top of page
Coast Mole_diggin'out.jpg

Class Mammalia

INTRODUCTION:  Encountering wild mammals is common in Shelter Cove.  Residents and visitors alike may see black-tailed deer feeding on the side of a pathway or road, or a fox scurrying along, or chipmunks and squirrels moving around in bushes or trees.  Possibly a California black bear will be sighted in the early morning.  There is also much evidence that mammals live here even if you can't immediately see the animals themselves.  You may find openings to underground burrows or mounds of dirt dug by ground squirrels and moles, respectively, or you can find feces of different size and composition, or footprints, that tell you which species left them. 

Finding and identifying the many different mammals is interesting and fun, but also can be challenging since most mammals avoid humans and will hide or run away before you see them.  When attempting to find and identify mammal species, particularly the more secretive ones, it is helpful if you know some things about their biology.  Their specific habitat requirements are important to consider.  Some species live high up in trees (some may never touch the ground throughout their entire life!).  Others may need bodies of water with the insects or fish that they eat, while some use open areas with grasses, flowers and green plants. If they hibernate in winter or migrate, then you might not find them for several months.  Also, evidence that mammals have been present includes burrows, nests, foot prints, and the type of feces (also called 'scat')!  Regarding the scat, see this and thisOnce you know some of these things, you may find it a bit easier to see different mammals or evidence that they are indeed living here in Shelter Cove! 

The Descriptions and Pictures provided below highlight several of the mammalian species found in and around Shelter Cove, as well as species that may be of interest and which live in California generally.  The Descriptions offer some characteristics and habits of different mammals that can help you to find and identify them.  Also, links to the photo and other sites are provided for further information. 


When you go out to find mammals, make sure to have the following information:

1. In what type of habitat will the mammal most likely be found?   (find out below!)

2. Is this the right time (season) of year that they should be present in our region?   (find out below!)

3. What evidence might they leave behind, like particular kinds of scat, burrows, or nests?   (find out below!)   

4. Is there a typical sound to listen for?   (find out below!)

5. Do you know the coloration patterns of males and females?   (find out below!)

6. Bring your binoculars and camera

Quick-Links for each mammal listed in the Shelter Cove Wild Animals Guide given here:

Blue SC Link Box

Order Insectivora (shrews and moles)

SOREX genl pic.jpeg
Fog Shrew - fuzzy.jpg
Fog Shrew

Fog Shrew (Sorex sonomae)*: present along the California north coast and Coast Ranges, from western Marin County north to the Oregon border; prefers coastal Douglas fir and redwood forests with damp brushy ground cover or meadow/wetland habitats; burrows and shelters using ground cover and decaying logs; active nocturnally, year-round resident, and shares environment with other shrews (Trowbridge’s Shrew, Vagrant Shrew); feeds on slugs and snails, centipedes, amphibians and insect larvae, sometimes seeds and fungi (species info) (range map) (pic)

GO BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Trowbridge's Shrew.jpg

Trowbridge’s Shrew (Sorex trowbridgii)*: present along California coast, Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada and Cascades south to Monterey Bay and north to the Oregon border; not found in California valleys or deserts; prefers mature coniferous forests with well developed understories and ground cover used to develop burrows and runway systems; unlike many other shrews, its distribution is not closely tied to water, suggesting that they may not need to drink to remain hydrated; feed on insects, spiders, centipedes, worms, and sometimes tree seeds; owls, weasels and giant salamanders are predators (species info) (range map)

Vagrant Shrew.jpg

Vagrant Shrew (Sorex vagrans)*: present along California coast, Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada and Cascades south to Santa Barbara County and north to the Oregon border; not found in California valleys or deserts and typically tied to moist habitats and water; prefers foothill to mountain riparian and wet meadow habitats, grasslands and fresh and saline wetlands, from sea level up to 12,000 feet (3750 m) elevation; typically nocturnally active, in dense ground cover and leaf litter habitats, using vole runways to move around; feeds mainly on invertebrates including insects, snails, slugs, worms, spiders, and sometimes seeds, young plant shoots and roots; as compared with the Trowbridge’s Shrew and Coast Mole, the Vagrant Shrew will more likely be found in open grassy areas; predators include owls (species info) (range map)

