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24 Hours: African Brush-Tailed Porcupine (Atherurus africanus)
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Number 0087 The African brush-tailed porcupine lives in Kenya, Gambia, and Zaire. It hangs out in caves during the day and is nocturnal to the point of not coming out if there’s a bright full moon. They attack their enemies by backing into them, releasing their spines from their backs. Yansci requested a porcupine, and Ted got to pick the...

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24 Hours: Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
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Number 0084 Soon, it will be the year of the rat, which is why Ramona requested this fellow. She’s a rat herself—astrologically speaking—which is why we could call her Ratmona, but I don’t think we should. Black rats are also called roof rats, house rats, and ship rats, which I suppose gives us a good idea of where we can expect to find...

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Red Agouchi (Myoprocta agouchy)
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Number 0077 Here we go, stepping unwittingly into another mammalian taxonomic morass. This guy you see here is an agouchi, that much is certain. His exact variety, as well as its scientific name, is a little less clear, at least to me. My Handbook to the Orders and Families of Living Mammals says there are two agouchi species. A cursory search reveals that these...

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Meadow Vole (Field Mouse) (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
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Number 0075 The meadow vole, meadow mouse, field mouse, or field vole is among the most populous mammals in the northeastern United States. Female meadow voles have to start reproducing when they’re three weeks old, and then they have litters about every three weeks thereafter, presumably until they die. (Males wait until they’re around six weeks old to start reproducing.) Can you...

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Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens)
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Number 0069 The giant kangaroo rat, which is native to California, uses its bushy tail as a rudder to help it make sudden turns when it’s leaping across the desert. It has big pouches in its cheeks where it stores its food and materials for building its nest, and it takes dust baths to keep its skin conditioned. Giant kangaroo rats are critically endangered,...

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Azara’s Agouti (Dasyprocta azarae)
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Number 0067 Agoutis—there are 13 species—are large rodents that live in South America, Central America, and the West Indies. The Azara’s variety lives in Brazil and neighboring countries. They have long legs and an elegant grace about them. My copy of Living Mammals of the World by Ivan T. Sanderson makes agoutis as a whole sound incredibly unappealing: “Admittedly, there is nothing much about...

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Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)
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Number 0061 Prairie dogs, which are small ground squirrels, live only in North America. One of the species that lives here in Albuquerque is the black-tailed prairie dog, like this chubby fellow. They live in complicated underground “towns.” Related prairie dogs greet each other by touching their front teeth together. It looks like they’re kissing. Now, prairie dogs are not just cute little guys....

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Abert’s Squirrel (Sciurus aberti)
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Number 0051 The Abert’s squirrel lives in the ponderosa pines of the southwestern United States, including my own mountains, the Sandias. These guys are also called tassel-eared squirrels, and they are great friends of the mule deer, who eat the twigs and pine needles that the squirrels discard on the ground. A lovely subspecies of the Abert’s squirrel is called the Kaibab squirrel and...

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Long-Tailed Chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)
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Number 0040 My 7th-grade science teacher, Mrs. Kleinbeck, had a rabbit named Bun-Bun and a chinchilla named Chin-Chin. Mrs. Kleinbeck also had orange nail polish about an eighth of an inch thick—every day, during my class at least, she’d put on a new coat, and as far as I could tell, she never took an old one off. Kids would actually have their books...

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Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)
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Number 0036 This little guy here, unfortunately, is the most threatening vector of hantavirus in the United States. Four Corners hantavirus (or FCV) is a very real danger here in New Mexico where I live, particularly in rural areas. The virus is contracted when humans breathe in dried mouse droppings or urine that have been aerosolized, or released into the air. You’re advised to...

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Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
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Number 0030 Maggie asked for a gray squirrel doing yoga, so here’s a fellow practicing his balasana! And it’s another tree sleeper, sort of a companion piece to the red panda from a couple of weeks ago. (That red panda is my favorite of my drawings so far.) The eastern gray squirrel is an animal I don’t see much now that I’ve moved back...

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Edible Dormouse (Glis glis)
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Number 0025 This poor little guy gets his common name from the ancient Roman delight in eating him. In fact, they kept him in special terracotta jars to fatten him up, making him all the more delicious. The Glis glis is also known as a fat dormouse because of how it pads itself out for hibernation. These dormice—which are around the size of a...

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Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
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Number 0024 My mom also wanted a chipmunk. There are some 25 species of chipmunk, all but one of which live in North America. The most common by far is the Eastern chipmunk. Did you know that most rodents have five toes on their back feet and four on their front? And the chipmunk is no exception. Also, if you want to tell the...

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Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
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Number 0022 Capybaras live in South and Central America. They are my favorite rodent, as well as the world’s largest, weighing 150 pounds or more. They’re about 3–4 feet long and 2 feet high. The colder their climate, the darker and coarser their hair. Capybaras’ feet are webbed and they spend a lot of time in the water. Sometimes they hide there with only...

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Golden Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus)
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Number 0021 Here is a hamster for Joe Hall. It turns out that the hamster species kept as pets is just one of several kinds of hamsters, so tune in for the next 14 years and you’re sure to see some more! This is a golden hamster. My sister and I had one when we were kids. We went to Jerry’s Pets in the...

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Naked Mole-Rat (Heterocephalus glaber)
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Number 0019 Between the echidna and the naked mole-rat, it’s safe to say that we have now probably covered the two strangest species of mammals in the world, and in the first month of mammals! The naked mole-rat lives in the desert of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia. What’s downright amazing about these rodents is that they live more like insects than like mammals. A...

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Groundhog (Marmota monax)
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Number 0015 Happy Father’s Day! In honor of the occasion, here is a groundhog, requested by my father-in-law, Steve. Groundhogs are also called woodchucks, but the tongue-twister “How much ground could a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?” never really took off. Like almost half of the mammals in the world, groundhogs are rodents. (If you wanted to draw only all the...

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Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata)
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Number 0002 Hello, hoary marmot! These guys live in northwestern North America from Alaska down into Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. They’re also known as whistlers, and they hibernate from fall to spring, which I could do, too. This is another of Leigh’s requests from his trip through the west a few years ago. Hoary marmot on Animal Diversity...

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