List of mammals of Mexico

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is a list of the native wild mammal species recorded in Mexico. As of September 2014, there were 536 mammalian species or subspecies listed. Based on IUCN data, Mexico has 23% more noncetacean mammal species than the U.S. and Canada combined in an area only 10% as large, or a species density over 12 times that of its northern neighbors.[n 1] Mexico's high mammal biodiversity is in part a reflection of the wide array of biomes present over its latitudinal, climatic and altitudinal ranges, from lowland tropical rainforest to temperate desert to montane forest to alpine tundra. The general increase in terrestrial biodiversity moving towards the equator[1] is another important factor in the comparison. Mexico includes much of the Mesoamerican and Madrean pine-oak woodlands biodiversity hotspots. From a biogeographic standpoint, most of Mexico is linked to the rest of North America as part of the Nearctic realm. However, the lowlands of southern Mexico are linked with Central America and South America as part of the Neotropical realm. Extensive mixing of Nearctic and Neotropical mammal species commenced only three million years ago, when the formation of the Isthmus of Panama ended South America's long period of isolation and precipitated the Great American Interchange. Twenty of Mexico's extant nonflying species (opossums, armadillos, anteaters, monkeys and caviomorph rodents) are of South American origin. Most of the megafauna that formerly inhabited the region became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene about 10,000 years ago, shortly after the arrival of the first humans. Increasing alteration and destruction of natural habitats by expanding human populations during the last several centuries is causing further attrition of the region's biodiversity, as exemplified by the "hotspot" designations (by definition, such areas have lost over 70% of their primary vegetation).

The following tags are used to highlight each species' conservation status as assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature; those on the left are used here, those in the second column in some other articles:

EX EX Extinct No reasonable doubt that the last individual has died.
EW EW Extinct in the wild Known only to survive in captivity or as a naturalized population well outside its historic range.
CR CR Critically endangered The species is in imminent danger of extinction in the wild.
EN EN Endangered The species is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
VU VU Vulnerable The species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
NT NT Near threatened The species does not qualify as being at high risk of extinction but is likely to do so in the future.
LC LC Least concern The species is not currently at risk of extinction in the wild.
DD DD Data deficient There is inadequate information to assess the risk of extinction for this species.
NE NE Not evaluated The conservation status of the species has not been studied.

Of the listed taxa, 7 are extinct, 1 (not recognized by the IUCN) is possibly extinct, 30 are critically endangered, 46 are endangered, 26 are vulnerable, and 23 are near threatened.[n 2] These status tags were most recently updated in April 2011. Six of the extinct or possibly extinct taxa and 11 of the critically endangered taxa are insular (all but two of these are rodents); another 13 of the critically endangered species (all rodents or shrews) are montane. The only critically endangered species that are neither rodents nor shrews are the Cozumel Island raccoon and the vaquita. The vaquita population estimate has dropped below 100 as of 2014 and it is regarded as being in imminent danger of extinction.[2][3]

Subclass: Theria[edit]

Infraclass: Metatheria[edit]

Derby's woolly opossum
Common opossum
Gray four-eyed opossum
Grayish mouse opossum

Order: Didelphimorphia (common opossums)[edit]

Didelphimorphia is the order of common opossums of the Western Hemisphere. Opossums probably diverged from the basic South American marsupials in the late Cretaceous or early Paleocene. They are small to medium-sized marsupials, about the size of a large house cat, with a long snout and prehensile tail.

Infraclass: Eutheria[edit]

Order: Sirenia (manatees and dugongs)[edit]

West Indian manatees

Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit rivers, estuaries, coastal marine waters, swamps, and marine wetlands. All four species are endangered. They evolved about 50 million years ago, and their closest living relatives are elephants. Manatees are the only extant afrotherians in the Americas. However, a number proboscid species, some of which survived until the arrival of Paleo-Indians, once inhabited the region. Mammoths, mastodons and gomphotheres all formerly lived in Mexico.[4][5]

Order: Cingulata (armadillos)[edit]

Nine-banded armadillo

Armadillos are small mammals with a bony armored shell. Two of twenty-one extant species are present in Mexico; the remainder are only found in South America, where they originated. Their much larger relatives, the pampatheres and glyptodonts, once lived in North and South America but went extinct following the appearance of humans.

