Payson and Rim Country Animal Species
The elk (Cervus canadensis) is one of the larget species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North American and Northeast Asia. Elk are a common sight in Rim Country and can occasionally be seen strolling the streets of Payson and its neighborhoods.
Male elk grow horns starting in late March until mid-August when mating season or "the rut" begins in the forested areas around Payson. During this time males become aggresive in competition for the female cow elk. The bulls bugling can often be heard ringing through rim country until late October when the rut ends and elk life in rim country returns to normal.
The cliff chipmunk (Neotamias dorsalis) is a small, bushy tailed squirrel that typically lives along cliff walls or boulder fields bordering Pinyon-juniper woodlands in the Western United States and Mexico.
They are commonly spotted in areas surrounding payson. Cliff chipmunks are very agile, and can often be seen scaling steep cliff walls. Cliff chipmunks do not amass body fat as the more common ground squirrel does. They create a "stash" of food which they frequent during the cold winter months. The chipmunks are brown on their underside and gray n the back with white stripes on their face.
Coues (Whitetail) Deer
The Coues white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus couesi) is one of the smallest deer in America. Common in the Rim Country forests surrounding Pine, Strawberry, Payson, and Christopher Creek, Coues deer stand around 28-32 inches tall at the shoulder and measure about 56 inches (1426 mm) from head to tail. Coues deer varies in color from a grayish coat in winter to a more reddish-brown color in the summer. Fawns are born with numerous white spots on their coat that generally disappear after about 2 months.
The mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) is a deer indigenous to western North America; it is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule.
Also prevalent in the Ponderosa pine forests surrounding Rim Country forests surrounding Pine, Strawberry, Payson, and Christopher Creek, the most noticeable differences between white-tailed and mule deer are the size of their ears, the color of their tails, and the configuration of their antlers. In many cases, body size is also a key difference. The mule deer's tail is black tipped, whereas the whitetail's is not.
The collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) is a species of mammal in the family Tayassuidae found in North, Central, and South America. They are commonly referred to as javelina in Rim Country.
Although somewhat related to the pigs and frequently referred to as one, this species and the other peccaries are no longer classified in the pig family. They are sometimes spotted in the forests around Payson.
The striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) is a skunk of the genus Mephitis that occurs across most of North America, including southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. It is currently listed as least concern by the IUCN on account of its wide range and ability to adapt to human-modified environments.
Striped skunks are polygamous omnivores with few natural predators, save for birds of prey. Like all skunks, they possess highly developed, musk-filled scent glands to ward off predators.
The raccoon sometimes spelled racoon, also known as the common raccoon, North American raccoon, northern raccoon, or coon, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America. Racoons are nocturnal and generally come out at night in the areas surrounding Payson.
Three of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws, its facial mask, and its ringed tail, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for at least three years
The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a small North American wildcat. Containing two recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to central Mexico, including most of the contiguous United States.
The bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits wooded areas, as well as semidesert, urban edge, forest edge, and swampland environments.
Abert's squirrel or the tassel-eared squirrel (Sciurus aberti) is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus native to the southern Rocky Mountains from the United States to the northern Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico, with concentrations found in Arizona, the Grand Canyon, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.
It is closely associated with, and largely confined to, cool dry ponderosa pine forests making Rim Country and Payson and ideal habitat. It is recognizable by its tufted ears, gray color, pale underparts and rufous patch on the lower back. The squirrel feeds on the seeds and cones of the Mexican pinyon and the ponderosa pine when they are available, but will also take fungi, buds, bark, and carrion.
Rock squirrels are one of the largest members of the family Sciuridae, with adults measuring up to 21 inches (53 cm) in length. Another common Payson and Rim Country squirrel, it is distinguish by the squirrel's coat is a speckled grayish brown in front and on top; on the rear and bottom the gray becomes a more mottled brownish-black tone.
They have a marked light-colored ring around their eyes and pointed ears that project well above their heads. Rock squirrels have a long bushy tail with white edges.
Arizona Gray Squirrel
The Arizona gray squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis) is a tree squirrel, in the genus Sciurus, endemic to the canyons and valleys surrounded by deciduous and mixed forests in eastern Arizona and northern Mexico. This squirrel finds habitat among the almost 3,000,000 acres of National Forest that surround Payson.
The only other large squirrel that is within its range is Abert's squirrel, which has ear tufts and lives in pine forests. Although they act and look like other gray squirrels, the Arizona gray squirrel is actually more closely related to the fox squirrel.
Mountain Conttontail Rabbit
Another Payson and Rim Country resident is the mountain cottontail is a small rabbit but its size is relatively large for the genus. Hind legs are long; the feet are densely covered with long hair. Ears are relatively short and rounded at the tips; the inner surfaces are noticeably haired. It has pale brown fur on the back, a distinct pale brown nape on the back of the head, black-tipped ears, a white grey tail, and a white underside.
The brown nape on the back of the head is a smaller size from than that of the Snowshoe Hare, helping to distinguish the two separate species from each other.
The black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), also known as the American desert hare, is a common hare of the western United States and Mexico, where it is found at elevations from sea level up to 10,000 ft (3,000 m). Jackrabbits are more commonly found in the mixed shrub-grasslands of Tonto Basin south of Payson.
Reaching a length around 2 ft (61 cm), and a weight from 3 to 6 lb (1.4 to 2.7 kg), the black-tailed jackrabbit is the one of the largest North American hares.
The coyote (Canis latrans) is a canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf.
Coyotes are a hearty species, versatile, and able to adapt.
The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), or grey fox, is an omnivorous mammal of the family Canidae, widespread throughout North America and Central America. Though it was once the most common fox in the eastern United States, and still is found there, human advancement and deforestation allowed the red fox to become more dominant.
The Pacific States still have the gray fox as a dominant, and the fox still finds habitat in Arizona among the Ponderosa Pine forests surrounding Payson, Pine-Strawberry, and Christopher Creek. It is the only American canid that can climb trees. Its specific epithet cinereoargenteus means "ashen silver".
Coatis, also known as coatimundis are members of the family (Procyonidae) in the genera Nasua and Nasuella. They are diurnal mammals native to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. All coatis share a slender head with an elongated, flexible, slightly upward-turned nose, small ears, dark feet, and a long, non-prehensile tail used for balance and signaling.
Although sightings of these unusual creatures around Payson and Rim Country are rare, they do occur.
Porcupine, (Erethizon dorsatum), also known as the Canadian porcupine or common porcupine, is a large rodent in the New World porcupine family.
The beaver is the only rodent in North America that is larger than the North American porcupine. Porcupines can be found in the Ponderosa Pine Forests surrounding Payson, Arizona.
The American black bear (Urses americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. It is the only bear species still found in Arizona. They roam in territories of five to fifty square miles.
Frequent sightings occur in the Arizona White Mountains region, along the Mogollon Rim areas of Payson and even close to Phoenix in the Four Peaks area. They are shy, curious and very intelligent. The black bear's diet primarily consists of berries, cactus fruit, roots, insects and sometimes livestock. Generally black bears will hibernate from November through March.
The cougar (Puma concolor) is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae. It is native to the Americas.
Its range spans from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes in South America and is the widest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although daytime sightings do occur.
The cougar is more closely related to small felines, including the domestic cat, than to any specias of subfamily Pantherinae, of which only the jaguar is extant in the Americas.
Payson Arizona Bird Species