The Most Used Mammal Book on my Shelf
I’m a bit of a junkie for good field guides and people often ask about my favorites. I love my Peterson Guide to Mammals of North America and I also love Mammal Tracks and Sign by Mark Elbroch. However, there is one book I own that has become my absolute favorite guide of all time.
Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Conservation is my starting place whenever I want to learn something about a mammal. It isn’t small, and it isn’t cheap, but it is the most in-depth mammal guide I own. At 1216 pages, it certainly isn’t a book you should carry into the field with you.
This book is the real deal. It summarizes thousands of scientific articles into a single master source of information. Top experts wrote chapters on the animals they know best. The resulting level of detail is amazing. For example, it dedicates 37 pages to muskrats alone, 7 of which are citations. This means that if you want to do some research on muskrats, you already have 7 pages of citations to begin looking through.
Want to learn about bobcats? There are 28 pages of information about their morphology, taxonomy, distribution, feeding habits, reproduction, ecology, diseases, behavior, home range sizes, habitat preferences, wildlife survey techniques, research and management techniques, and on and on it goes.
The main shortcoming I’ve experienced with this book is that some species are grouped together into a single chapter. It’s understandable why this was necessary, but it’d be nice to have each species treated separately.
In summary, if you’re a junkie for info about wildlife and you don’t mind some scientific jargon here and there, I highly recommend adding this book to your shelf. This is the kind of book field guide authors use to get their information and if I’m going to research a mammal, this is where I start.