Carnivores

Carnivores vary greatly in size and appearance.  The name is somewhat misleading, however, for while many carnivores live mainly on fresh killed prey, others are omnivorous eating a great deal of vegetation.  All have three pairs of relatively small incisors on the upper and lower jaws, and large strong canines.  Most have one annual litter with offspring born blind and requiring a relaively extended period of parental care.  Carnivores generally live on land, but some spend part of nearly all of their time in water. 

Wolves, Dogs, Foxes, and Jackals - Family Canidae

Coyote Canis latrans. Found statewide, including urban areas. Common in all habitats. Usually breeds February-March. Gestation about 60 days; litter size about six. Diet extremely varied and includes rodents, rabbits, birds, eggs, many kinds of fruits, domestic poultry, livestock, and watermelons. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Red Wolf Canis rufus. Extirpated. Once inhabited a variety of habitats statewide. Roamed in small groups and fed on small to mid-sized wild mammals. Also, often fed on small domestic animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, and sometimes calves. Reported on verge of extinction in Alabama in 1921. Last stronghold was rough, hilly region from Walker County northwestward to Colbert County. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes. Common statewide in forested uplands interspersed with pastures and farmland. Breeding occurs January-February; gestation about 50 days; litter size four to five. Mice and rabbits are important components of diet, but birds, eggs, plant material, and insects also consumed. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus. Common in forested habitats statewide. Breeding peaks in February-March; gestation 50-60 days; litter size three to five. Diet includes many plant and animal species, including rodents, birds, eggs, and carrion. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Bears - Family Ursidae

Black Bear Ursus americanus. Rare. Once found statewide, but now extirpated from all except an area just north of Mobile, where they still breed. Transients from Georgia and Florida also occasionally enter the state. Occupies woodland and swampland habitats. Mating occurs May-July with two to three young born in January-February after a seven-month gestation. A variety of plant and animal materials, including some agricultural crops, consumed depending upon availability. HIGHEST CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Eared Seals, Fur Seals, and Sea Lions - Family Otariidae

California Sea Lion Zalophus californianus. Accidental. Known from a single observation at Sand Point Light, Mobile Bay, prior to 1984.

Raccoons, Ringtails, and Coatis - Family Procyonidae

Raccoon Procyon lotor. Common in all habitats statewide, including urban areas. Often associated with water, especially bottomland swamps, marshes, and flooded woodlands. This opportunistic omnivore consumes an unusually wide range of plant and animal foods. Breeding occurs December-June with a peak February-March; gestation about 65 days; litter size two to five. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Ringtail Bassariscus astutus. Accidental. Known only from two animals collected in Chambers and Montgomery Counties that may have been released from captivity. No evidence of a breeding population in Alabama or adjacent states. Occupies a variety of habitats throughout distribution, which extends from California across Louisiana and from southwestern Oregon to southern Mexico. Principal foods are arthropods, small mammals, and fruits, but diet varies with availability and location. Breeds February-May, but most occurs March-April. Following about a 50-day gestation, one to four young are born.

Weasels, Badgers, and Otters - Family Mustelidae

Long-tailed Weasel Mustela frenata. Poorly known. Probably found statewide, but little known about current status. Lives in woodlands, forest edges, fencerows, agricultural, and urban areas. Small mammals form important part of diet, along with other vertebrates and invertebrates. Mating occurs July-August, there is delayed implantation, and five to eight young are born mid-spring. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Mink Mustela vison. Poorly known. This semiaquatic species occurs statewide, usually near permanent water. Status of populations unknown. Breeding occurs February-April; gestation about 30 days; and average litter size of four. Diet consists primarily of rodents, but also includes a variety of other vertebrates and invertebrates. Low Conservation Concern.

River Otter Lontra canadensis. Poorly known. Probably present statewide in association with rivers, creeks, and lakes, especially open water bordered with wooded habitat. Current status of populations unknown. In late winter or early spring, copulation usually occurs in water, there is delayed implantation, and a litter of one to six young is born in 290-380 days. Low Conservation Concern.

Skunks - Family Mephitidae

Striped Skunk Mephitis mephitis. Found statewide, especially in open areas, forest edges, and urban habitats. Although usually common, abundance varies significantly within Alabama; some regions having high populations and others having few, or no, individuals present. Most breeding occurs February-April. Low Conservation Concern.

Eastern Spotted Skunk Spilogale putorius. Found in a variety of habitats such as pastures, woodlands, forest edges, and farmlands. Although statewide in distribution, little known about this species in Alabama. Breeding occurs March-April, and there may be a second litter in late summer. HIGH CONSERVATION CONCERN.

Cats - Family Felidae

Puma Puma concolor. Extirpated. Probably was statewide in distribution in all habitats, especially remote upland woodlands, rough terrain, and bottomland swamps. Although sightings are still commonly reported in Alabama, these are likely misidentifications of domestic dogs and cats, coyotes, and bobcats. Some puma sightings have been traced back to escapees from captivity. The only known self-sustaining wild population closest geographically to Alabama is the Florida panther (P. c. coryi ), which is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bobcat Lynx rufus. Common statewide in a wide array of habitats including dense understory, bottomland hardwood forests, swamps, and farmlands. Breeding peaks December-April, but young may be born anytime during the year. Diet includes many kinds of vertebrates and invertebrates. Lowest Conservation Concern.

Jaguarundi Herpailurus yagouaroundi. Accidental. Rare sightings reported from southwestern and central Alabama, but there is no evidence of a breeding population in Alabama or adjacent states. Listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

References Cited:

Mirarchi. Ralph E., ed. 2004. Alabama Wildlife, Volume One.  A Checklist of Vertebrates and Selected Invertebrates: Aquatic Mollusks, Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals.  The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL. 209 pp.

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