Dateline – February 14, 2012
Some types of urban wildlife are easier to observe than others. These animals, whether it is because they are more common or because they have more accommodating habits, find their way in front of your camera readily and require relatively little extra effort from the photographer.
Other animals—ones that are nocturnal, transient, or simply uncommon—are much harder to find, much less photograph. As an amateur naturalist, these are the animals that really whet your appetite. These are the ones you really want to locate and document.
My reference materials lead me to believe that many of these rare and unusual animals may be found here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area under the right conditions. I have heard tantalizing rumors about many of these creatures, some more likely true than others. But, they all could be here, and they all could be photographed. All that is required is a little serendipity, and maybe some help from you, my readers.
This is my first of several wish lists. This one enumerates mammals that I would like to observe and photograph in one of the five North Texas counties covered by this web site (Collin, Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, Tarrant).
That is where you come in. If you live in one of these counties, and are aware of a reliable and repeatable observation opportunity for any of the animals in the list below, please let me know. I can be reached via any of the contact facilities provided by this web site: comments, email, Facebook, and Twitter.
Of course, interesting reports of any wildlife observation are always welcome! Never hesitate to contact me with one in your part of town!
Let’s work together and get these animals documented! Here’s my wish list in photographs:
Distribution and expected range of these animals was verified at The Mammals of Texas Online Edition
25 Replies to “My Wish List Part 1: Mammals”
I’ve seen Mountain Lions and bobcats at Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. The bobcats were really small, they seemed barely bigger than the rabbit they were chasing, the mountain lion seem about the size of a medium dog. I saw both upclose. Way closer than I wanted, lol
Iris, I hope you’ll email me the next time you see a Mountain Lion in Arbor Hills… I live right down the road and will come out and investigate! Keep your camera with you! Thanks for the report.
On two separate occasions (June and August 2009) we have seen a mountain lion on the dirt running trails at Arbor Hills; it was definitely a mountain lion, with a longer (not bobbed) tail and approximately 75-90 pounds in weight…
Well, I just noticed that your sightings were dated back to 2009. Coincidently, I did a pretty thorough year long trail camera survey of the area just adjacent to Arbor Hills. Never did turn up a Mountain Lion but did get some interesting picture of almost everything else!
There are currently 3 active mountain lions that patrol the trinity river bottoms near Sam Rayburn and US 77. Now you may have difficulty accessing the area because most of the land that I have seen them on is owned by the Dallas Gun Club. With that said there is one big female and two smaller males. I would check out the area off of La Vista drive and work your way down to Sam Houston trail park.
Could the “mountain lion” have been an adult bobcat, and the bobcat a juvenile or a housecat? Lots of mountain lion reports are in fact based on bobcats quickly seen or in poor light. An adult bobcat would be considerably larger than a rabbit.
But, mountain lions wander far and wide.
I saw lots of what I was told were minks at Bayview marina at Lake Ray Roberts last year. They were running in and out of the rocks by the boat launch.
Sounds like a good tip! I’ll check it out!
Spotted skunk, Elm Bottoms east of Denton off of Highway 360. Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel once was common on public golf courses in Arlington and Denton, but I haven’t been on them in some years. I’d say frequent enough golf courses and you’ll run into this one. Mountain lion — best shot on rough, hilly terrain in SW Dallas County, or in the area W. of Fort Worth along the Clear Fork of the Trinity. Just guessing given habitat. These guys really wander. One showed up in Tulsa a year or so ago.
Same area for Ringtail as for the Mountain Lion. Ringtails like to live about outbuildings, especially old ones with plenty of crevices and crannies. Check parks with gazebos, pavilions and the like. Scorpions and big spiders are favorite prey, so if there are populations of those, better chance.
Check university natural history museums for county records for some of these animals. The record will have a specific location. UNT, Texas A&M College Station, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Austin Natural HIstory Collection are some appropriate ones to check. Some of them are searchable online. Of course, urbanization may have altered things since the specimens were collected, but some of these are pretty tolerant of urbanization. We have a resident Gray Fox in my neighborhood in Edmond, Oklahoma.
If a bear shows up in the DFW area it almost certainly will amble up the Trinity bottoms from East Texas.
Hey David, thanks for the suggestions. It’s fun to think about these things isn’t it? I used to see Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel at Lewisville Lake park and the McGee Farm in Lewisville when I was a kid, but I haven’t seen any since. Decades. I last saw Black-tailed Jackrabbits at Addison airport in the mid 1990s. I stop by there on occasion, hoping to see them, but no luck so far. From what I hear they are still there. I think I may have seen a Mink one night next to our neighborhood creek. It was dark, so visibility was poor. The eyes reflected blue in my headlights, and it looked like a dark animal with a long, snake-like body running away. I’ve got more work to do!
I’m in the process of putting together a similar wish list for amphibians and reptiles. American Alligators will be at the top of that list!
For jack rabbits you might contact ranchers west of Denton on the Grand Prairie. Much of this is mixed and short grass prairie, better habitat for jack rabbits than the “improved pasture” common in other parts of the metroplex.
Alligators have been documented recently at the Fort Worth Nature Center in NW Fort Worth.
Saw what may have been a mountain lion tonight running across Renner Rd. in Richardson. It was only seen for a second as it ran right in front of our vehicle as it crossed the road. At first I thought it was a bobcat, but it was quite large for a bobcat it seemed, and the tail seemed about as long as it’s body. It was moving quite fast but didn’t appear to be more than 3-4 car lengths in front of us as it went by.
