Mammals in the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods plays host to a wide array of mammals.  Some you'll see frequently, some you might never see.  (I can say with some certainty that you won't see Theo.  But never stop looking for him.) 

Bats

Little Brown Bat Myotis lucifungus
Colorado BatsLittle Brown Bat - Myotis lucifungus
Townsend’s Big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii)Townsend’s Big-eared bat - Corynorhinus townsendii
Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)Pallid Bat - Antrozous pallidus

Bats:  There are 18 species of bat in Colorado.  They all sleep during the day and come out just after sunset for a few hours to eat bugs.  These are the most common bats in the Garden.  They like to sleep in the rocky holes on the east face of Sleeping Giant formation.

Little Brown bat (Myotis lucifungus)
    Size:  1.5 - 2”
Townsend’s Big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii)
    Size:  2.5 - 3”
Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)
    Size:  2.75 - 3”     

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep in ColoradoBighorn Sheep - Ovis canadensis
Bighorn Sheep in ColoradoBighorn Sheep - Ovis canadensis

Bighorn Sheep - Ovis canadensis

Size: Length: 4 - 6'
         Height: 2.5 - 3.5'
         Tail length: 3 - 6"

The herd of about 100 bighorn sheep live north of the Garden in Queens Canyon.  They are the descendants of a group of sheep that were left in the area when the truck moving them to Pikes Peak in 1946 broke down. The hope was that they would make their way to their destination but they had other plans and have been in Queens Canyon ever since.  If you’re in the North Parking Lot, look to the rocks to the north so catch a glimpse.  They do blend in so look carefully.

Black Bear - Ursus americanus

Black Bear in Colorado - Ursus americanusBlack Bear - Ursus americanus
Black Bear in Colorado - Ursus americanusBlack Bear - Ursus americanus

Black Bear - Ursus americanus

Size:    Length: 4.6 - 6'
            Height: 3 - 3.5' when on all fours

Coloring - Nearly all black, but they can be brown, tan or cinnamon. 

These guys are not likely to be seen in the park.  But you can keep your eyes open for their scat.  You may also spot claw marks on trees.  They will eat almost anything so make sure you deposit your picnic trash in a bear-proof trash can in the Garden.

Bobcat- Lynx rufus

Colorado Bobcat - Lynx rufusBobcat - Lynx rufus
Colorado Bobcat - Lynx rufusBobcat - Lynx rufus

Bobcat- Lynx rufus

Size:  Length: 2.5 - 3.5'
          Height: 2'
          Weight: 10 - 20 pounds
          Tail length: 3 - 7"

The first time I saw a bobcat, I thought, “Gosh, that’s a big housecat.”  Then I noticed the distinctive pointed ears and knew what I was looking at.

Coloring - light brown to light gray with long fur pointing down from their cheeks. 

This is the smallest Colorado wild cat.  Despite their size they are capable of taking down a deer.  But they’re more likely to feast on smaller animals.  They hunt at night so they’re rarely seen in the Garden. 

Colorado Chipmunk - Tamias quadrivittatus

Colorado Chipmunk - Tamias quadrivittatusColorado Chipmunk - Tamias quadrivittatus
Colorado Chipmunk - Tamias quadrivittatusColorado Chipmunk - Tamias quadrivittatus

Colorado Chipmunk - Tamias quadrivittatus

Size:    Length: 3.5 - 4.5"
            Tail length: 3.5 - 4"
            They only weigh 2 or 3 ounces.

Coloring:  Rusty orange to brown with light and dark stripes.  Unlike their cousin ground squirrels, these guys have stripes on their faces.

They are omnivores so they eat everything from bugs to seeds and nuts.

Coyote - Canis latrans

Colorado Coyote - Canis latransCoyote - Canis latrans
Colorado Coyote - Canis latransCoyote - Canis latrans

Coyote- Canis latrans

Size: Length: 3 - 3.5'
         Height: 2'
         Tail length: 12 - 15"

Coloring:  Tan fur with black and orange markings. They have a long nose and long, lanky legs.

