Here are the mammals we’ve spotted or seen evidence of in our yard.
We’ve spotted fox in the yards a few times, but they’re pretty quick, elusive, and hard to photograph.
Lori spotted a bobcat one time in our backyard. I looked on our security camera footage later to see if I could see it, but it was pretty blurry so no good footage. I need to remember to wipe the cobwebs off of the lens from time to time.
Mountain Lion(Puma concolor)
Fortunately, we haven’t actually seen a mountain lion, although we have seen their tracks, and in one case, a deer that was most likely a victim.
Black-tailed Deer(Odocoileus hemionus
Deer are a constant fixture around our garden, and the reason we have to have deer fencing around the entire yard. We used to see bigger herds, sometimes as many as 15-20 at time. Now we usually see smaller groups of 2-5 at a time. Occasionally we’ll see big bucks, but usually it’s does either with or without her youngsters.
Rabbits & Hares
Brush Rabbit(Sylvilagus bachmani)
I have only spotted one rabbit in our yard, and I think it was willed into our yard by the mural in our bathroom which features an illustration of a rabbit that looks just like the one I saw. For the sake of our garden, I hope that’s the last rabbit I see in our yard.
Western harvest mouse(Reithrodontomys megalotis)
These mice are about 4 to 6 inches long and probably the most commonly seen one thanks to our cats.
House mouse(Mus musculus)
These mice are about 3 to 4 inches long and again, a favorite of the cats. They’re also the ones we see in the kitchen when the first cold snap sends them indoors.
Botta’s Pocket Gopher(Thomomys bottae)
Our yard is regularly under attack from gophers and moles. Fortunately, most of the time it is moles, and at least they don’t eat the plants. Occasionally our cats will catch a gopher, or we’ll see them washed up dead after a big flood. You’re supposed to be able to tell whether it’s a gopher or mole by the type of tunnel they dig, but ours look the same regardless of who’s doing the digging.
Townsend’s Mole(Scapanus townsendii) – While they don’t damage plants like gophers do, moles are a big pest in our garden as their tunnels and mounds make it hard to walk and mow. They are sort of beneficial, as they eat slugs, but they also eat the worms that are good for the soil.
Vagrant Shrew(Sorex vagrans)
The cats often find these, but they’re so small they treat them as toys rather than a food source. We usually catch them in the house alive after they momentarily escape the notice of whoever caught it, or we find them dead outdoors after the cats broke their “toy”. The day after I wrote this George was kind enough to help catch a shrew so I could identify it. Based on the measurements, it seems to be a Vagrant Shrew.
Squirrels & Chipmunks
Surprisingly after growing up in the city and being surrounded by squirrels and chipmunks, I have only seen one squirrel here in Ferndale. According to the Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge viewing guide, the only local squirrels are ground squirrels, but the one I saw was up in a tree. So maybe it was something else doing a squirrel impersonation, or maybe it was a juvenile squirrel who didn’t listen to his mom telling him not to climb the trees.
California vole(Microtus californicus constrictus)
6-7.5 inches in length, with a 2 inch tail.
Long-tailed vole(Microtus longicaudus)
About 7 inches long, including a 3 inch tail.
Virginia Opossum(Didelphis virginiana)
One of my least liked visitors to the garden. They’re ugly, and they rip up vegetation looking for food. We recently came home to find one lying dead on our sidewalk. Or at least I thought it was dead. His acting routine fooled me until we walked away and he got up and waddled off like he was drunk. Did I mention they’re really ugly? They’re even uglier when they’re playing dead.
Unfortunately, these are too common in our garden. They like living under our house although I do my best to keep them out of there. Every once in awhile we’ll have a skunk bomb go off under the house. A couple of times it’s been right under the bedroom, and it woke me up. It was so strong I had to go sleep in another room. I can’t imagine what it’s like to get your face sprayed by a skunk. One time we were coming home and we saw a couple of skunks mating in our driveway. We allowed them to finish and came back later.