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10 Essential Mammal Facts About These Warm-Blooded Creatures

Upon closer examination of these mammal facts, we can learn what makes the animals that comprise this classification unique. This article explores their behavior, survival methods, distinctive physiological traits, and how they contribute to maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Unlike other animals, mammals give birth to live offspring, a defining characteristic of mammalian life. (The only exceptions are monotremes like the platypus and echidna.) Additionally, all mammals are warm-blooded, meaning they can self-regulate their body temperature. 

10 Mammal Facts

bear on grass
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash. Read more about bears in our bear facts.

1. Mammals are a diverse species.

The Earth is home to over 5,000 mammal species, from placental mammals to monotremes and marsupials. (Around 95% of the world's mammals belong to the placental group.) All mammals evolved particular traits and behaviors to help them survive in their habitat and play their ecological role. 

For example, mammals breathe air with their lungs, exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. They also have three tiny bones in their ears. Additionally, nearly all mammals can move around with their limbs. 

The cheetah is a land mammal living in Africa and the fastest land mammal on the planet. It chases prey in open spaces. On the other hand, the dolphin navigates the ocean depths. Its streamlined body and powerful tail help it move efficiently.

Additionally, the dolphin has a highly sophisticated echolocation system, enabling it to detect prey in low-light conditions.

2. Mammals come in various sizes.

The Kitti's hog-nosed bat, also known as the bumblebee bat, is the world's smallest mammal, measuring only 1.1 to 1.3 inches long and weighing only 2 grams. This bat has evolved to improve its agility and seek shelter in tiny spaces. Despite its size and fast metabolism, this bat can live from 5 to 10 years

Meanwhile, the blue whale is the biggest mammal and the largest animal in the world, stretching to 100 feet long and weighing 200 tons. Their massive bodies mean they have massive organs; for example, their hearts can pump blood through arteries large enough for human beings to swim through.

Additionally, their stomach can contain tons of krill every day. Despite their size, blue whales swim gracefully through the ocean. They can also live for 70-90 years.

Related read: For more about these mammal species, check out our whale facts and bat facts.

3. Mammals live everywhere on Earth.

jaguar on rock
Photo by Ramon Vloon on Unsplash

One fact about mammals is that they live everywhere in the world, including Antarctica. For example, Weddell seals rest on ice chunks while enduring the harsh cold1, thanks to their thick layer of blubber and fur. Meanwhile, the Amazon is a dense green labyrinth that echoes with the chatters and howls of primates and jaguars. 

Furthermore, mammals have adapted to survive in the wild; bats fly and hunt at night, then sleep during the day. Similarly, the ocean teems with mammals, such as whales and dolphins.

Then, one can climb the world's highest peaks to see the sturdy yak on craggy slopes nearly 18,000 feet high. Even the arid desert supports mammals, such as the kangaroo rat, living its whole life without drinking a single drop of water. 

4. Mammals are warm-blooded.

As warm-blooded animals, mammals can thrive in various habitats. Moreover, since their bodies can generate heat, they can maintain a consistent body temperature regardless of the outside temperature4.

When mammals eat, the energy from their food goes to maintaining a consistent body temperature of around 37 degrees Celsius, regardless of the weather. Moreover, they trap heat in their bodies through natural insulation, like fur, blubber, and feathers. 

However, some animals, like bats and hummingbirds, can lower their temperature through torpor, preserving their energy when food becomes scarce.

5. Only mammals produce milk.

kangaroo with joey
Photo by pen_ash on Pixabay

Next on our interesting mammal facts list: Mammals share a common trait; they all produce milk to nurture their young2. After childbirth, the mammal releases prolactin and oxytocin hormones that trigger lactation. This process is not exclusive to one sex; both male and female mammals have mammary glands, though the latter typically produces milk. 

However, mammal lactation does not follow a singular uniform process. For instance, monotremes like the platypus and echidnas do not secrete milk through nipples but through skin patches. On the other hand, marsupials like kangaroos change their milk composition as the joey grows, offering the appropriate nutrients for the different stages of development.

