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Mammal Checklists of the United States

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge

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Ruby Valley, Nevada


A Refuge for Nesting and Migrating Waterfowl and Other Wildlife

Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938. It encompasses 37,632 acres at the south end of Ruby Valley. This land was once covered by a 200 foot deep, 300,800 acre lake known as Franklin Lake. Today 12,000 acres of marsh remain on the refuge. Just north of the refuge, a 15,000 acre seasonal wetland is now referred to as Franklin Lake.

The Habitat

The refuge, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, consists of an extensive bulrush marsh interspersed with pockets of open water. Fish are abundant. Islands scattered throughout provide good nesting habitat for many bird species.

Over 200 springs flow into the marsh along its west border creating riparian habitat which is used by many songbirds, snipe, rail and small mammals. They also provide a water source for larger mammals. With slight increases in elevation, wet meadows gradate into grasslands and sagebrush-rabbitbrush habitat.

Pinon Pines and juniper cover the slopes of the Ruby Mountains that rise to 11,000 feet along the west side of the refuge. Canyons provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. Rock cliffs provide raptors with nesting and perching sites. A mountainside of dead trees, home for cavity dwelling birds, was the result of a 1979 fire.

Viewing Wildlife

Viewing wildlife is best done during morning and evening hours. Binoculars or a spotting scope greatly assist in identifying wildlife and observing their behavior. Best wildlife viewing from a car can be done by taking the Bressman Cabin Loop passing Unit 10, the North and East Sumps, and Unit 13 and/or by taking the Brown Dike-Short Dike Loop around Unit 21. For a unique opportunity to see the marsh wildlife up-close, the South Sump is open during part of the year for canoeing and electric motors.


The following list of mammals includes those found on the refuge and adjacent lands. Species that are suspected of occurring in the area (?) and those that have been identified prior to 1940 with no recent observation (h) are also included. All are considered resident species except the bats that migrate. Visibility of mammals varies seasonally due to some species hibernating and others moving between summer and winter ranges. Small mammals may remain active throughout winter but out of view in tunnels under the snow. The common names and order follow "A Field Guide to the Mammals of America North of Mexico" by Burt and Grossenheider (1976).

a - abundant: likely to be seen in large numbers
c - common: usually seen in proper habitat
u - uncommon: seen regularly in small numbers
o - occasional: irregular occurrence
r - rare: rarely seen
? - mammal species speculated to exist in area
h - mammal species historically reported (prior to 1940)

The following symbols are used to indicate in which habitats each wildlife species would most likely be found. It is important to remember that use of an area depends on the season and an animal's activity.

1 - Marsh
2 - Riparian
3 - Flowing Water/Collection Ditch
4 - Wet Meadows
5 - Grasslands
6 - Sagebrush/Rabbitbrush
7 - Pinon/Juniper
8 - Canyons
9 - Rocky Areas/Cliffs
10 - Caves
11 - Buildings
12 - Widespread

SHREWS Habitat Abundance ___ Merriam's Shrew 6 ? ___ Vagrant Shrew 4 u
BATS Habitat Abundance ___ Little Brown Myotis 11 ? ___ Long-eared Myotis 10,11 c ___ Small-footed Myotis 10 c ___ Silver-haired Bat 7,11 r ___ Big Brown Bat 10 ? ___ Mexican Freetail Bat 10 r
WEASELS AND RELATIVES Habitat Abundance ___ Short-tailed Weasel 2,4 r ___ Long-tailed Weasel 2 u ___ Mink 1,2 u ___ Badger 12 c ___ Spotted Skunk 7,8 u ___ Striped Skunk 12 ?
CANIDS Habitat Abundance ___ Coyote 12 c
CATS Habitat Abundance ___ Mountain Lion 8 u ___ Bobcat 8 u
SQUIRRELS Habitat Abundance ___ Yellow-bellied Marmot 9,8 u ___ Townsend's Ground Squirrel 6 ? ___ Richardson's Ground Squirrel 4 ? ___ Belding's Ground Squirrel 5,6 c ___ Golden-mantled Squirrel 9 u ___ Least Chipmunk 6 c ___ Uinta Chipmunk 7,9 r
POCKET GOPHERS Habitat Abundance ___ Pygmy Pocket Gopher 2,5 c ___ Northern Pocket Gopher 9 c
POCKET MICE AND KANGAROO RATS Habitat Abundance ___ Great Basin Pocket Mouse 6 c ___ Dark Kangaroo Mouse 6 u ___ Ord's Kangaroo Rat 6 c ___ Great Basin Kangaroo Rat 6 c
BEAVERS Habitat Abundance ___ Beaver 8 c
NEW WORLD RATS AND MICE Habitat Abundance ___ Western Harvest Mouse 6,5 u ___ Canyon Mouse 8,9 h ___ Deer Mouse 12 c ___ Pinon Mouse 7,9 h ___ Northern Grasshopper Mouse 6 ? ___ Bushy-tailed Woodrat 9,10 u ___ Mountain Vole 4 c ___ Long-tailed Vole 2,8 u ___ Sagebrush Vole 6 ? ___ Muskrat 1 c
OLD WORLD RATS AND MICE Habitat Abundance ___ House Mouse 11 c
NEW WORLD PORCUPINES Habitat Abundance ___ Porcupine 2,4 c
HARES AND RABBITS Habitat Abundance ___ White-tailed Jackrabbit 6 r ___ Black-tailed Jackrabbit 6 c ___ Mountain Cottontail 6,2 c ___ Pygmy Rabbit 6 u
DEER Habitat Abundance ___ Mule Deer 12 c
PRONGHORN Habitat Abundance ___ Pronghorn 6,5 u

Important wildlife observations have been contributed throughout the years by you - the refuge visitor. Please continue to share your observations with us at refuge headquarters in order that we may all increase our understanding of our environment.

A special thank you to L. Ports and M. Ports from Northern Nevada Community College and M. Green from Nevada Department of Wildlife for their help in preparing this list. For further information contact:

                       Refuge Manager
                       Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge
                       HC 60, Box 860
                       Ruby Valley, Nevada 89833
                       Telephone: 702/779-2237

No person shall, on the basis of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, physical or mental restrictions, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination in any program or activity of the Department of the Interior.
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