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Natural History
Naming the Mammals
What is a Species?
Where Do Species Come From? Where Do They Go?
How Species Enrich The World
Functional Relationships Among Species in Western Oregon
The Squirrel
The Fungus
Squirrel-forest Relations
The fungal connection
The truffle connection
The squirrel connection
The pellet connection
Scope of the Book

Opossums, Didelphiidae
Opossums, Didelphis
Opossum, Didelphis virginianus

Shrews, Soricidae
Long-tailed Shrews, Sorex
Wandering shrew, Sorex vagrans
Dusky and Yaquina shrews, Sorex obscurus and Sorex yaquinae
Pacific shrew, Sorex pacificus
Marsh shrew, Sorex bendirei
Northern water shrew, Sorex palustris
Trowbridge shrew, Sorex trowbridgei
Moles, Talpidae
American Shrew-mole, Neürotrichus
American shrew-mole, Neürotrichus gibbsi
Western American Moles, Scapanus
Townsend mole, Scapanus townsendi
Coast mole, Scapanus orarius
Broad-handed mole, Scapanus latimanus

Evening Bats, Vespertilionidae
Mouse-eared Bats, Myotis
Little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus
Yuma bat, Myotis yumanensis
Long-eared bat, Myotis evotis
Fringed bat, Myotis thysanodes
Long-legged bat, Myotis volans
California bat, Myotis californicus
Silver-haired Bat, Lasionycteris
Silver-haired bat, Lasionycteris noctivagans
Big brown bats, Eptesicus
Big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus
Hairy-tailed bats, Lasiurus
Hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus
Big-eared bats, Plecotus
Western big-eared bat, Plecotus townsendi
Pallid bat, Antrozous
Pallid bat, Antrozous pallidus
Free-tailed Bats, Mastiff Bats, Molossidae
Free-tailed bats, Tadarida
Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis

Pikas or Rock Rabbits, Ochotonidae
Pika, Ochotona
Pika, Ochotona princeps
Hares and Rabbits, Leporidae
Hares, Lepus
Snowshoe hare, Lepus americanus
Black-tailed jackrabbit, Lepus californicus
Rabbits, Sylvilagus
Brush rabbit, Sylvilagus bachmani
Eastern cottontail, Sylvilagus foridanus

Mountain Beaver, Aplodontidae
Mountain beaver, Aplodontia
Mountain beaver, Aplodontia rufa
Chipmunks and Squirrels, Sciuridae
Chipmunks, Tamias
Townsend chipmunk, Tamias townsendi
Yellow-pine chipmunk, Tamias amoenus
Ground squirrels, Spermophilus
Beechey ground squirrel, Spermophilus beecheyi
Belding ground squirrel, Spermophilus beldingi
Mantled ground squirrel, Spermophilus lateralis
Marmots, Marmota
Yellow-bellied marmot, Marmota flaviventris
Tree squirrels, Sciurus
Western gray squirrel, Sciurus griseus
Eastern gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis
Eastern fox squirrel, Sciurus niger
Red squirrels and chickarees, Tamiasciurus
Chickaree, Tamiasciurus douglasi
Flying squirrels, Glaucomys
Northern flying squirrel, Glaucomys sabrinus
Pocket Mice and Kangaroo Rats, Heteromyidae
Kangaroo rats, Dipodomys
Heermann kangaroo rat, Dipodomys heermanni
Pocket Gophers, Geomyidae
Western pocket gophers, Thomomys
Camas pocket gopher, Thomomys bulbivorus
Mazama pocket gopher, Thomomys mazama
Botta pocket gopher, Thomomys bottae
True Beavers, Castoridae
True beaver, Castor
North American beaver, Castor canadensis
New World Mice and Rats, Cricetidae
Harvest mice, Reithrodontomys
Western harvest mouse, Reithrodontomys megalotis
Deer mice and white-footed mice, Peromyscus
Deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus
Piñon mouse, Peromyscus truei
Woodrats, Neotoma
Dusky-footed woodrat, Neotoma fuscipes
Bushy-tailed woodrat, Neotoma cinerea
Voles, Arvicolidae
Red-backed voles, Clethrionomys
California red-backed vole, Clethrionomys californicus
Heather voles, Phenacomys
Heather vole, Phenacomys intermedius
White-footed vole and tree voles, Arborimus
White-footed vole, Arborimus albipes
Oregon red tree vole, Arborimus longicaudus
Meadow voles, Microtus
Townsend vole, Microtus townsendi
Long-tailed vole, Microtus longicaudus
Creeping or Oregon vole, Microtus oregoni
Gray-tailed vole, Microtus canicaudus
Montane vole, Microtus montanus
California vole, Microtus californicus
Water vole, Microtus richardsoni
Muskrats, Ondatra
Muskrat, Ondatra zibethicus
Old World Rats and Mice, Muridae
Old World rats, Rattus
Black rat, Rattus rattus
Norway rat, Rattus norvegicus
House mice, Mus
House mouse, Mus musculus
Birch Mice and Jumping Mice, Zapodidae
North American jumping mice, Zapus
Pacific jumping mouse, Zapus trinotatus
New World Porcupines, Erethizontidae
North American porcupine, Erethizon
North American porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum
Coypus, Myocastoridae
Coypus, Myocastor
Coypus or Nutria, Myocastor coypus