Meanwhile, marine mammals such as whales and seals produce high-fat milk to help their young develop a protective layer of blubber.

6. Mammals care for their young.

All mammals, from the shrew to the whale, show a strong attachment to their offspring5. Since most mammals are helpless at birth, this bond helps mammal babies and parents survive and ensures their lineage continues.

Mothers nurse, groom, and protect their young. On the other hand, some fathers, like the marmoset, carry their offspring on their backs. Some parents teach their young to hunt or forage, passing down vital survival skills.

7. Dogs were the first domesticated mammals.

dog on grass
Photo by birgl on Pixabay

Believe it or not, dogs have stayed with human beings as loyal companions before they learned to farm3. Genetic studies reveal that the domestication of dogs began between 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. How did this partnership happen?

The early humans first formed alliances with wolves, the ancestors of modern dogs. In the German suburb of Bonn-Oberkassel, archaeologists discovered a human and a dog buried together at a 15,000-year-old site.

Experts speculated that human leftovers initially attracted wolves to their campsites. Over time, the less afraid and more adaptable wolves survived and evolved to join humans in their environment. Read more about our history and love of man's best friends in our dog facts.

8. Monotremes are the only egg-laying mammals.

Like reptiles and birds, these mammals lay eggs. Other mammals carry their young inside their womb before giving birth. They are also ancient members of the mammalian family. Today, the only existing monotremes are the platypus and four echidna species in Australia and New Guinea. 

The platypus lays small, leathery eggs, while echidnas have evolved a pouch similar to marsupials to cradle their eggs. Both monotremes' hatchlings, known as 'puggles,' feed on milk, classifying them as mammals.

9. Marsupials put their young in a pouch.

On the other hand, marsupials carry their offspring in a pouch6. These young marsupials, also known as joeys, are only as big as a grain of rice at birth, and they immediately crawl into the pouch, a secure and warm environment.

The pouch is a feeding spot for the joeys and provides warmth. Kangaroo joeys stay inside their mother's pouch for around nine months, while koala joeys stay there for six to seven months. Some marsupials, like the bandicoot, have a unique pouch that only appears during the breeding season, acting as a temporary nursery.

10. Various mammals are endangered.

black rhinoceros
Photo by patrickgregerson on Pixabay

Various mammals, including the Sumatran tiger, Amur leopard, and Javan rhinoceros, belong to the 1,200 mammal species on the verge of extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has identified humans as the culprit, citing our activities as the primary reason for their dwindling numbers.

Irresponsible hunting and poaching have dramatically reduced several animal populations. For example, humans have hunted the black rhinoceros in Africa for its horns since the 1960s, leading to a 97.6% decline in their numbers. Besides hunting, human expansion and resource consumption has destroyed natural forests, displacing various species. 

Even the polar bear in the Arctic region is unsafe from human activity. Climate change has begun melting the polar ice caps, leaving the polar bears hungry by destroying their hunting grounds.

Remember to share your favorite mammal facts to your social media and friends!

1

Burns, J. M., Trumble, S. J., Castellini, M. A., & Testa, J. W. (1998). The diet of Weddell seals in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, as determined from scat collections and stable isotope analysis. Polar Biology, 19(4), 272-282. 

2

Skibiel, A. L., Downing, L. M., Orr, T. J., & Hood, W. R. (2013). The evolution of the nutrient composition of mammalian milks. Journal of Animal Ecology, 82(6), 1254-1264.

3

Janssens, L. a. A., Giemsch, L., Schmitz, R. W., Street, M., Van Dongen, S., & Crombé, P. (2018). A new look at an old dog: Bonn-Oberkassel reconsidered. Journal of Archaeological Science, 92, 126–138. 

4

Lovegrove, B.G. (2012). A Single Origin of Heterothermy in Mammals. In: Ruf, T., Bieber, C., Arnold, W., Millesi, E. (eds) Living in a Seasonal World. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

5

Smiseth, P. T. (2014). Evolution of parental care [Dataset]. In Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets.

6

Tyndale-Biscoe, H. (2005). Life of marsupials. CSIRO Publishing. 

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Chinny Verana, BSc.

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