Marsh Shrew.JPG

Marsh Shrew/Pacific Water Shrew (Sorex bendirii)*: present along the California coast and Coast Ranges from Sonoma County north to British Columbia; usually found in marshy areas/freshwater wetlands, and during winter rains may frequent moist forests up to 3300 feet (1000 m) from water; feeds on earthworms, sowbugs, spiders, centipedes, termites and other invertebrates; forages above water as well as underneath water where it swims and probes with its snout and whiskers; active nocturnally, under logs and other cover (species info) (range map)

Moles (Scapanus spp. &  Neurotrichus spp.):

Coast Mole.jpg
Coast Mole

Coast (“Pacific”) Mole (Scapanus orarius)*:  present along the California coast and Coast Ranges from Mendocino County north through the Oregon border; prefers wet meadow, grasslands, mountain riparian, and redwood, Douglas fir, mixed conifer, and mountain hardwood-conifer forests; prefers forest to a greater extent than Townsend’s Mole; active year-round at any time of day, appears more active in winter, when soil is wet and loose; almost entirely subterranean (like most moles) using a system of shallow burrows; forages just below the surface and mostly feeds on earthworms, insects, centipeded and millipedes, snails and slugs; predators includes owls, rubber boas, and cats (species info) (range map)

GO BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Broad-footed Mole.jpg

Broad-footed (“Broad-handed”) Mole (Scapanus latimanus)*: broadly found across northern California, south through the California coast, Coast Ranges, and Sierra Nevada up to 9800 feet (3000 m) elevations, excluding the hot deserts and central valley areas; preferred habitat include grasslands, pasture, riparian and aspen habitats, but also found in wet meadow and open forest habitats; needs soil that allows burrowing (friable, moist but not flooded) and is mostly subterranean, uses a tunnel system; typically feeds just below the ground surface by burrowing, detects vibrations of prey in the soil –eats earthworms, insects, spiders, centipedes, and some plant materials; predators include owls (species info) (range map)

Townsend's Mole.jpg

Townsend’s Mole (Scapanus townsendii)*: found in the moist north coast forests from Oregon border to Humboldt County just north of Punta Gorda, so it is unlikely to exist in the King Range and Shelter Cove areas (where Coast Mole will be found); prefers grassland, wet meadow and mixed conifer forest with well-drained soil that supports underground burrow systems; leaves mounds of fresh dirt; feeds preferentially on earthworms, but also on insects, snails, slugs, leaves and roots; predators include barn owls, rubber boas, weasels and skunks (species info) (range map)'s%20Mole.jpg?itok=dG7VBrm1

Shrew Mole.jpeg

Shrew Mole (Neurotrichus gibbsii)*: present in northern California forests from the Oregon border south to Monterey County, with additional populations in Shasta and Plumas Counties; prefer Douglas Fir, redwood, mixed-conifer and riparian habitats with dense, moist understory; prefers forest habitats to a greater extent than other moles; generally found below 800 feet (250 m) elevation; uses shallow burrows, moist undercover and logs for shelter, and forages fore earthworms, insects, other invertebrates, and small amounts of vegetation; active year-long, both nocturnal and diurnal; predators include owls, giant salamanders, and rubber boa (species info) (range map)

Order Chiroptera (bats) 

    Many bats use sonar and echolocation to locate prey like flying insects!