Dogs and foxes, Canidae
Dogs, coyotes, wolves, Canis
Coyote, Canis latrans
Red foxes, Vulpes
Red fox, Vulpes vulpes
Gray foxes, Urocyon
Gray fox, Urocyon cinereoargenteus
Bears, Ursidae
North American black bear, Euarctos
North American black bear, Euarctos americanus
Ringtails, Raccoons, and Allies, Procyonidae
Ringtail, Bassariscus
Ringtail, Bassariscus astutus
Raccoons, Procyon
Raccoon, Procyon lotor
Martens, Weasels, Skunks, Otters, and Allies, Mustelidae
Martens and fishers, Martes
North American marten, Martes americana
Fisher or Pekan, Martes pennanti
Wolverine, Gulo
Wolverine, Gulo gulo
Weasels, minks, and allies, Mustela
Short-tailed weasel, Mustela erminea
Long-tailed weasel, Mustela frenata
Mink, Mustela vison
Spotted skunks, Spilogale
Spotted skunk, Spilogale putorius
Striped and hooded skunks, Mephitis
Striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis
River otters, Lutra
River otter, Lutra canadensis
Cats, Lynxes, and Allies, Felidae
True cats, Felis
Puma or mountain lion, Felis concolor
Lynxes, bobcats, and caracals, Lynx
Bobcat, Lynx rufus

North American Elk, Deer, and Allies, Cervidae
North American elk and allies, Cervus
North American elk, Cervus elaphus
Mule deer and white-tailed deer, Odocoileus
Mule deer, Odocoileus hemionus
White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus






INDEX (Return to Top of Page)


"Maser's book describes the land mammals of Oregon that live from the High Cascades [Cascade Mountains] westward, but it also applies to those same species living in similar parts of California, Washington, and British Columbia. … Nowhere else, to this reviewer's knowledge, can one find so much natural history information about so many mammals of the Pacific Northwest, and it is their natural history that makes the mammals functional parts of their ecosystems. The importance of habitat and its connectivity is strongly supported, and rightly so. This work will probably find most use as a supplement to a field guide, or to a more technical book...."

A. S. Mossman, emeritus
Humboldt State University
Arcata, California,
July/August 1999 issue of Choice

"Mammals of the Pacific Northwest is as much a personal journey as it is a natural history of mammals of the region. Most vertebrate ecologists of Maser's generation grew up as kids fascinated by the animals around them; they crawled through bushes, waded in marshes, and caught everything that came within reach. Few have remained naturalists because science, even vertebrate science, has rapidly moved in the direction of rigorous hypothesis testing, experimental design, and high powered statistical analysis. There seems to be little place for naturalists in this new climate, and that is our loss.

