California Wild Life

Just a sample of the local Wildlife you can see on your visit to the Museum!

Tule Elk- The tule elk (Cervus canadensis nannodes) is a subspecies of elk found only in California, ranging from the grasslands and marshlands of the Central Valley to the grassy hills on the coast.

Tule Elk feed off of tule which is found growing in marshlands. Tule Elk is the smallest subspecies of all American elks. Males weight 450-550 pounds at adult and females average 375 to 425 pounds.

The calves are similar to deer fawns, with brown coat and white spots.

Mountain lions are large cats, ranging from 7 to 8 feet in length and weighing 150 to 300 pounds. Their body coloration varies from tan to gray as adults and is spotted when young. They have clear yellow eyes, a pink nose, and well-muscled, strong legs.

Mountain lions are carnivorous. They prey on most other animals in their habitat, including pronghorn, hares, badgers, porcupines, skunks, coyotes, deer, bighorn sheep, fish, and rodents.

Mountain lions have color vision and highly developed mental faculties to aid their acute senses in the hunt. In dim light, most cats see up to six times better than humans. They are generally quiet, although their vocalizations include growls, hisses, and roars, as well as high-pitched screams. Mountain lions in the wild live approximately 10 years.

The mountain lion is also known as the cougar, puma, panther, and catamount, and is the largest wild cat in North America.There are an estimated 30,000 mountain lions in the western U.S. Mountain lions are solitary animals. They are very territorial and actively avoid other cats except during courtship. Mountain lions are active hunters and may travel long distances in search of food.

A typical wild bear diet consists of berries, plants, nuts, roots, honey, honeycomb, insects, larvae, carrion, and small mammals.

Black bears can sprint up to 35mph and they are strong swimmers and great tree climbers.

There are an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 black bears in California and 200 to 300 In Nevada.

Did you know?

Bobcat coat colors vary, but most are reddish above and pale underneath with some patterned dark stripes or spots. A distinctive characteristic of bobcats is the tuft of fur on each ear.

Bobcats weigh 15 to 35 pounds and have a short bobbed tail with black on the tip. Their ears are long with 1/2-inch black tufts at the end, and their large noses resemble rubber erasers.

Bobcats live in varied habitats including rocks, brush, and dense vegetation.

Bobcats eat a varied diet, including rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, carrion, and insects, so they rarely encounter food shortages.

The Great Horned Owl is characterized by large ear tufts, yellow eyes, an owl’s facial disk, a lack of a visible neck, and feathers down to the talons.

The tufts of feathers on top of the owl’s head, which are called “horns” are not part of the ear apparatus, but they can be raised or lowered as an indicator of owl’s mood and can be used in communicating with another owl.

Their vocalizations include the very distinctive low, hooting, who-who-whowhowho-whoo-whooo. The female voice is usually lower and deeper in tone than the males.

Great Horned Owls capture a wide variety of prey that ranges in size from shrews and mice, to jack rabbits. They have been known to take prey as large as a porcupine. They also eat fish, scorpions, and a variety of birds, including the young of other raptors.

The Barn Owl has a very distinct heart-shaped facial disk, surrounded by a dark ruff. It has small, dark eyes, an elongated beak, and no ear tufts. Its wings are about two times the length of its tail. Its tarsi are covered with short feathers.

Barn Owls are nocturnal owls and hunt primarily by flying low along hedges, through woodlands and over fields, occasionally perching on a perch or low branch. After locating their prey by sight or sound, they hover and swoop, striking with their talons and then immediately taking off with their food firmly held in their beak. Barn Owls probably have the best sense of hearing of all the owls and can pinpoint prey in total darkness.

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