Order: Pilosa (anteaters, sloths and tamanduas)[edit]

Silky anteater
Northern tamandua

The order Pilosa is extant only in the Americas and includes the anteaters, sloths, and tamanduas. Their ancestral home is South America. Numerous ground sloths, some of which reached the size of elephants, were once present in both North and South America, as well as on the Antilles, but all went extinct following the arrival of humans.

Order: Primates[edit]

Mantled howler
Geoffroy's spider monkey

The order Primates includes the lemurs, monkeys, and apes, with the latter category including humans. It is divided into four main groupings: strepsirrhines, tarsiers, monkeys of the New World (parvorder Platyrrhini), and monkeys and apes of the Old World. Mexico's 2 genera of nonhuman primates compares to 6 in Central America, 20 in South America, 15 in Madagascar, 23 in Africa and 19 in Asia. Mexican and Central American monkeys are recent immigrants from South America, where their ancestors arrived after rafting over from Africa roughly 25 million years ago.[6] Southeastern Mexico is the northernmost limit of the distribution of New World monkeys, which are restricted to tropical rainforest habitat.

Order: Rodentia (rodents)[edit]

North American porcupine
Mexican hairy dwarf porcupine
Central American agouti
Lowland paca
North American beaver
Southern flying squirrel
Abert's squirrel
Western gray squirrel
Fox squirrel
Variegated squirrel
Yucatan squirrel
Harris's antelope squirrel
White-tailed antelope squirrel
Black-tailed prairie dog
California ground squirrel
Round-tailed ground squirrel
Rock squirrel
Cliff chipmunk
Texas pocket gopher
Botta's pocket gopher
Ord's kangaroo rat
Bailey's pocket mouse
Spiny pocket mouse
Silky pocket mouse
California vole
Meadow vole
White-throated woodrat
Cactus mouse
White-footed mice
Deer mouse
Pinyon mouse
Marsh rice rat
Yellow-nosed cotton rat

Rodents make up the largest order of mammals, with over 40% of mammalian species. They have two incisors in the upper and lower jaw which grow continually and must be kept short by gnawing. Most rodents are small, although the capybara can weigh up to 45 kg (99 lb). According to the IUCN listing, Mexico has more rodent species (236 as of April 2011) than any other country in the world (Brazil is second with 222). Of Mexico's rodents, 2% are caviomorphs, 14.5% are sciurids, 25.5% are castorimorphs and 58% are cricetids. This distribution is fairly similar to that of the remainder of North America (although sciurids are relatively twice as abundant to the north, at the expense of cricetids), but is very different from that of South America, where the corresponding figures are 36%, 3%, 1% and 60%. Of Mexico's cricetids, 17% are sigmodontine, while the figure for South America is 99.5%.[n 3] Mexico's caviomorphs are recent immigrants from South America, where their ancestors washed ashore after rafting across the Atlantic from Africa about 40–45 million years ago.[6][7] Conversely, South America's sciurids, castorimorphs and cricetids are recent immigrants from Central America (with sigmodontines getting a head start on the others).

Order: Lagomorpha (lagomorphs)[edit]

Volcano rabbit
Brush rabbit
Black-tailed jackrabbit

The lagomorphs comprise two families, Leporidae (hares and rabbits), and Ochotonidae (pikas). Though they can resemble rodents, and were classified as a superfamily in that order until the early 20th century, they have since been considered a separate order. They differ from rodents in a number of physical characteristics, such as having four incisors in the upper jaw rather than two. The endangered volcano rabbit of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt is the world's second smallest rabbit. In North America, pikas are not found south of southern California and northern New Mexico.

Order: Eulipotyphla (shrews, hedgehogs, moles, and solenodons)[edit]

Crawford's gray shrew
Eastern mole

Eulipotyphlans are insectivorous mammals. Shrews and solenodons closely resemble mice, hedgehogs carry spines, while moles are stout-bodied burrowers. In the Americas, moles are not present south of the northernmost tier of Mexican states, where they are rare.