Pacific shrew

"Few people, scientists or otherwise, have had as extensive and intensive studies and personal interactions with as many mammalian species as Maser. For that reason alone, the book is a treasure trove of fact, observation, and supposition, from the diets of bats to observations of personality differences among individual shrews. In this book, Maser presents a lifetime of observations from a distance to up-close and personal. As Maser himself says in the introduction: 'I have now spent over thirty years in a consummate love affair with science—mostly studying mammals in the wild.... I have over many years learned to know them.' Indeed he has.

"Mammals of the Pacific Northwest is not a field guide, and it doesn't pretend to be one, although most of the information found in field guides is present in this book as well. It is a taxonomically arranged natural history of these animals, interspersed with some delightfully poignant and occasionally hilarious remembrances of particular individual mammals or events, and as such is remarkably readable. Because it is written from the naturalist's perspective, this is the book that the serious student of mammals should read before going out in the field to observe, trap, or study mammals. To borrow from current vernacular, this book helps one to 'get inside' an animal's head, an ability often lacking in current generations that haven't had the luxury of many years of patient first-hand observation.

"Maser's objective was to reach a general audience, and to share his life-long love affair with Pacific Northwest mammals both by presenting his vast storehouse of life history knowledge and by telling interesting (if not endearing) stories of individual animals he has known. I think he has succeeded. Readers will get an enhanced view of what otherwise would be a series of entries in a field guide; I believe this was Maser's intent. As a professional ecologist, this would be the first source I would want to read if I wanted to learn more about a mammal I planned to study."

Bruce E. Coblentz
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR
Northwest Science 73:140-141 (1999)

"While legislators were busy in Olympia [Washington] trying to dismantle I-655, the citizens' initiative that prevents bear baiting and sport hunting of cougar with hounds, I cast my lot with the animals and curled up with 'Mammals of the Pacific Northwest.' This engaging new compendium, the result of 25 years of fieldwork by Corvallis research scientist Chris Maser, covers the natural histories of scores of creatures in our region.

Gray-tailed meadow mouse

"This is not some dry field guide. Maser is not only a scientist but a first-rate raconteur, and he combines good, solid scientific data regarding any given animal's biological development, diet, habitat, and so on, with intriguing firsthand observations on behavior. After a lifetime of doing whatever it takes to study his subjects—whether climbing trees, hunkering down in the bushes, or crawling along on all fours—Maser has collected a passel of interesting experiences.

"Some of the scenarios even have included his own unwitting participation: There was the time he and his raccoon companion committed a faux pas at his mother's bridge party, for example, or the time he crashed a deer 'kegger.' And then there was the unforgettable evening when he slept—inadvertently—with a skunk.

"The text is sprinkled generously with black and white photos, [from] which ... you will learn more than you ever could have imagined about the characteristics of various animal droppings...."

Barbara Lloyd McMichael
Tacoma [Washington] News Tribune
February 28, 1999

"On an elk-hunting trip up Hells Canyon years ago, the weather was far too warm to drive elk from the distant rim.

"We'd been dropped for a week by a jet boat, essentially trapping us with nothing to do nearly 3,000 feet below the elk herds.

"So desperate were we for distraction that we seized the opportunity for challenge the night a mouse munched Skeeter's candy bar.

"The late 'Skeeter' Dykstra was a longtime hunting partner with diabetes, which ultimately took his life. Candy bars were a night-time snack to stabilize his condition.

"When we were awakened by the loud 'thwack' of a stick that Skeeter swung at the mouse (and missed), it was the start of a memorable contest to see who could trap the most rodents around camp in the name of saving Skeeter's midnight rations.

"Years later, as I became more environmentally conscious, it occurred to me we'd interrupted the order of life in and around that small clearing on the banks of the Snake River.

"How much, though, became clear only recently when I read a new and valuable reference book: 'Mammals of the Pacific Northwest, From the Coast to the High Cascades,' by Chris Maser....

"Maser's compelling, well-written and easily understood scientific tome details behaviors and life patterns of animals found in four separate Western Oregon zones.

