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Terrestrial Vertebrate


Web-Database for Shelter Cove, CA



Shelter Cove is located within the King Range National Conservation Area (KRNCA).  The KRNCA contains the longest undeveloped wild coast in the continental United States, and was the first National Conservation Area to be established, in 1970.  This natural wilderness offers a broad variety of animal habitats ranging from humid to arid, high mountainous terrain to ocean shorelines, mixed forests to riparian areas such as estuary, creeks, and rivers.  These diverse habitats support a wide diversity of animal species and populations.



   Note to the beginning zoologist:


Scientists group animals into the VERTEBRATES (these are animals with backbones, such as salamanders, lizards, birds, rabbits, or fox … and humans) ... and the INVERTEBRATES (these animals use other structures for internal body support, like snails, clams, crabs, spiders, bumblebees or butterflies). 

This Database was developed for terrestrial vertebrates that live in or near Shelter Cove.  This doesn’t mean that invertebrates are less important!  –indeed, while most invertebrates may have smaller bodies than most vertebrates, they are in fact far more numerous in terms of the species and individuals present.

Before going to the Database on terrestrial vertebrates, see below a few examples of beautiful invertebrate animal species in the Shelter Cove area . . .

Founders Grove RW.jpg

Take a field guide, binoculars,  and a camera, and head outside to the Shelter Cove Nature Trails or beyond, and discover the amazing variety of animals that live in this beautiful wild place!


This Banana Slug individual was observed crossing the Shelter Cove Nature Fitness Trail (Southern Humboldt County) on February 12, 2021

Yellow Spotted Millipede.jpg
California Bumblebee.jpg
Pale Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.jpg

Pacific Banana Slug (Ariolimax columbianus): found in moist and damp areas of the forest floor along the Pacific Coast region from Alaska to southern California; adults can be as long as 10 inches (25 cm) and are often bright yellow but may also appear green, brown, or even white; their skin is moist (slimy) which is needed for obtaining oxygen from the air; they are herbivorous, favoring mushrooms and dead plant materials; they spend most of the day under forest floor materials (leaves, logs, etc.) and may be more easily found at dawn or dusk when they come out to move around and feed.  (pic)


Yellow-spotted Millipede (Harpaphe haydeniana): found in the moist forests along the Pacific Coast from SE Alaska to Monterey County, commonly associated with redwood forests; adults reach a length up to 2 inches (5 cm) and have 20 body segments bearing 30 (males) or 31 (females) pairs of legs; they have a dark black to olive green body coloration with two rows of bright yellow-tipped keels (‘spots’) running down the back; as a defense against its predators, it can release toxic hydrogen cyanide gas, enough to stop most all potential predators (but not enough to affect your breathing!) except for the Ground Beetle (Promecognathus laevissimus) which specializes on eating just them!; they eat leaf litter on the forest floor; there are similar species (in the same Genus) found in our region, H. telodonta and H. pottera. 


California Bumblebee (Bombus californicus or Bombus occidentalis): in western USA there are 30 different bumblebee species present; found in wooded areas and nests in the ground, including urban areas; multiple possible color patterns of yellow and black; can be seen from spring to September feeding on nectar; important and excellent pollinators of a variety of plants including sage, lupine, berries, clover, California poppies and many other flowers, and tomatoes; they use “buzz pollination” where they grab the pollin-producing structure of the flower in their jaws and produce vibrations (using wings) that dislodge pollen that would otherwise be trapped inside the flower; they are considered a vulnerable bee species given a 60% drop in population over the last few decades due to infection by a foreign invading fungus called Nosema apis (more recent findings suggest the population is building resistance to Nosema).  (pic)


Pale Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio eurymedon): up to 4 inches (20 cm) in wingspan, found on the Pacific Coast from northern Baja California to southern British Columbia, typically from springtime to early fall; they prefer open woodlands and forest clearings, especially near ponds, creeks, or other water bodies; black and pale yellow/cream colored patterns over wings; a related species that may be seen is the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) which is more brightly yellow with black patterns over the wings; both species feed on tree leaves as caterpillars and flower nectar as adults   (pic)





Beyond the links given within each species description,

additional general references are provided below.


Jameson, EW, and Peeters, HJ (1988). California Mammals. The University of California Press, Berkeley.


Peeters, HJ, and Peeters, P. (2005). Raptors of California. The University of California Press, Berkeley.


Stebbins, RC, and McGinnis, SM.  (2012) Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, Berkeley.


Stebbins, RC (1972). California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, Berkeley.


McGinnis, SM, and Stebbins RC (2018). Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians. 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.


Stebbins, RC (2003).  A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company.


Behler, JL, and King, FW (1992). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf.


Powell, R, Collins, JT, and Hooper Jr, ED (1998). A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas.


Bartlett, RD, and Bartlett, PP (2009). Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida.

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