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Archive - November 2022

“Family” is placed between the “order” and “genus” classification categories. Organisms in a “family” have more characteristics in common than they do with the rest of the organisms in their “order.”

We will continue in Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia and Order Carnivora to show how this order is split into families.

Recent taxonomic work shows that the Order Carnivora, the carnivores, contains 15 families, five of which are represented in Illinois.

Family Canidae contains the coyotes, wolves and foxes. These carnivores have elongated legs. They have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each back foot. Their ears stand up straight. The snout is long and narrow. They communicate by barking or howling.

Raccoons are members of the Family Procyonidae. The raccoon has a long tail with alternating color bands. There are five elongated toes on each of the front and back feet.

Family Mustelidae is the largest family of carnivores in Illinois. Weasels, minks, badgers and otters are a varied group. Many of them have a long, slender body with short legs. The ears are small and rounded, and the snout is short. Scent glands are present at the base of the tail.

Skunks belong to the Family Mephitidae. Skunks have a black and white color pattern and well-developed anal scent glands. The body is broad, and the snout is long. The tail is furred. They are nocturnal and eat a variety of foods.

Only one member of the Family Felidae is a permanent resident in Illinois. A cat has a short face and small ears. It has five toes on each of the front feet and four toes on each of the back feet. The claws are rectangular and retractable. The teeth are adapted for cutting.

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