Big Brown Bat flying.jpg
Big Brown Bat - teeth.jpg
Big BrownBat

Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)*: widespread, abundant species found throughout California and all of its diverse habitats, except hot desert or highest alpine meadows and slopes; roosts (resting on a perch) primarily in cracks in caves, trees, and human-made structures; forages over open areas, water, and less dense forest, capturing on a variety of flying insects (preferably scarab beetles); foraging flight is slow, straight, and steady, using up to 12” wingspans (thus the “Big” in its name!); activity is nocturnal from dusk to full darkness; hibernates in winter, surviving on stored fat (up to 30% of body weight); may carry rabies; predators include snakes, owls and hawks (species info) (range map)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Silver-haired Bat.jpg

Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)*: present in coastal and mountain forests from Oregon border south to Monterey County and along the Sierra Nevada to Inyo County; when migrating (in spring to summer feeding areas and in fall to hibernation locations), may be found anywhere in California; summer habitats include coniferous forests, foothill woodlands and mountain riparian, generally below 9000 feet (2750 m) elevation; most active in dusk, feeding on moths (classified as a “moth strategist” using echolocation to find and capture moths) as well as other soft-bodied insects;  foraging flight is slow and fluttery with short glides over water and open brushy areas; although populations of Big Brown Bats are numerically superior, Silver-haired Bats are typically active later, avoiding competition for prey; roost in hollow trees, rock crevices, caves and under bark; predators include owls and skunks (species info) (range map)

California Myotis flying.jpg

California myotis (Myotis californicus)*: widespread, common species found throughout California and all of its diverse habitats, including hot desert and mountain forests up to 6000 feet (1875 m) in elevation; a crevice-roosting species that changes roosting locations commonly, often choosing nearest available sites after feeding; feeds on a variety of flying insects; foraging flight is slow and highly maneuverable, flying low over ground or water, or among shrubs and trees; activity is nocturnal, but is reduced in winter and by heavy precipitation or strong winds; most hibernate, emerging on warm days to forage; predators include owls, snakes, and small mammals; may carry rabies (species info) (range map)

Long-eared Myotis.jpg

Long-eared Myotis (Myotis evotis)*: widespread in California but generally not common over most of its range; avoids hot deserts and arid central valley; found from sea level to 9000 feet (2700 m) elevation, preferring coniferous woodlands and forest; roosts in caves, buildings, crevices, under bark and in snags; nocturnal, later in evening than in other bats in its range; forages along habitat edges and in open land and water, catching in prey in flight; eat more beetles than other bats, but also eat moths, flies and spiders; foraging flight is slow and maneuverable and they can hover; hibernate in winter (species info) (range map)

Little Brown Bat flying.jpg

Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)*: present from the Oregon border south along the coast and Coast Range to Monterey County and south through the Sierra Nevada, but otherwise not present the central valley or in central and southern California; fairly common throughout its range, and abundant in some areas particularly in sagebrush and desert scrub, meadows and chaparral; least common in coastal scrub, grasslands, redwood and foothill woodlands (thus it is less likely to see them in Shelter Cove and King Range); populations appear to be limited by availability of roost sites, but they are quick to find new sites; nocturnal with peaks in activity 2.5 hour after dusk and before dawn; prefers to forage over water or open habitats, catching small flying insects using echolocation; flight is maneuverable; migrate to winter hibernation sites which may be located up to several hundred kilometers away; aggregations of up to 300,000 individuals have been observed; predators include birds, snakes, and small carnivorous mammals; note: some populations have seen severe declines, possibly related to pesticide contamination in the environment (species info) (range map)

Fringed Myotis.jpg

Fringed Myotis (Myotis thysanodes)*: present throughout California, except in the arid central valley and dry southeast California desert habitats; abundance appears to be irregular throughout its range, but may be common in several locales; occurs in a wide variety of more open habitats from sea level to 9350 feet (2850 m) elevation, most commonly at 4000-7000 feet (1300-2200 m) in pinyon-juniper, foothill hardwood, and hardwood-conifer habitats; roosts in caves, crevices, and human structures; active nocturnally early after sunset; feed mostly on beetles and also on moths and spiders; slow, maneuverable flight, and capable of hovering, but also may be found on ground foraging among foliage; hibernation in winter; predators include snakes and owls (species info) (range map)