"True, the 60-year-old naturalist doesn't discuss the mice we trapped in the canyon more than two decades ago. But his description of Western Oregon mammals suggest natural cycles we might have inadvertently altered.

"Mice, of course, are important prey, especially at the outset of winter, for raptors trying to keep from starving and young carnivorous mammals learning to hunt.

"But their burrows also affect surrounding vegetation, and their feces carry and spread seeds.

"I'd have been laughed out of camp at the time, but perhaps it would have been better for Skeeter to simply store his snacks in a nibble-proof container and leave the industrious mice alone.

"Maser punctuates his book with anecdotes from decades of close study of the animals he writes about. They are exhilarating escapes from the scientific explanations.

"In the end, Maser contends in a conveniently brief and effective lecture that humans must do more to recognize the connectivity of the natural world.

"'The decision about the quality of habitat in Western Oregon belongs to us, of course, the adults of the world,' he concludes. 'But the consequences of our decisions we irrevocably bequeath to those generations we call 'the future.'"

Bill Monroe
The Oregonian
December, 31, 1998

"When reading through the species accounts in the book, it is apparent that Maser has spent years making careful observations of many of these animals. He is a research scientist in ecology and natural history, and his writing reveals an obvious connection to his subject. Although the book is not filled with rigorous scientific fact, with his many personal observations he gives the reader real insight into the lives of the animals. It is evident that nature had an early impact on Maser and probably inspired his life's work at a young age.

"The book is quite readable and informative, and is not merely a description of the natural history and biology of the animals it represents, but an insight into Chris Maser's years as a scientist and naturalist.... If you are someone who likes to curl up in a chair with a good book, then buy Maser's book."

Alison Keple
Marine Mammal Research Unit
Department of Zoology
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Discovery, Summer 2000

While a graduate student, I helped with a study of snowshoe hares.

"The classic Peterson field guides Mammals and Animal Tracks are excellent references and cover all of North America. But for a much more intimate look into most of our mammals, try Mammals of the Pacific Northwest by Oregon biologist Chris Maser. ...there are in-depth accounts ... from bats to bobcats. Not a hollow, glossy coffee table book, this has extensive details of how these critters live, eat, procreate and die, making it an excellent reference for amateur naturalists and anyone who loves wild mammals. Amusing anecdotes (like drunken deer or 'Mighty Shrew') help lighten the tone."

Bryan Nichols
WaveLength Paddling Magazine

"If you live in the Pacific Northwest and want to identify the wild mammals you see, this book is very helpful. However, there is a lot more to the book than just good descriptions of mammals. Stories about each creature bring to life the animals you may never encounter. Chris Maser is clearly fond of his subjects and tries hard to help the reader get a feel for their lives. It is fun to just open this book at random and read a few pages about vole or bat you never knew existed. I have several mammal identification books. This is the best one."

on Amazon

"As do many books with subjects attempting to cover the entire 'Pacific Northwest,' this book focuses primarily on a certain area of the PNW. In this book's case, it's Oregon (no offense at all to this wonderful state). The photos are all small, black-and-white, and obscure. There are MANY photos of feces in this book. While it's helpful to know feces identification, it's more important to identify mammals by species identification. Perhaps I'm lucky, because I get to see more actual animals in the wild, rather than only their droppings. Some mammals in the book are not even pictured at all. Some of my friends have never even seen a nutria (coypus) or a marten in the wild, so pictures of them (and other animals) would have been helpful and more aesthetically pleasing to them. I've seen wolves in eastern Washington and a brown stage black bear in western Washington which the book does not address. On the other hand, the bat and shrew sections were extensive and thorough. Overall, the book is interesting and is scientifically well-organized. Included is ample, specific information on habitat, behavior, and breeding."

on Amazon 2002

"Tremendous amount of information on the mammals in the Pacific Northwest. A lot more than in most guides."