Though in old westerns, the Colorado Coyotes sound like wolves howling, in reality, they sound much more like screaming women.  They hunt in pairs and eat small mammals, snakes and birds.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralis

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralisGolden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralis
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralisGolden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralis

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus lateralis

Size:  Length: 7 - 9"
          Tail length: 2.5 - 4.5"
          They weigh from 6 - 14 ounces.

Coloring:  Brown with a gray back.  Their head, neck and shoulders are reddish gold - hence the name - with black stripes down their sides. 

This squirrel is bigger than the Colorado chipmunk.  Unlike the chipmunk, they don’t have stripes on their faces.

Long-tailed Weasel- Mustela frenata

Long-tailed Weasel- Mustela frenataLong-tailed Weasel- Mustela frenata
Long-tailed Weasel- Mustela frenataLong-tailed Weasel- Mustela frenata

Long-tailed Weasel- Mustela frenata

Size:  Length: 6 - 16"
          Tail length: 3 - 6"
          Weight: 3 - 9 ounces

Coloring - light brown with a light yellow chin down to his belly.  His brown tail is black tipped.  In winter he’s all white with the black tipped tail.

He’s a voracious hunter and eats any animal that he can kill - including mice, birds, and reptiles.  He eats a lot to keep himself warm. 

Mountain Lion - Felis concolor

Colorado Mountain Lion - Felis concolorMountain Lion - Felis concolor
Colorado Mountain Lion - Felis concolorMountain Lion - Felis concolor

Mountain Lion- Felis concolor - aka Cougar

Size:  Length: 5 - 6'
          Height: 2.5 - 3'
          Tail length: 2 - 3'
          Weight: 80 - 250 pounds

Coloring: Carmel colored with a light gray belly.  His pink nose and white whiskers and chin are distinctive. 

They don’t really like human contact but they are seen in the Garden from time to time.  They kill and eat mule deer and bighorn sheep.  They prefer the foothills to the main Garden so be aware of your surroundings on the trails.

Mule Deer - Odocoileus hemionus

Colorado Mule Deer - Odocoileus hemionusMule Deer - Odocoileus hemionus
Colorado Mule Deer - Odocoileus hemionusMule Deer - Odocoileus hemionus

Mule Deer- Odocoileus hemionus

Size:  Length: 4 - 7.5'
          Height: 3.5 - 4'
          Tail length: 4 - 9"
          Weight: 100 - 500 pounds

Coloring:  Reddish brown in the summer to gray in winter.  They have a white chin, neck and butt.  They have very large ears, a black-tipped white tail. 
They are stockier and larger than their cousin the white-tailed deer which can be seen further north near the Air Force Academy.

They are throughout the Garden and feast on the mountain mahogany and Gambel oak. 

Nuttall’s Cottontail - Syvilagus nuttallii

Nuttall’s Cottontail - Syvilagus nuttalliiNuttall’s Cottontail - Syvilagus nuttallii
Nuttall’s Cottontail - Syvilagus nuttalliiNuttall’s Cottontail - Syvilagus nuttallii

Nuttall’s Cottontail- Syvilagus nuttallii - aka Mountain Cottontail

Size:   Length: 11.5  12.5"
           Tail Length: 1 to 2"
           Weight: 1.5 to 2.5 pounds

Coloring:  Gray to light brown with black-tipped fur. Their neck can be rusty brown. They have large pointy ears.

These cottontails don’t go far when startled - a few hops and then they stop and play statue.  They eat grass and other plants and bark.  They have a lot of predators in the Garden, from coyotes to falcons, snakes to foxes.

Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes

Red Fox - Vulpes vulpesRed Fox - Vulpes vulpes
Red Fox - Vulpes vulpesRed Fox - Vulpes vulpes

Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes

Size:  Length: 22 - 24"
          Height: 15 - 16"
          Tail length: 13 - 17" and thickly furred

Coloring:  Rusty red with dark markings.  He has black-tipped ears, black on the sides of his nose and white cheeks and chest. His legs are dark gray to black. 
They raise their young in dens, even in highly populated areas.  They eat rabbits, rodents, nuts and berries.

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