New Mexico's Pet Resource SUMMER 2003


How much do you know about animals? Test your knowledge with these questions. Answers at bottom.

1. Rattlesnakes are found in 46 of the 50 states. In which four states are rattlesnakes not found?


2. What is the state mammal of New Mexico: coyote , black bear, jackalope, gray wolf, mountain lion?



1. Hawaii – the expanse of the Pacific Ocean has prevented the natural immigration of most mainland species to Hawaii; Alaska and Maine – the climate in these two states (when it gets cold, it gets very cold!) places them beyond the normal range of rattlesnakes, and Delaware – a small lowland coastal state has no known rattlesnake sightings… so far.


2. The state mammal of New Mexico is the Oso Negro or Black Bear. The scientific name is Ursus americanus amblyceps, and in New Mexico these bears may be of black, brown or cinnamon color. The black bear was selected on February 8, 1963, by the State Legislature because of the fame of a particular New Mexico black bear named Smokey. Smokey was a cub in May of 1950 when he was rescued, badly burned, from a forest fire in Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, NM. Smokey quickly became the personification of the US Forest Service’s fire prevention program. Everyone knows Smokey’s mantra; “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” Smokey Bear became so popular and received so much mail that, in 1964, he was given his own private zip code! Most people know the hat Smokey wears, known to the military as a campaign hat, as a “Smokey Bear hat”. In many parts of the US State or local Police uniforms include this headgear, and as such, Troopers are sometimes referred to as “Smokeys”. The one and only Smokey died in 1976, and is buried at Smokey Bear State Park in Capitan, New Mexico. Bears are very smart. DON’T feed them or try to attract them in any way. They learn quickly and easily become dependent on human handouts. A fed bear is eventually a dead bear. If you picked the jackalope as New Mexico’s state mammal, you need to spend some quality time at your local library.

The Straight Dope, Cecil Adams, 1984; New Mexico State Legislature handbook, 2003

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