scp-photo

City of Albuquerque Critters

Information about some of the animals that make Albuquerque their home.

Our city is home to many amazing animals! You've probably seen some of these in your backyard. Many of these critters are experts at living in our urban areas, too! Which ones have you seen in our Open Space areas, parks, or backyard? Remember, respect all wildlife, big or small, by observing from a distance.

An illustration of an outline of the state of New Mexico and within it illustrations of animals found in New Mexico: Beaver, Bobcat, Bull Snake, Carp, Coyote, Great Horned Owl, Gunnison's Prairie Dog, Jackrabbit, Lady Bug, Monarch Butterfly, New Mexico Whiptail Lizard, Pallid Bat, Pinacte Beetle, Porcupine, Praying Mantis, Roadrunner, Sandhill Crane, Short-horned Lizard, Silvery Minnow, Ten-lined June Beetle, Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Woodhouse's Toad

Beaver

This is the largest rodent in North America, typically weighing around 45 pounds. A beaver’s teeth continue to grow throughout their lives, and they must gnaw on trees to keep their teeth from getting too long. They also have lips that close behind the teeth giving them the ability to gnaw underwater. This semiaquatic critter can stay underwater for up to 15 minutes.

Bobcat

Did you know bobcats are the smallest lynx? They're the most common wildcat in North America and range anywhere from 8 to 33 pounds. Known for their elusive tendencies, they are rarely seen across their wide range across most of the United States.

Bullsnake

This mostly docile critter is often mistaken for a rattlesnake and has capitalized on the similarities by mimicking the rattlesnake's ‘S-curve’ body posture and rattle sound when threatened. This powerful constrictor is one of the longest snakes in New Mexico, averaging 4’ long but can be found up to 8’. This critter feasts on small mammals such as mice, squirrels, rabbits and even climbs into bird nests to eat nestlings, eggs, or the sitting mother. A bullsnake can eat 5 small birds in just 15 minutes.

Carp

Did you know the carp is actually a type of minnow? This large, omnivorous fish has large scales, a long dorsal fin base, and two pairs of long barbels (whiskers) in its upper jaw. They can live in excess of 27 years and even weight over 75 pounds!

Coyote

These nocturnal critters are very social, living in packs of 3-8 members. Although their fur makes them look larger, coyotes only weigh between 20-40 pounds. Coyotes aren't picky with their habitat because they can adapt so well nearly anywhere. They live mainly in deserts, grasslands, and forests. Coyotes are primarily carnivorous, but will also eat fruits and berries on occasion. They hunt at night for mammals, birds, mice, and snakes. Most of the time they hunt alone, but when they hunt for large prey such as deer, they will hunt in packs.

Great Horned Owl

Easily camouflaged amongst the trees, this critter can be spotted if you listen carefully to the ho-ho-hoo-hoo-hoo call. The owl's keen eyesight & excellent hearing are its best hunting tools. This critter has no trouble feasting on small mammals and birds with its talons exerting a pressure of 500 pounds per square inch! This nocturnal critter can be spotted at dusk following a deep series of 4-5 hoots.

Gunnison's Prairie Dog

This critter communicates through forms of physical contact, such as cuddling and kissing, and through vocalization, such as a warning bark which can be heard from a mile away!

Jackrabbit

Contrary to their name, jackrabbits are hares, not rabbits. Hares are lankier and leaner than rabbits. As with all hares, blacktails rely on speed and camouflage (along with the characteristic "freeze" behavior) for their defense. When flushed from cover, a blacktail can spring 20 feet at a bound and reach top speeds of 30-35 mph over a zigzag course. This critter is found in semi-open, grassy or sagebrush plains and sparsely vegetated deserts. Jackrabbits prefer green vegetation when available, usually following rainy periods. During arid periods, when grass dries up and is eaten less often, jackrabbits eat mesquite and woody vegetation.

Lady Bug

A ladybug can consume 5,000 aphids in their lifetime, making them ideal additions to your garden. Ladybugs can be seen all around town now. Later in summer when we feel the summer heat, ladybugs often escape to the mountains where they can be found in large numbers.

Monarch Butterfly

Did you know most adult monarchs only live for a few weeks? During this time, they search for food in the form of flower nectar, for mates, and for milkweed on which to lay their eggs. The last generation that hatches in late summer delays sexual maturity and undertakes an incredible fall migration. This group can live upward of eight months!

New Mexico Whiptail Lizard

Capable of speeds of 15mph (that's fast enough to outrun some roadrunners), whiptails can escape capture by sacrificing their tails which easily break off allowing the lizard to escape to safety. The whiptail is parthenogenic; they don't need males in order to reproduce. Reproduction instead happens by cloning eggs, and its offspring are genetic duplicates of the mother.