Long-legged Myotis.jpg

Long-legged Myotis (Myotis volans)*: common in California through the Coast Ranges from Oregon to Mexico, Cascade/Sierra Nevada ranges to southern California and in desert mountain ranges; prefers woodland and forest habitats above 4000 feet (1200 m) elevation, while uncommon in desert and arid grassland habitats; trees are most important day roosts, while caves and mines are used as night roosts; active nocturnally, foraging on flying insects, primarily moths; capable of detecting prey at a long distance (30 feet), their flight is strong, direct (not very maneuverable) as they capture their prey, typically over water and open habitats (species info) (range map)

Yuma Myotis.jpg

Yuma Myotis (Myotis yumanensis)*: widespread and common across California, except for the dry desert habitats of southeastern California; wide variety of habitats are used between sea level to above 8000 feet (2560 m) elevation, preferably open forest and woodlands with sources of water over which to forage; roosting in caves, crevices and human structures; feeds on a wide variety of small flying insects, detected by echolocation and caught mid-air; active nocturnally, early after sunset; difficult to distinguish this species from Little Brown Bat (M. lucifugus) (species info) (range map)

Townsend's Big-eared Bat flying.jpg

Townsend’s Big-eared Bat (Corynorhinus townsendii)*: once considered common in California, now considered uncommon, but it has a wide distribution across all habitats except alpine; principally forages for small moths, but also other insects and beetles, using echolocation during slow, maneuverable flight or with hovering; nocturnally active; roosting sites are a limiting resource for this species –they will use caves or human structures; migrate relatively short distances, less than 20 miles (32 km), to hibernate in winter; note: this species is extremely sensitive to disturbance of roosting sites, with a single disturbance leading to abandonment –all known nursery colonies in limestone caves in California have been abandoned; numbers in California have strongly declined and they are a California Species of Special Concern (species info) (range map)

Western Red Bat flying.jpg
Pallid Bat flying - good.jpg
Pallid Bat.jpg
Pallid Bat

Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)*: common yearlong resident of low elevations across California, with a wide range of habitats including grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, and forests from sea level up through mixed conifer forests; most commonly seen in open, dry habitats with rocky areas for roosting; nocturnal, with activity during 90-190 minutes after sunset and shortly before dawn; small home range --doesn’t travel more than a few miles from day roost; hibernates in winter near the summer day roost area; hibernates in roosts of 20-160 individuals, in clusters where young individuals are in the warmer center; forages over open ground, more often taking prey from the ground, including beetles, flies, moths, spiders, scorpions and crickets; stout skull and teeth allow taking of large, hard-shelled prey; uses echolocation mainly for avoidance of obstacles while flying; has slow flight with frequent dips, swoops and short glides; day roosting occurs in caves, crevices, hollow trees, and human structures (species info) (range map) (pic)* 

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Hoary Bat.jpg

Hoary Bat (Aeorestes cinereus)*: most widespread North American bat, found across most of California except the southeastern deserts; during winter, found along the coast and in southern California, while in warmer months they are found in woodlands and forests ranging from sea level to 13,200 feet (4125 m) elevations; migrations between summer and winter ranges can be over long distances; individuals wintering in cold locations hibernate but may still show some activity on warmer days; generally roost in trees in dense foliage; nocturnal, typically most active later at night, 3-5 hours after sunset; moth specialist, but will eat other flying insects, using a fast and straight flight combined with echolocation; relatively high rate of rabies (species info) (range map)

Brazilian Free-tailed Bat.jpg

Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)*: present throughout California, but less common in the north coastal region (including Humboldt County) and high Sierra Nevada; largest colony is in Lava Beds National Monument in Modoc County (NE corner of state); diverse habitats used, from grassland to woodland and forest; as the name implies, it has a little tail; uses echolocation to hunt for small flying insects, primarily small moths; nocturnal activity shortly after dusk, forages high above ground, typically over 100 feet (30 m); fast flyers, averaging 25 miles per hour when travelling to and from roosting sites (up to 99 mph top speed!); uses caves, crevices, and human structures for both roosting and hibernation; some carry rabies (species info) (range map)

