from their burrows are unsightly and horses and farm animals may be injured by stepping into their burrows; these burrows can cause cave-ins of embankments and roads. Groundhogs have been implicated in the spread of Plague, Tularemia and Spotted Fever. The Groundhog tick (Ixodes cookei), which infests Groundhogs occasionally migrates into human dwellings. HABITS Groundhogs rarely move more than 100 yards from their dens or other refuge; they feed mainly in early morning or later afternoon. Their food includes leaves, flowers, buds and soft stems, tree barks and fruits; about one per cent of their diet is insects. Groundhogs can consume up to one-third of their weight per day. Groundhogs are true hibernators, sometimes spending as much three-quarters of their lives sleeping. Their burrows may go down as deep as 6 feet, there are always 2 or more entrances; most of the time they are solitary animals and apparently show no strong territorial defense of feeding areas. It's size and ferocity with which it will fight when cornered means it has very few enemies.

Beavers

Beavers are known to be the largest rodents found in North America and Canada. This species (scientific name Castor canadensisis) is well distributed across the United States and Canada. Yet, you will not see the American Beaver in either Florida, or Mexico. This type of climate does not suit the famous rodent. Its outstanding qualities and abilities have provided for much popularity. The Beaver is one of the most reputable animals and is definitely a much-admired rodent in both the United States and Canada. It is the National symbol of Canada and two US states, namely Oregon and New York have adopted it as the state symbol. Beavers - Description The Beaver reaches the weight of about 60-70 pounds. In fact, its size varies from one area to another and depends greatly on the amount of available food. In times when food is most abundant, Beavers can grow to be about 80 pounds. However, their average weight is about 35 pounds, like that of a medium-sized dog. As for the difference between sexes, male Beavers are not much larger than females. In fact, individual females are known to be larger than males. The total length of an adult Beaver is about 41-46 inches. A long saddle-like tail provides much of the length. The tail can grow to be about 10-16 inches with thickness about one-half in the middle. The Beaver's powerful tail that is 5-6 inches wide serves as a rudder when swimming and it has a number of other uses. As a matter of fact, the tail is a very important device that helps the Beaver not only underwater but also on land. The species is known to use the tail when standing on its hind legs. The tail, in this case, can be compared to a prop that safely keeps its owner in a vertical position. Iterant sounds that are often heard in a Beaver home range are also due to Beaver's tail appliance. The animal slaps the water in the case of danger. It is believed that this sort of slapping may be a warning signal meant to other Beavers who usually establish their homes up or down the same stream.

Beavers are mainly aquatic animals that spend most of time underwater. When on land, Beaver's movements are clumsy and far from elegant. Short legs and a heavy, rocket-like body are poor equipment to make a good runner or climber. Yet, water is a perfect environment for the Beaver. Indeed, the Beaver can boast to have virtually everything to permit the Beaver to feel right at home in the water. Webbed feet and a long flat tail provide for quick swimming. Transparent eyelids and valves on their small ears and nose that close once the animal goes underwater, allow it to stay underwater for a long period of time. Beavers are known to submerge for about 3-4 minutes. This time is enough for them to swim about one-half mile before having to replenish the amount of oxygen. This ability is truly wonderful, yet it is not the limit. It is estimated that the Beaver is capable of staying underwater for more than 10 minutes.

Perhaps one feature of the most prominent features of the Beaver is its sharp teeth. Four incisors, or gnawing teeth, are about one inch long and grow throughout the whole life of the animal. This quality is common in other rodents arming them with an ever-effective means of managing food and other hard materials. The Beaver's coat also deserves attention. The animal has a soft undercoat that provides for insulation during cold weather and a long guard coat. The undercoat is lighter in color ranging from reddish to brown, while the outer coat is usually of deep chestnut brown colors. Beavers use the oil from glands that are situated on the belly to grease their hairs all over the body. This simple procedure is a perfect means of protecting the coat from cold water. Photo courtesy of British Columbia Adventure Network © 1996-2003

Beavers - Diet Beavers feed mainly on what they can find in their habitat. This includes vegetarian food such as aspen, willow, cottonwood, leaves, apples, crops, and similar fare. Fish can also comprise Beaver's ration, yet the animal does not hunt. It eats dead fish found near-by. Careful and prudent, Beavers hide food in their underwater tunnels to make use of it in winter periods. Beavers - Value Beavers are considered a "cornerstone species" since they change the habitat they live in like no other animal. Thanks to the Beaver, other species such as turtles, frogs, birds, and fish can find a good home and enjoy naturally created habitat. Naturally created wetlands help to cleanse the water and serve as filters that are instrumental in getting rid of pollutants and silt. These areas are a valuable means of irrigation and water control. Beavers take a fitting niche in present day environment and do a perfect job. Besides, their fur, oil from castor glands, and other garments are quite valuable and can successfully be used in the fur and perfume industry, and any other sphere humans can find application. However, economic and ecological values of the Beaver have been the subject of much debate of late. With growing numbers of animals in practically every state and province, damage caused by this rodent's activity seems to surpass its value. Dams result in flooding which can be negative for forests, roads, and agriculture. Beavers may damage fish and farm ponds and destroy agricultural crops when feeding. A number of other dreadful effects caused by this species' activities have aroused the need for managing Beavers and preventing them from undesirable habitat changes.



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Halloween is Right around the corner.. .







 
Replies:      
Date: 4/1/2005 1:32:00 PM  From Authorid: 25828    i tamed a groundhog once, i have photos of it letting me kiss it on the face (nose)..wise took the photo so he is my witness 8-)  
Date: 4/1/2005 2:04:00 PM  From Authorid: 35114    Badgers! http://www.ebaumsworld.com/badgers.html lol sorry, gotta share the scaryness with others...  
Date: 4/1/2005 3:21:00 PM  From Authorid: 53284    We had a Possum in our garage once. I thought it was a prehistoric rat. It looked like it had about 500 sharp little teeth. I crawled under the water heater. Once I saw the teeth, I opend the garage door and watch it from a distance. Once it got out in the open I could tell it was a possum.  

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