Pallid Bat

The pallid bat, unlike many bats, does not typically chase flying insects. It actually hunts prety on the ground like crickets, beetles, and spiders. They have also been known to hunt lizards, small mice, and even scorpions. They can live up to 15 years in the wild!

Picante Beetle

You've very likely seen this little guy in your yard. Also known as the stinkbug, the Pinacate beetle are the skunks of the insect world. When alarmed, they raise their hind end and emit a foul odor. However, despite being stinky, they are harmless to humans.

Porcupine

One of our most iconic bosque dwellers, this nocturnal animal’s favorite hobbies are eating and sleeping in their food – trees. They are most likely to be found in the bosque in the cottonwoods, but these herbivores are found munching on plants in people’s yards and even the BioPark’s Botanic Gardens. What most commonly comes to mind about porcupines is their up to 30,000 quills, but did you know they also use scent as a defense? The chemical they produce is closely related to the smell of coconut that we use in flavorings and perfumes, but the version porcupines make is said to smell like body odor or stinky cheese. The smell comes from a patch on their lower back and they even have modified quills to help broadcast the smell called osmetrichia.

Praying Mantis

Although this critter dines on both pests and helpful insects it is considered a beneficial insect. The mantis is still as it hunts and quickly grabs its prey. The struggling prey is held with spines on the mantis’ forelegs and tiny teeth in its mouth. The praying mantis then consumes its meal alive. It starts by chewing the victim’s head and continues down the body, after removing and discarding the wings. Mantises primarily eat insects but sometimes eat small lizards. Female mantises will eat males, sometimes while mating. During the fall, females will lay eggs on plant stems or walls which will hatch in the spring.

Roadrunner

Although capable of limited flight, roadrunners spend most of their time on the ground, and can run at speeds up to 20mph. Roadrunners primarily eat insects, lizards, and small snakes - making them a very popular pest control service around ABQ! This iconic critter is also New Mexico's state bird and can be found all year long across the city.

Sandhill Crane

Famous for their mating dance rituals, we most commonly recognize them from their near-constant cacophony of sounds and the bright red patch on their heads. All of that noise comes from the at least 18 different calls that they use to communicate with each other, sometimes even about us! Sandhill cranes are the most abundant of the crane species, and easy to pick out on the landscape due to their 3-4 foot height. As they prefer grains and seeds such corn and sorghum you can most often find them browsing farm fields in the valley and wetlands in the Bosque. It is not unusual to hear them before you see them, so keep your eyes and ears open while looking for these winter visitors!

Short-horned Lizard

This lizard is a "sit-and-wait" predator, typically feeding on ants and occasionally grasshoppers. Although they camouflage quite well, you can find them sitting near nests or trails in the evening when they are most active.

Silvery Minnow

This 2-3” small, silver fish was once the dominant fish in the Rio Grande with an original range of over 3,000 miles. It is now only found in less than 5% of that original habitat range, from Cochiti Dam to Elephant Butte Reservoir. Human changes to the Rio Grande’s water—both in cleanliness and amount—have negatively affected the survival of this key species and they were listed on the federal Endangered Species List in 1994. The Silvery Minnow may seem small and insignificant, but they play an outsize role in the environment they live in. Like other types of minnows, they are a key food source for many other animals and help keep water clean by eating algae, including harmful types of algae. A small animal can make a big impact!

Ten-lined June Beetle

Also called the Watermelon Beetle, this scarab beetle is one of the largest found in New Mexico and is native to western North America. Named for the 10 white lines that run down its back, the Ten-lined June Beetle is not one of the most elegant fliers of the insect world. Generally nocturnal, you’re most likely to see them crash landing into something in the dusk hours, usually completely unharmed. These up to 2” beetles are known for creating a loud hissing or snapping sound when disturbed, but they are all bark and no bite—they’re harmless to humans and can’t bite us. The Ten-lined June Beetle creates the hissing sound by pushing air out from between their wings and body. They are considered a pest species because they do enjoy munching on the roots of some of our favorite crop plants in their larval stages, but not a threat to humans otherwise. Next time you hear a hiss in the dark, it might just be the Ten-lined June Beetle!

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Did you know this snake is a type of pit viper? That means they hunt with the help of a heat sensing pit behind their nostrils. As a generalist, they can be found in a wide variety of habitats from grassy plains to forests. Of course, as a rattler, it has an iconic warning sound using the tip of its black and white banded tail. It can move its rattle back and forth up to 60 times a second!

Woodhouse's Toad

This nocturnal critter grows up to 4 inches long and feasts on insects and small invertebrates. You can hear them at nighttime and might be lucky enough to see them near outdoor lighting, where they know they can find insects attracted to the light. They hibernate for the winter.