A couple of years ago early in the morning I was jogging just before daybreak near the same area and saw a very similar sight except there was enough light to see the coloration of the animal and it also appeared to be a mountain lion. It looked similar in size to the retriever we had at the time which was 80lbs. At first I thought it must have been a bobcat because I believed there were no mountain lions in the area, but it seems it was too big and the tail was long.
I suppose there could be a large bobcat running around with a long tail, but I’m thinking after this most recent sighting that it’s very possible there is a mountain lion in the area.
I have seen mink several times along Muddy Creek in Rowlett, TX. I really enjoy your website. Thank you for sharing!
I have been fishing at a small hole in the Plano/Frisco/McKinney area (kind of on the border of everything) and spotted a Mountain Lion around 7:30pm this evening. He saw me when I parked my car down by the pond and at first I thought it might have been a coyote but knew coyotes were not the size of a large German Shepherd (which is how big it was). He was moving very slow and swift, I started to fish and was very cautious of my surroundings, I kept looking around and about 10 minutes later saw him standing about 50 feet away from me. He had a very long tail and was much larger than a bobcat which led me to believe it was a mountain lion. That said I ran to my truck very quickly and am never going back to that pond unarmed again!
My daughter was jogging on a path at Lake Grapevine about a month ago when she stopped to reply to a text on her phone. She sat down and began to text when she heard a noise and looked up to see what she thought must be a bobcat crossing the path a few feet ahead of her. As she watched it move away, she observed that it was much bigger than a bobcat and it’s tail was longer and full. The cat didn’t see her so she slowly stood up and that’s when she saw another cat that must have been following the first one. It froze and locked eyes with her. She was frightened at this point and quickly turned and raced out of the woods onto a street and ran the rest of the way to her parked car. We haven’t really told anyone about this but as I was looking up more information on the subject of big cats in Texas I came across your web site. If you have any other information please email me. Thanks.
I realize you may not check this thread anymore, but I wanted to comment on a previous comment that I saw a black-tailed jackrabbit at Addison Airport yesterday for the first time (driving by on Midway around 5:30pm) and then today at lunchtime on the other side (Westgrove). Both near the fence, easily visible from the road. So they are definitely still around that area. Never seen them in DFW before — I found this thread because I went looking to see if they’re seen frequently. So cool! Made my day(s).
Thanks, Carrie! I’ve got to get out there and get those rabbits photographed… Addison Airport is actually very close to home for me. Will pay it a visit soon!
Do you know what eats a mountain lion
T-Rex. But, I’m not aware of any sightings reported in north Texas recently.
There was a mink spotted at LLELA this spring when the water was still high, and I believe they have spotted him/her a few times since but not photographed!
I live in Crandall and I have as thinking that it just seemed to be an ideal place for mountain lions to reside or pass through
I saw a fox in North Plano last night. We get lots of bobcats and coyotes .. this was VERY different.
About Cougars. A neighbor spottted one in the North Plano area 2 years ago by our creek. She is from a mountainous area of the West and had seen them as a teen .. she was stunned to see one in Plano. She knows what bobcats look like. This was MUCH bigger, tawny in color, very lean with a very long tail.. At first, she thought it was an escaped lion from a zoo .. took her a few minutes to process what she was seeing.
First I should tell you that I am a nature enthusiast and enjoy tracking, birding, hiking and wildlife in general. I have lived on this property for twelve years and my backyard faces a prairie and also juts up to a heavily tree lined area (cross timbers region, just north of 380 and east of 288 in Denton). I live less than two miles from Elm Fork/clear Creek nature preserve. I have seen several bobcat up close on several different occasions and I am very familiar with their features and habits. I am also aware that some of my neighbors/ranchers, in the past couple of years have caught sight and video of mountain lion.
With that in mind, Today I heard a murder of crows causing such a raucus outside and I was looking out my bedroom window onto the prairie. The crows sounded very agitated so I went outside to see what might be the problem. I thought a hawk might have attacked a crow but there was so much commotion I had to see. The vegetation on the prairie is very high right now; 3 1/2 to 4 feet.
The crows we’re diving into a tree lined area 4 houses down from me.
I was alarmed to witness a mountain lion emerge from that area of trees only houses down from me!
The lion traveled northwest across the prairie toward the treeline on the west side of the prairie. For the entire distance the mountain lion was being attacked by the crows! I could see his back and shoulders and head of course, above the tall vegetation; This cat was big. Visibility was very clear. Today was bright and sunny and the time was approximately 1pm. He was no more than 50-60 feet away from me at any given time. I watched him and as he reached the “safety” of the western tree line,, he paused (crows still flying frantically but a little less aggressive now) and looked straight at me for 10 seconds before he disappeared behind the trees.
I should add that my neighbor, two doors down has also seen a mountain lion (Likely the same one of course) and she concurred that he was very large. At first she thought it was a bobcat (as that is what we are conditioned to expect ,isn’t it?) But. When he turned away from her, emerging from the same treed area (right next door and behind her home) she saw the very long tail swishing from side to side and.she knew immediately that this cat was a mountain lion.
In an effort to hopefully establish a little credibility, I should also add that both my neighbor and I have advanced degrees and we are both self educated nature enthusiasts.
Lastly, I did get some video but it is shaky; I am in the process of examining the video frame by frame.
I would encourage you to come visit.
So bonkers, I was driving home late from my friends apartment and made a wrong turn into downtown Dallas and nearly ran over a ringtail cat!!
Being from out of the area I immediately called my friend thinking I had seen a “zoo animal” as I said to her on the phone (lol)
Anyway, most exciting part of my week by far!