Order: Chiroptera (bats)[edit]

Southwestern myotis
Fringed myotis
Pallid bat
Townsend's big-eared bat
Big brown bat
Eastern red bat
Hoary bat
Evening bat
Western pipistrelle
Greater or lesser sac-winged bat
Greater sac-winged bat
Ghost-faced bat
Parnell's mustached bat
California leaf-nosed bat
Pale spear-nosed bat
Mexican long-tongued bat
Greater long-nosed bat
Lesser long-nosed bat
Jamaican fruit bat
Pygmy fruit-eating bat
Wrinkle-faced bats
Salvin's big-eyed bat
Tent-making bats
Common vampire bat
White-winged vampire bat
Hairy-legged vampire bat

The bats' most distinguishing feature is that their forelimbs are developed as wings, making them the only mammals capable of flight. Bat species account for about 20% of all mammals.

Order: Carnivora (carnivorans)[edit]

Mexican wolf
American black bear
Greater grison
Cozumel raccoon
White-nosed coati
Guadalupe fur seal
Northern elephant seal
Caribbean monk seal

There are over 260 species of carnivorans, the majority of which feed primarily on meat. They have a characteristic skull shape and dentition. Mexico has more native mephitids than any other country, with two thirds of extant species being present. Only Costa Rica and Panama have more procyonid species (one more) than Mexico (it is tied with Colombia in this respect). Large extinct carnivorans that lived in the area prior to the coming of humans include the saber-toothed cat Smilodon fatalis, the scimitar cat Homotherium serum, American lions, American cheetahs, dire wolves and short-faced bears.

Order: Perissodactyla (odd-toed ungulates)[edit]

Baird's tapir

The odd-toed ungulates are browsing and grazing mammals. They are usually large to very large, and have relatively simple stomachs and a large middle toe. Tapirids were more widespread before humans appeared, formerly being present in temperate North America as well as the tropical regions they are found in today. Native equids once lived in the region, having evolved in North America over a period of 50 million years, but died out around the time of the first arrival of humans, along with at least one ungulate of South American origin, the notoungulate Mixotoxodon. Sequencing of collagen from a fossil of one recently extinct notoungulate has indicated that this order was closer to the perissodactyls than any extant mammal order.[10]

Order: Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates and cetaceans)[edit]

Collared peccary
Mule deer
Plains bison
Desert bighorn sheep

The even-toed ungulates are ungulates whose weight is borne about equally by the third and fourth toes, rather than mostly or entirely by the third as in perissodactyls. There are about 220 noncetacean artiodactyl species, including many that are of great economic importance to humans. All of Mexico's extant ungulates are of Nearctic origin. Prior to the arrival of humans, camelids, which evolved in North America, also lived in the region, as did additional antilocaprids (e.g., Capromeryx minor).

Order: Cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises)[edit]

Humpback whale
Gray whale
Sperm whales
Atlantic spotted dolphin
Short-beaked common dolphins
Pacific white-sided dolphins
Northern right whale dolphins
Risso's dolphin
Melon-headed whale
Short-finned pilot whales

The order Cetacea includes whales, dolphins and porpoises. They are the mammals most fully adapted to aquatic life with a spindle-shaped nearly hairless body, protected by a thick layer of blubber, and forelimbs and tail modified to provide propulsion underwater. Their closest extant relatives are the hippos, which are artiodactyls, from which cetaceans descended; cetaceans are thus also artiodactyls. Lagoons on the coast of Baja California Sur provide calving grounds for the eastern Pacific population of gray whales. The vaquita of the northern Gulf of California is the world's smallest and most endangered cetacean.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ As of 2014-05-10, the IUCN lists 491 noncetacean species for Mexico (area 1,972,550 km2) and 398 for the U.S. plus Canada (area 19,811,345 km2).
  2. ^ This list is derived from the IUCN Red List which lists species of mammals and includes those mammals that have recently been classified as extinct (since 1500 AD). The taxonomy and naming of the individual species is based on those used in existing Wikipedia articles as of 21 May 2007 and supplemented by the common names and taxonomy from the IUCN, Smithsonian Institution, or University of Michigan where no Wikipedia article was available.
  3. ^ This is based on the definition of Sigmodontinae that excludes Neotominae and Tylomyinae.


