41. South Dakota: Least weasel
The least weasel is the smallest of all weasels, averaging 157-190 mm (6.2-7.5 in.) in total length and weighing 40-56 g (1.4-2.0 oz.). It has a long body and neck with short limbs, a short tail, and a narrow, flattened head. In the summer, least weasels are brown on the back and whitish with occasional brown flecks underneath. In winter, they are entirely white in northern latitudes, where snow is common, but remain brown in southern latitudes. The least weasel resembles other weasel species, but it is smaller and has a proportionately shorter tail than the ermine and the long-tailed weasel. Its tail is less than 25% of the length of its head and body and lacks the black tip characteristic of ermines and long-tailed weasels. The pelage of least weasels will fluoresce under UV light, while that of ermines and long-tailed weasels will not.
Least weasels are specialized small mammal predators, eating primarily mice and voles. When small rodents become scarce, bird eggs and nestlings, moles, shrews, young rabbits, squirrels, rats, lizards, salamanders, frogs, fish, and insects may be taken. Least weasels are active during the day and night, patrolling a regular ʜᴜɴᴛing route. They move rapidly searching every hole, tunnel, or burrow they can in search of mice. Their senses of sight, hearing, and smell are sharp and each contributes to finding prey. Typically, an individual will need to eat 40%-60% of its body weight each day in order to survive. Least weasels are preyed upon by most predators larger than themselves including hawks, owls, other weasels, foxes, cats, and snakes.
42. Tennessee: Cave salamander
Cave salamanders are among the largest of their genus. During adulthood their dorsal pigmentation ranges from bright reddish-orange to a bland yellow. Their ventral coloring is a light yellow and does not contain spots. Younger adults are typically more dull in color.
The maximum recorded length of an adult is 181 mm. Cave salamanders have broad, flattened heads. Their large eyes measure roughly the same size as their snout length. Snout lengths for females measure to 62 mm on average while males have snouts that measure 60 mm on average. Both s.ᴇ xes have prehensile tails that constitute 52 to 68% of their total length. Cave salamanders have four slender legs, two long forelimbs, and two short hind limbs. Their front legs have four toes and their back legs have five toes that are webbed.
S.ᴇ xes are distinguished by a number of physical features. Vents on mature males have large margins contoured with papillae. Mature males are also distinguishable by their longer tail compared to those of females. Male mental glands are also more rounded in comparison to females.
43. Texas: Jaguarundi
The jaguarundi is unique in its appearance among the felids in that it more closely resembles a weasel. They have slender, elongated bodies, short legs, a small flattened head, long “otter-like” tail, and a sleek, unmarked coat. Adults can weigh as little as 6 pounds or as much as 20. They stand 10-14 inches at the shoulder, and reach a length of 35-55 inches. Coats occur in 3 main color variations: black, brownish-grey, or red. Any or all colors can occur in a single litter, but generally the darker colors are usually found in the rain forest, while the paler color is found in the drier environments. The red color was once considered a separate species.
44. Utah: Gila monster
The Gila monster is one of only two species of ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍous lizard, both belonging to the family Helodermatidae, that are similar in appearance and habitat. Most of the Gila monster’s teeth have two grooves which conduct the ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ from the lower jaw. The toxin is not injected like snake ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ but instead flows into the wound as the lizard chews its victim. The ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs the nervous system and causes paralysis of the respiratory muscles. The effectiveness of the ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ varies in humans but it is rarely fatal. The poison may be used more for defence than ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ.
The colorful, beadlike skin of the gila monster helps with camouflage. Its claws are used for digging burrows and for digging out other animals’ eggs. Its tongue helps it to ʜᴜɴᴛ and to receive information about its surroundings by picking up the scents in the air. They also can store fat in their tails. This is very important to the survival of the Gila monster during times in which food supply is diminished, during hibernation and during pregnancy.
45. Vermont: Marten
The marten Martes americana, a small predator, is a member of the weasel family, Mustelidae. It is similar in size to a small cat but has shorter legs, a more slender body, a bushy tail, and a pointed face. The fur varies from pale yellowish buff to dark blackish brown. During winter, the marten has a beautiful dark brown fur coat and a bright orange throat patch. The summer coat is lighter in colour and not nearly as thick. Males are the larger s.ᴇ x and weigh about 1 000 g, whereas females weigh about 650 g.
