There are numerous animals that start with M worldwide. But, how many do you know that can be found in North America? Some species are highly adaptable to harsh winter climates and one will migrate for 1,000s of miles. Read on to learn more about 20 interesting North American animals starting with M and where you can find them.
20 animals that start with m
Animals starting with M come with various notable abilities, from staying underwater for 17 minutes to using mimicry to defend themselves. Read on to learn more facts!
1. Mountain beaver
Scientific name: Aplodontia rufa
Mountain beavers are more closely related to squirrels than they are to North American beavers. They got their name because they cut off tree limbs and gnaw on bark, similar to true beavers.
You can find them in various mountain ranges in western North America, including the Cascade Mountains, Olympic Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada.
2. Mexican free-tailed bat
Scientific name: Tadarida brasiliensis
Despite their name, the Mexican free-tailed bat aren’t only in Mexico. In fact, they are the most common bat species found in Texas. They live in large colonies that can reach millions of individuals, when roosting in caves, tunnels, or under bridges.
These bats are also the smallest free-tailed bats, growing around 3.5 to 4.25 inches long.
Scientific name: Alces alces
Moose are large mammals with impressive antlers that they regenerate every year. They are the largest deer species and the tallest North American mammal, growing about 6-feet tall.
You can find them in forested areas near the Arctic tundra in Canada and northern U.S.
4. Mule deer
Scientific name: Odocoileus hemionus
Mule deers get ther name from their large ears that look similar to mules. They are tannish-brown in the summer and brownish-gray in the winter with a white tail and black tip.
You can find them in western North America from Alaska down to southern Baja California, Mexico. They live in rocky, arid environments, including desert areas with enough vegetation to hide in and eat.
5. Mountain goat
Scientific name: Oreamnos americanus
Mountain goats are native to northwestern North America mountain regions, including southeastern Alaska, Washington, and Idaho. They have sharp horns and are adapted to life on mountains with their cloven hooves that help with balance. Mountain goats can also jump almost 12 feet in a single bound.
6. Mountain bluebird
Scientific name: Sialia currucoides
Mountain bluebirds are songbirds, with males having distinctive bright blue feathers and females more brownish or pale orange. Although they are the official state bird of Nevada and Idaho, you can find them in Mexico, western Canada, and throughout the U.S., including as far north as Alaska.
They don’t only live in the mountains either. They also thrive in deserts, open grassland, farmlands, and lowland prairies.
Scientific name: Ovibos moschatus
The muskox, or musk oxen, is a large horned mammal, growing up to 5 feet tall and 900 pounds. In North America, you can find them in the Arctic tundra habitats of Canada and Alaska.
They have various adaptations helping them survive the Arctic cold, including a double coat of fur and hoofed feet to dig into icy ground for food.
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
The male mallard duck is a recognizable duck species, with a green head and yellow bill. These large ducks can weigh up to 3 pounds and live in freshwater habitats, especially shallow lakes and wetlands.
They live year-round in the U.S., but also breed in Alaska and Canada and have wintering sites in southern U.S. states and northern Mexico.
9. Monarch butterfly
Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
Monarch butterflies are a popular species easily identified by their orange wings with black veins and white spots. They can be found throughout North America, including overwintering groups in Arizona, California, Florida, and Mexico.
These long-distance migrating butterflies can travel over 250 miles each day for a total of 1,000s of miles.
10. Milk snake
Scientific name: Lampropeltis triangulum
Milk snakes are colorful, nonvenomous snakes in the kingsnake family with blotchy or striped patterns. They are known for using mimicry as a defense mechanism, making themselves look like more dangerous snake species.
You can find them in forests throughout the U.S. and in southeastern Canada.
11. Mexican alligator lizard
Scientific name: Abronia graminea
Mexican alligator lizards are typically a vibrant green with a yellow circle around their eyes. They live in the trees of Mexico’s cloud forests and spend most of their day on tropical plants, especially bromeliads with cup-like leaves that capture water for them to drink.
Scientific name: Ondatra zibethicus
Muskrats are beaver-like semi-aquatic rodents that are well-adapted to freshwater wetlands, including swamps, marshes, and lakes. They impressively can stay underwater for up to 17 minutes at a time.
They live throughout most of Canada and the U.S, including the Gulf Coast and around the Mexican border.
13. Mountain cottontail
Scientific name: Sylvilagus nuttallii
Mountain cottontails are solitary rabbits with large tails and long hind legs. You can find them from the Rocky Mountains west to the Sierra Nevada and from north of the Canadian border to northern New Mexico and Arizona.
These rabbits can survive in habitats with elevations up to 6,000 feet.
14. Mexican violetear
Scientific name: Colibri thalassinus
Mexican violetears are medium-sized, bright green hummingbirds with violet breast and cheek patches. They also make a jerky chipping song.
These hummingbirds are native to forested areas ranging from Mexico to Nicaragua. However, some sightings are recorded of them being in Texas and as far north as southern Canada.
15. Mohave desert tortoise
Scientific name: Gopherus agassizii
The Mojave Desert tortoise have domed shells that they can retract their head and legs into completely. These desert-dwelling tortoises spend most of their day hanging out under rock or shrub outcroppings or in underground burrows.
You can find them west and north of the Colorado River in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. The desert tortoise is an endangered species and the overall population is believed to have declined by as much as 90% since 1980.
16. Melon-headed whale
Scientific name: Peponocephala electra
Melon-headed whales live in deep sub-tropical or tropical waters throughout the world. When you see them near the shore, it’s mostly around oceanic islands like Hawaii.
This toothed whale species has a slim body with a rounded, melon-shaped head and can grow up to 10 feet long.
17. Mountain lion
Scientific name: Felis Concolor
Despite their name, mountain lions aren’t known for roaring. Instead, they growl, scream, hiss, and even meow or purr like house cats. These strong predators are also fast runners, reaching top speeds of 50 miles per hour.
They can be found throughout the Americas in habitats ranging from mountainous areas to swamps. In the U.S., they are mainly in western states and Florida.
Scientific name: Esox masquinongy
The Muskellunge, or muskie for short, is a long fish with a flat head, light-colored body, and dark bars on their sides. As the largest member of the pike family, these fish are typically 30 to 46 inches long.
However, some can reach up to 6 feet long. They are native to eastern North America’s upper Mississippi drainage and Great Lakes region.
19. Mackenzie wolf
Scientific name: Canis lupus occidentalis
The Mackenzie wolf can be blackish, gray, tan, or blueish in coloring, depending on the environment they need to hide in. They have thick coats that help them survive the harsh winters of Canada, Alaska, and other northwestern U.S. states where they live.
These large and territorial wolves also hunt big animals such as bison and elk.
20. Mississippi kite
Scientific name: Ictinia mississippiensis
Mississippi kites are birds of prey with excellent eyesight and the ability to catch fast-moving prey, such as snakes, lizards, and other birds. They also make an unusual high-pitched, whistling call that sometimes sounds like a squeaky toy.
You can find these predatory birds throughout central and southeastern U.S. states and as far north as New England.