  1. ^ Gaston, Kevin J. (11 May 2000). "Global patterns in biodiversity". Nature. 405 (6783): 220–227. doi:10.1038/35012228. PMID 10821282. S2CID 4337597.
  2. ^ Johnson, Chris (2014-08-03). "Report: Vaquita population declines to less than 100". Vaquita: Last Chance for the Desert Porpoise. earthOcean. Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
  3. ^ Report of the Fifth Meeting of the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (PDF). Ensenada, Baja California: Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (CIRVA). 2014-08-03. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-12. Retrieved 2014-08-12.
  4. ^ Polaco, O. J.; Arroyo-Cabrales, J.; Corona-M., E.; López-Oliva, J. G. (2001). "The American Mastodon Mammut americanum in Mexico" (PDF). In Cavarretta, G.; Gioia, P.; Mussi, M.; et al. (eds.). The World of Elephants – Proceedings of the 1st International Congress, Rome October 16–20, 2001. Rome: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. pp. 237–242. ISBN 978-88-8080-025-5.
  5. ^ Graham, R. W. (2001). "Late Quaternary Biogeography and Extinction of Proboscideans in North America" (PDF). In Cavarretta, G.; Gioia, P.; Mussi, M.; et al. (eds.). The World of Elephants (La Terra degli Elefanti) - Proceedings of the 1st International Congress (Atti del 1° Congresso Internazionale), Rome October 16–20, 2001. Rome: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. pp. 707–709. ISBN 978-88-8080-025-5.
  6. ^ a b Poux, C.; Chevret, P.; Huchon, D.; De Jong, W. W.; Douzery, E. J. P. (2006). "Arrival and Diversification of Caviomorph Rodents and Platyrrhine Primates in South America" (PDF). Systematic Biology. 55 (2): 228–244. doi:10.1080/10635150500481390. PMID 16551580. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  7. ^ Mangels, J. (2011-10-15). "Case Western Reserve University expert uses fossil teeth to recast history of rodent". Cleveland Live, Inc. Retrieved 2011-10-25.
  8. ^ Trillmich, F. & IUCN SSC Pinniped Specialist Group (2008). "Arctocephalus galapagoensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
  9. ^ Tenorio, A. R.; Verplancken, F. R. E.; Reynoso, J. P. G.; Márquez, L. A. Á.; Acuña, I. D. B. (2 October 2023). "Records of Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) in the southern Mexican Pacific". Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals. 18 (2). doi:10.5597/lajam00311. ISSN 2236-1057.
  10. ^ Welker, F.; Collins, M. J.; Thomas, J. A.; Wadsley, M.; Brace, S.; Cappellini, E.; Turvey, S. T.; Reguero, M.; Gelfo, J. N.; Kramarz, A.; Burger, J.; Thomas-Oates, J.; Ashford, D. A.; Ashton, P. D.; Rowsell, K.; Porter, D. M.; Kessler, B.; Fischer, R.; Baessmann, C.; Kaspar, S.; Olsen, J. V.; Kiley, P.; Elliott, J. A.; Kelstrup, C. D.; Mullin, V.; Hofreiter, M.; Willerslev, E.; Hublin, J.-J.; Orlando, L.; Barnes, I.; MacPhee, R. D. E. (2015-03-18). "Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin's South American ungulates". Nature. 522 (7554): 81–84. Bibcode:2015Natur.522...81W. doi:10.1038/nature14249. hdl:11336/14769. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 25799987. S2CID 4467386.
  11. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Boselaphus tragocamelus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T2893A115064758. Accessed on 18 April 2023.
  12. ^ Good, Caroline (2008). Spatial Ecology of the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) (PhD thesis). Duke University. pp. 35, 47–48. hdl:10161/588.