The Mammals

The notion of mammal :

Mammals are a class of vertebrate animals whose main characteristic is that female representatives breastfeed their juveniles from a specialized cutaneous-glandular secretion called milk..
From the point of view of evolution and systemic ecology, the first mammals had a rather terrestrial way of life. This taxon has greatly diversified over its evolutionary history, to the point that one of its main orders (bats) has acquired flight. A certain number of lines evolved towards a partial aquatic way of life (seals, polar bear, beaver, hippopotamus, otter, amphibian vole, platypus ...) or total (cetaceans, sirenians ...), while retaining of their ancestor tetrapod the pulmonary respiration. Likewise, echolocation is very present in certain orders (bats, cetaceans) while it is rare in the rest of the animal kingdom.

The Alpine ibex. :

The Alpine ibex owes its survival to the protection it enjoyed very early in Italy. In 1922, the royal hunting reserve of Gran Paradiso became an Italian national park. When the Parc de la Vanoise was created in 1963, there were only around sixty ibexes left in the massif. Today there are more than 2,500 of them, thanks to reintroduction actions, and to a few individuals from the Parc du Grand Paradis, which adjoins the Parc de la Vanoise. The Ibex has become the emblem of the Vanoise National Park. It is found in other regions of the Alps, Chartreuses, Queyras...
Since a ministerial decree of 1981 the ibex has been a protected species throughout the French national territory.

The Alpine marmot :

The marmot has become the emblematic animal of the Alps. This small exclusively herbivorous rodent, of the family of Sciuridae whistles to warn of the danger, its main predator remains the Eagle, as well as the Fox.
The very sociable Alpine marmot lives in small colonies of family origin. A family group includes 5 to 12 individuals: a breeding couple accompanied by their descendants from the last 2 or 3 years. The marmot digs long, highly branched galleries in which it can hibernate; she sleeps all winter in this burrow filled with hay, which she closes the entrance in September-October, she will stay there until Spring.

The Red Squirrel :

With its plumed tail, its graceful silhouette and its agility, the Red Squirrel is a very nice little animal. Strictly forest and arboreal, the Red Squirrel is the largest rodent in this type of environment. It is the only native squirrel present in France.
His physical activity in any season, even in winter is very impressive: he literally runs on the branches in trees over 30 meters high, descending or climbing the branches jumping from one tree to another with agility and disconcerting ease. In winter, the Red Squirrel simply slows down its activity. It does not hibernate, and the extreme cold can be fatal.
The Eurasian Squirrel preferentially consumes the seeds contained in cones of conifers, which it hulls effectively by tearing off each scale. It also consumes nuts, hazelnuts, bees, chestnuts, but also, in periods of lower abundance, buds, tree flowers, seeds of early or even green trees (elms, ash, maple, lime trees , charm, etc.).

The coypu :

The Coypu also called " Marsh beaver " is a mammal native to South America.
It was introduced to Europe for breeding its fur. Due to livestock escapes, or voluntary release, he invaded many areas of France, in particular the Poitevin Marsh and the Camargue. It digs very deep burrows (6 to 7 meters) in the banks, thus participating in the destabilization of these. Coypu is recognizable by its orange red incisors.
In France it is considered harmful, due to the damage it causes to the banks and crops, but also by the destruction of nests of water birds.

The Red Fox :

The Red Fox, also called Common Fox, Red Fox or, Goupil, is a species of medium-sized Canidae. It is the most common fox in Eurasia, North America, North Africa and Australia. It is a red-skinned mammal with white under the belly and throat, pointed muzzle, straight ears and bushy tail. The Red Fox has an elongated body with relatively short limbs in relation to its size. Her tail, which is longer than half her body, is long, fluffy and touches the ground when standing. It ends with a small tuft of white hairs. It serves the animal to balance and keeps it warm when it sleeps and envelops it. The general appearance of the male and the female differs little, and it is not easy to distinguish them. The female is slightly smaller and lighter. Its frame is also thinner. The fur of the Red Fox is dense, soft, silky and relatively long, especially in winter. It allows it to withstand very cold temperatures, down to -13 ° C.
The Red Fox is omnivorous. It consumes an average of 600 kcal daily, ie 300 to 600 g of food, and feeds mainly on rodents of rabbits and birds, but also insects, fish or fruit.
The Red Fox, unlike many canids that hunt in packs, goes in search of food alone. It hunts early in the morning, before the sun rises, and late at night. In winter, it also hunts during the day when the rodents are active. When hunting small rodents, it uses a very special technique called mulotage. He first spotted his prey at the sound and approached it slowly, without making the least noise. Once the prey is well identified and within reach, it is placed in position, with forelegs stretched and legs bent and ears directed towards the prey, then jump into the air to fall on its prey, which can be located up to 5 m from him. This one is then killed on the blow of a bite at the nape of the neck. Only one jump out of five is successful. For his other prey, he uses the hunting technique. Thus when hunting the rabbit it approaches slowly, stopping its advance when the prey stops its activity or looks in its direction, before launching the pursuit race as soon as it is close enough. The victim is killed by a bite at the nape of the neck and is dismembered before being consumed. The fox can also use trickery, to reach its prey. He pretends to be dead, to catch a raven for example. In spring it is easy to capture ground-nesting females as ducks or partridges.
The Red Fox breeds, according to the region, from December to February, for a birth on the beautiful days (gestation of about 50 days). This is done in the shelter of a burrow, whereas the rest of the year, the fox lives almost exclusively in the open air. The young are first fed by the milk of their mother, then, little by little, the couple of parents brings them meat. They begin to leave the burrow at the end of four weeks, are weaned at nine weeks, and after spending the summer with their parents, they disperse in the autumn.
The Red Fox have a fairly wide range of vocalizations, and produce sounds in five octaves. The Red fox is a digitigrade, that is to say it moves on the fingers. It leaves a characteristic imprint on the ground, where the fingers appear more distant from the heel than on the imprint of a dog.
The Red Fox is an animal considered cunning, and is often represented in tales, as in the fables of Aesop, which the fabulist Jean de La Fontaine resumes later, or in the Asian legends, where he appears as malicious and endowed Of magical powers.
It is hunted for its fur, for pleasure, for its depredations on small livestock and also because the fox is one of the vectors of rabies and alveolar echinococcosis, but an anti-rabies vaccination campaign has Rapidly eradicated Western European rabies.

The Wild Boar :

The wild boar is an omnivorous, forest mammal, close to the pig. The species belongs to the family Suidae. The female is called the "sow" small are "boars", young are sometimes called "beast redheads" and adult males "loners." This species is able to develop strategies to adapt to hunting pressure, which sometimes gives it a invasiveness.
Regularly, boar wallows in the mud in places called "soiled" and rubs insistently against the trunks of nearby trees to get rid of a number of parasites, regulate body temperature and mark his territory. He sleeps in small depressions in the ground, dry, well hidden, called "bauges".
The social structure of wild-boar is matriarchal, boars herd consist of one or more sows followed by their offspring. Wild boars from 2 to 4 years old close when moving, but are replaced by older males during the rut. From 4 to 5 years the males leave the groups to become solitary. The processions are often noisy, not only by the heavy noise of the steps, but also by the grunts, shouts, breaths and other sniffles. However, boars know how to be discreet and silent if they feel threatened.
The boar is particularly fond of wooded areas with water points. The activity of the wild boar is mostly nocturnal.

All animals leave a lot of traces if you know how to read them. There is so much history to follow.

Stéphanie LEDOUX, traveling painter (on France Infos)