What fascinating Wildlife can you find in and around Albuquerque?
If you’re new to Albuquerque or just visiting, you may wonder about the wildlife you may encounter in the city and surrounding areas. Not all wildlife is restricted to areas outside the city, of course. You can find wild animals in parks and open spaces or maybe even wandering through your neighborhood! Here are some of the New Mexico wildlife you may see within the Albuquerque city limits or beyond.
These relatives of dogs and wolves can be found about anywhere, from out in the desert to neighborhoods. They are opportunistic omnivores, almost constantly seeking their next meal. Of course, their howl is a distinctive part of the soundtrack of the Southwest!
Take your (leashed) dog for a walk at one of the city’s parks or through a neighborhood with mature trees, and he’ll likely let you know when squirrels are around. Listen for their chattering calls of warning as you go by. Both grey and fox squirrels can be found in the area.
Jackrabbits and cottontails live in New Mexico. In the Albuquerque area, you are most likely to see black-tailed jackrabbits, as the larger white-tailed jackrabbit lives in the northeast quarter of the state. You can easily recognize a jackrabbit by its large body, long legs, and especially long ears. Jackrabbits are part of the hare family.
There are three species of cottontails in New Mexico, and you can potentially see all of them in the Albuquerque area. Desert cottontails can be found statewide. Eastern cottontails can be seen everywhere except the northwest quarter. Mountain cottontails live in Northern New Mexico as well, but not in the southern part of the state.
These ubiquitous rodents are commonly called “packrats” due to their habit of collecting everything from pebbles to car keys. If you spot a jumbled pile of sticks, cactus pads, pinecones, and other materials, chances are a woodrat family has made a home there. They’ll even drag cow chips or dog feces to their home to mask their scent, while the cactus pieces add thorny protection. Woodrat nests can be helpful for archaeologists as these rodents have been known to collect arrowheads, pottery shards, bones, and other pieces of history.
You may be lucky enough to spot a gray fox in the Albuquerque area. Grab your binoculars and watch what they’re up to . . . hopefully not raiding a hen house!
You may also spot raccoons. These masked bandits will likely be looking for a handout. If you have them in your area, don’t leave pet food outdoors as it may attract them.
Deer are common wildlife in open spaces and may occasionally wander into areas near homes. Other than perhaps grazing on your plants, they don’t usually pose a threat, but it’s best to enjoy watching them from a distance. You are most likely to see mule deer of the Rocky Mountain subspecies in Northern New Mexico.
While porcupines usually prefer to stay in the bosque area near the river, they have been seen inside city limits. Your best action is to enjoy watching them from a distance, keeping your dog away, and waiting for it to move on at night. If the porcupine seems to be sick or injured or someplace where it may be a danger, you can contact the city at 311 or call the Urban Biology Division at 505-452-5300.
These wild cats are most often seen in the open spaces along the foothills, but when seeking food or water, they sometimes come into residential areas. You may even spot one lounging in the sun in your backyard! They weigh up to 35 pounds and while they are shy of humans, they have been known to attack pets. They are much smaller than mountain lions and have spots and short tails.
Since we mentioned mountain lions, it is possible that you may spot one when out hiking, but they are rarely seen in the city limits. Mountain lions are much larger than bobcats, with males weighing as much as 150 pounds and measuring up to 8 feet long to the tip of their long tails.
Yes, black bears are a part of the wildlife in New Mexico! Black bears do sometimes come into the city in search of food if they can’t find enough to eat in the mountains. Report bears in areas where it’s not safe for them to be to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Of course, keep your distance and never come between a mother and her cubs!
Birds are found almost anywhere in their preferred habitats, and more than 300 species of birds have been found in the area. Our state bird, the greater roadrunner, is one you may see out in the desert or racing through a residential area. While he doesn’t sound like TV’s roadrunner, you can listen for his beak chatter or a call that sounds like a sad puppy dog. Learn more about places to look for birds in Albuquerque here.
If you did spot a roadrunner on a mission, you may have seen a lizard or small snake dangling from his beak as he raced back to the nest to feed it to his mate or chicks. Lizards you may see in Albuquerque include the New Mexico spiny lizard or the Western skink. You may even spot a Western diamondback rattlesnake or a great basin gopher snake. Remember, snakes have an important role in our ecosystem, so it’s best to leave them alone to do their job, like eating rodents that can damage your home. If a rattlesnake is in your yard and needs to be removed, contact the city at 311.