Order Lagomorpha (rabbits & hares)

Brush Rabbit
Brush Rabbit.jpg

Brush Rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani)*:   ppp

Ranges throughout the coast and Coast Ranges from Oregon to Mexico; also found in the Sierra Nevada foothills, but not in the dry Central Valley, deserts, or higher elevations above 3000 ft (2050 m).  Commonly seen, herbivorous, year-round residents, active in or along dense brushy areas of oak and conifer forests.  Feed on grasses, clovers, foxtails, thistles, Douglass Fir seedlings.  December to May breeding season, producing 2-4 litters per year, each of 3-4 offspring. (range map) (species info)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Black-tailed Jackrabbit
Black-tailed Jack Rabbit.jpeg

Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus):   Broadly distributed throughout California, except in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Year-round herbivores that graze and browse in and around shrubs and grassy areas near canopy and shrub cover; feed on grasses, forbs and shrubs.  Breeds throughout the year, with highest activity in April and May; produce up to four litters a year, of 3-4 young each.  Because of their adaptability and reproductive output, they can become pests known to carry disease (plague, tularemia, skin diseases) (range map) (species info)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

The Species Descriptions below will be updated soon

...follow the links below to learn more on mammals!!

NOTE: under development

Order Rodentia  (rodents)

Northern Flying Squirrel-upright.jpeg

Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)*: More recently Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel (see next description) is considered its own distinct species     

Humboldt's Flying Squirrel
Humboldt's Flying Squirrel.jpeg

Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys oregonensis)**: 

Jumps and glides from tree to tree (pic)*

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Douglas Squirrel.jpg
Douglas' Squirrel
Western Gray Squirrel.jpg
Eastern Gray Squirrel.jpg


Eastern Gray Squirrel (S. carolinensis):

Fox Squirrel.jpg
Allen's Chipmunk.jpg
Siskiyou Chipmunk.jpg
California Ground Squirrel.jpg

California (“Beechey”) Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)*:  Genus used to be Spermophilus (range map) (species info)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

California Ground Squirrel
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel.jpg

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis): black-bordered white stripe down each side; not a coastal species…in Sierra Nevada Mountains (range map) (species info)

Yellow-cheeked Chipmunk.jpg

Yellow-cheeked Chipmunk (Neotamias ochrogenys or Tamias ochrogenys):    also known as "Redwood Chipmunk"

Only lives along Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt coastal forests, hard to see but you may hear its shrill double-syllable, low-pitched “chuck-chuck” (range map) (species info)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Yellow-cheeked Chipmunk
North American Beaver.jpg
Botta's Pocket Gopher
Botta's Pocket Gopher.jpg
Norhern Pocket Gopher.jpg

Northern Pocket Gopher (Thomomys talpoides)**:   not in coast range or coast, more present east of Sierra Nevada Mountains

California Kangaroo Rat.jpg

California Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys californicus): yes-jumps like a kangaroo; not present along north coast


White-footed Vole.jpg

White-footed Vole (Arborimus albipes)*: rare and hard to catch, semi-arboreal preferably in red alder trees of the northwest coast; research on this species at Humboldt State University by Dr. Tim Bean

Sonoma Tree Vole.jpg

Sonoma Tree Vole (Arborimus pomo)*: also called California red tree mouse, lives primarily in Northcoast California old-growth Douglas Fir forests, studied by HSU Professor Stephen Sillett, Inst. Redwood Ecology; more or less restricted to fog belt; hard to find, since they are in trees (range map) (species info)

Oregon Red Tree Vole.jpg

Oregon Red Tree Vole (Arborimus longicaudus)*: live up in Douglas Fir trees, eat needles, often spend their life in one tree

Western Red-backed Vole.jpg

Western Red-backed Vole (Myodes californicus)*:    

   [Clethrionomys californicus], reddish stripe on back, lives mainly in coniferous forests

