Game Animals in Arizona
is detailed information on the small game animals
of Arizona, click on the names for more information.
Three species of cottontail occur in Arizona: the mountain
cottontail, eastern cottontail, and desert cottontail. The smallest of these
(22-30 ounces) is the relatively short-eared mountain cottontail, which is largely
restricted to elevations above 7,500 feet from the Mogollon Rim northward. The
generally larger eastern cottontail (28-52 ounces) is found in the mountains
of southeastern and central Arizona where it occupies many of the same habitats
as the Coues white-tailed deer. The most abundant and important rabbit by far,
however, is the desert cottontail (26.5-44 ounces), which is found in every county
in the state up to elevations exceeding 7,000 feet.
No fewer than four species and eight subspecies of tree squirrels
can be found in Arizona’s forests. Of these, the Abert’s or tassel-eared
squirrel is the most widespread and contributes most to the annual squirrel harvest.
This squirrel, with its easily discernable ear tufts, along with its close relatives,
the black-bellied and white-tailed Kaibab squirrels, are exclusively inhabitants
of ponderosa pine forests and the life cycles of the squirrels and the tree are
remarkably intertwined. Less well known is the also white-bellied Arizona gray
squirrel and its close relative, the rustcolored Chiricahua fox squirrel, both
of which inhabit riparian deciduous forests and oak woodlands south of the Mogollon
Rim. Another species is the chicaree or red squirrel (actually more olive or
gray than red in Arizona), which is restricted to the higher forests of spruce
and fir above 8,500 feet elevation. Both the tassel-eared and gray squirrels
average a little under 1.5 pounds in weight, while the diminutive red squirrel
averages just over 0.5 pounds.