The Mustelidae family also includes several other more familiar animals such as the ermine, skunk, and mink. It is thought that martens entered North America from Asia about 60 000 years ago. There are several species of martens worldwide and perhaps the most famous is the Russian sable, which is well known for its luxurious fur.
46. Virginia: ᴀssᴀssɪɴ bug
An ᴀssᴀssɪɴ bug is a predatory insect that feeds on other bugs. It also feeds on reptiles, birds, and other animals, including mammals like humans. There are currently 7000 species across the globe.
This bug will measure about an inch or an inch and a half. It’s usually black or brownish. It might have an oval or slightly elongated body. It has antennas that divide into 4 segments and a three-piece segmented tubular mouthpart or proboscis that folds in a space behind the bug’s throat.
The bug can sting when it comes in contact with another animal or retract its body like a spring to ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ another animal that might be even a foot away. It releases ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ into the eyes and nose of the prey to cause strong ɪʀʀɪᴛᴀᴛion. When it ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋs humans, this ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ can cause temporary ʙʟɪɴᴅness.
47. Washington: Geoduck
Geoduck is pronounced goo-ee-duck. Other names for this majestic mollusk: mud duck, king clam and (translated from Chinese) elephant-trunk clam. When fully mature, Puget Sound geoducks weigh, on average, a bit over two pounds. Their shells are between six and eight inches long, and their siphons (the “necks” that protrude from their shells) can be over three feet long! The largest geoduck ever weighed and verified by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was a whopping 8.16 pounds.
48. West Virginia: Puss caterpillar
Puss caterpillars, Megalopyge opercularis, are also called asp caterpillars because of their potent stings. They are called puss caterpillars because their thick, fluffy setae resemble the fur of a pussycat. Adults are called flannel moths because of their fluffy, wavy, flannel-like scales. The moths evidently lay their eggs in batches because young larvae sometimes feed in groups on the surface of the leaf. Older larvae devour entire leaves. The caterpillars finally spin a dense cocoon in which it spends the winter. Two generations occur each year with two peaks of abundance of caterpillars in July and October. The winter is spent in the cocoon spun on the host plant. The cocoon usually has a noticeable bump on the back and on the front there is usually a distinct, round hatch cover (the operculum) through which the moth emerges in the spring (the scientific name opercularis was named for the distinctive operculum.).
49. Wisconsin: Craspedacusta sowerbyi
Craspedacusta sowerbyi is a hydrozoan, which is most easily identified when it takes the form of a small, bell-shaped jellyfish, known as a hydromedusa. The hydromedusa measures about 5–25 mm in diameter, and is translucent with a whitish or greenish tinge. It possesses five opaque-white cᴀɴᴀʟs, which form the gastrovascular cavity; four are radial and one is medially dorsoventral. Tentacles of varying lengths protrude from the upper margin of the velum, arranged with three to seven short tentacles between longer ones. Freshwater jellyfish exhibit four very long tentacles, each parallel to a radial cᴀɴᴀʟ at the edge of the velum. Shorter tentacles facilitate feeding, while the longer ones give stability for swimming. The total number of tentacles varies from 50 to 500. Conspicuous swarms of hydromedusae appear sporadically, but are only one part of the animal’s life cycle. Craspedacusta sowerbyi more often exist as microscopic podocysts (dormant “resting bodies”), frustules (larvae produced as.ᴇ xually by budding), planulae (larvae produced s.ᴇ xually by the hydromedusae), or as sessile polyps, which attach to stable surfaces and can form colonies consisting of two to four individuals and measuring 5 to 8 mm.
50. Wyoming: Wolverine
Wolverine, (Gulo gulo), also called glutton, carcajou, or skunk bear, member of the weasel family (Mustelidae) that lives in cold northern latitudes, especially in timbered areas, around the world. It resembles a small, squat, broad bear 65–90 cm (26–36 inches) long, excluding the bushy, 13–26-cm (5–10-inch) tail; shoulder height is 36–45 cm (14–18 inches), and weight is 9–30 kg (20–66 pounds). The legs are short, somewhat bowed; the soles, hairy; the semiretractile claws, long and sharp; the ears, short; and the teeth, strong. The coarse, long-haired coat is blackish brown with a light brown stripe extending from each side of the neck along the body to the base of the tail. The animal has ᴀɴᴀʟ glands that secrete an unpleasant-smelling fluid.