California Vole.jpg
Long-tailed Vole.jpg

Long-tailed Vole (Microtus longicaudus)*: widely distributed, often near streams, common in disturbed habitat

Creeping Vole.jpg

Creeping Vole (Microtus oregoni)*: Humboldt is southern part of range



Townsend's Vole.jpg

Townsend’s Vole (Microtus townsendii)*:  ppp


Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)*: likes wetlands, spend a lot of time in water, semi-webbed hind feet

Dusky-footed Woodrat.jpg
Dusky-footed Woodrat

Dusky-footed Woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes)*: prefer dense ground cover (chaparral, juniper, mixed conifer forest) (range map) (species info) (pic)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Bushy-tailed Woodrat.jpg

Bushy-tailed Woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes)*:   ppp

Deer Mouse.jpg

Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)*: common and broadly distributed across North America

Pinyon Mouse.jpg
Western Harvest Mouse.jpg

Western Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis)*: common and broadly distributed

Pacific Jumping Mouse.jpg
Pacific Jumping Mouse
North American Porcupine.jpg

North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)*:   ppp

House Mouse.jpg
Norway Rat.jpeg
Black Rat Rattus rattus.jpeg

Black Rat (Rattus rattus):   ppp


Order Carnivora  (carnivores)


Coyote (Canis latrans)*:   ppp (pic)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Gray Wolf _Imnaha,OR.jpg

Gray Wolf (Canis lupis): extirpated in 1924, but two packs now in Lassen County (2017) and evidence of wolf in Modoc County  1-7-2016 article: New Wolf Detected in California's Modoc County  (pic)

Gray Fox in Shelter Cove.jpg
Gray Fox
American Black Bear in California.jpg
American Black Bear
Grizzly Bear.jpg

Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos californicus): not found in California, .extirpated 1931

Fisher (Pacific Fisher).jpg

Racoon (Procyon lotor)*: you might see them around houses when it is dark outside, looking through trash for human food (range map) (species info)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Humboldt Marten.png

Humboldt Marten (Mares americana humboldtensis)*: is a subspecies of American Pine Martin (M. americana) and is endangered (only a few hundred remaining) apparently due to trapping allowed in Oregon and habitat loss from marijuana farming, Humboldt County is southwestern part of its range (pic) (pic) (pic)

Long-tailed Weasel.jpg
Short-tailed Weasel (Sloat).jpg

Stoat or Short-tailed Weasel (Mustela erminea)*: Humboldt is southern part of its range

American Mink.jpg
Striped Skunk.webp
Striped Skunk
Western Spotted Skunk.jpg
Northern River Otter.jpg

Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis): semiaquatic, eats various fish, salamanders, frogs, snails, turtles, burrows are close to water’s edge both freshwater and marine shores (range map) (species info) (pic)

Cougar _Mtn Lion.jpg

Order Artiodactyla (Deer and Elk):

Black-tailed Deer
Black-tailed Deer.jpg

Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus)*: a mule deer subspecies commonly seen throughout Shelter Cove region; characterized by black hair on top of tail (pic) (pic) (pic)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Roosevelt Elk.jpg
Roosevelt Elk

Roosevelt Elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti)*: have been known to visit Shelter Cove! (but don't count on it); more likely to see them if you visit the Sinkyone State Wilderness, south of Shelter Cove (pic) (pic) (pic)

BACK... to Shelter Cove mammals QUICK-LINKS

Order Didelmorpha (oppossums)

Virginia Opossum.jpg

Alien species

Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana): introduced into San Jose in 1910 and now commonly found in a variety of moist woodlands and brushy habitats, mostly at low elevations, including along the entire California coast; less common in dense conifer forests, and not seen in Sierra Nevada or higher elevations; an opportunistic feeder, with diet ranging from fruits to berries to green vegetation to earthworms; solitary and often “plays dead” when it feels threatened, but can be aggressive; yearlong activity that may be reduced in cold of winter; nocturnal. (species info) (range map)

bottom of page