Ruth M.
on Amazon 2020

"This remarkable book offers an intimate look at the life histories and habitats of mammals in the Pacific Northwest. In introducing the region's mammals, Chris Maser combines current scientific knowledge with personal accounts and anecdotes drawn from over a quarter century of fieldwork in Oregon. For each species of mammal, the book provides a physical description and detailed information on distribution, habitat, and behavior, and it is illustrated with over 100 photographs of mammals and their tracks, dens, nests, and young."

King County Lake Stewardship Program
Department of Natural Resources and Parks
Water and Land Resources Division
Seattle, WA

Mantled ground squirrel

"I wish this book had more photos of the animals, because it is otherwise really fine. Don't let the amount of text put you off, there is interesting and readable information here for the amateur naturalist. Food, footprints, droppings, nests. Hard to say no to this one."

Oregon Library Association

"This is a great source of information about habits and habitats of many of the mammals found in the Pacific Northwest. Very readable style, with up-to-date information. Chris Maser is a biologist who has written many Forest Service reports on northwest fauna, so is a very credible source and draws much on his own field experience in this book."

Mark D. Jordahl
Conservation Education

"My students have raved about your books (Mammals of the Pacific Northwest) and how much they have helped them to connect and understand complex science principles. They relate to the relevant applications you provide that are things happening right around them. It has helped them understand the importance and complexity involved in respecting and protecting the living systems that support and sustain the planet."

Cindy Haws,
Assistant Professor of Science
Umpqua Community College,
Roseburg, OR

"If you're in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Maser's book, Mammals of the Pacific Northwest gives excellent info on the mammals of the region (several pages on each), including regionally-specific habits, food preferences, good sign-tracking info, interesting personal stories, etc...."

Jason Knight
Tracking & Mammals Moderator
Wilderness Awareness School

"I have examined several books on the natural history of mammals but found this the most informative and readable. The book focuses on western Oregon but would still be a useful reference in anywhere in our region. Maser devotes several pages to each species, covering feeding habits, reproduction, life cycle, and other details. The treatment of small mammals, which many books gloss over, is particularly strong. I would not call this a tracking book, but Maser does include photos of tracks and other sign. To me this is much more than a reference book as I found it very fascinating reading. This is a must for your library."

"I've had this book for years but picked it up again today to read about moles and got caught up reading about other creatures.

"This is a truly wonderful reference book for western Oregon mammals. The author intersperses scientific information with personal stories about his experiences with each animal he describes. He is from the Corvallis area so the many of these stories take place within 50 miles of where I live. I go back to the book as reference over and over. I think it is out of print, but it is well worth tracking down if you live in West of the Cascades in Oregon or Washington."

Karl Anderson

"This is a truly wonderful reference book for western Oregon mammals. The author intersperses scientific information with personal stories about his experiences with each animal he describes. He is from the Corvallis area so many of these stories take place within 50 miles of where I live. I go back to the book as reference over and over. I think it is out of print, but it is well worth tracking down if you live West of the Cascades in Oregon or Washington."

Nancy—recommended to me by Karl Anderson

"This remarkable book offers an intimate look at the life histories and habitats of mammals in the Pacific Northwest, from the coast to the high Cascades. In introducing the region's mammals, Chris Maser combines current scientific knowledge with personal accounts and anecdotes drawn from over a quarter century of fieldwork in Oregon. The book covers the natural history of eighty-nine mammals in Oregon, seventy in Washington, sixty-seven in British Columbia, and eighty-three in Northern California. For each species of mammal, the book provides a physical description and detailed information on distribution, habitat, and behavior. A keen observer of animal life, Maser relates his own encounters in the wild—from a rare, firsthand description of how shrews hunt and kill their prey to a tour of a mountain beaver's burrow—to help readers better understand the animals he has come to know. Maser delves into the secrets of how mammals live and explores the dynamic relationships between the mammals of the Pacific Northwest and their habitats.

"Intended for general readers and students, Mammals of the Pacific Northwest provides a fascinating natural history of the region's wildlife. The book is illustrated with over one hundred photographs of mammals and their tracks, dens, nests, and young."

Description from Canadian Edition
Univeristy of British Columbia Press
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Purchase Information:

This book is available on Amazon.