Marbled Murrelet

Scientific: Brachyramphus marmoratus
Spanish: Mérgulo jaspeado

Diet: Fish, cephalopods
Habitat: Nearshore waters, and coastal coniferous forests
Status: Endangered

A Seabird In the Trees
Murrelets are seabirds, but they depend upon moist forests near the coast for breeding. They build their nests high up on lichen and moss-covered branches. Logging and development in California has dramatically reduced their population, making them a threatened species.

Pacific Giant Salamander

Scientific: Dicamptodon ensatus
Spanish: Salamandra gigante del Pacífico

Diet:  Fish hatchlings, insects, slugs, other salamanders
Habitat: Wet forests in or near, cold streams and rivers, mountain lakes, and ponds
Status: Near Threatened

Although usually in or near streams, Pacific giant salamanders may be found several hundred feet from water in wet weather. These large amphibians can grow to over a foot in length and have been known to make barking sounds when disturbed.

Slender Banana Slug

Scientific: Ariolimax dolichophallus
Spanish: Babosa banana

Diet: Dead plants, animal droppings, fungi and moss
Habitat: Forest floor of coniferous rainforest
California Status: Imperiled

The Importance Of Being Slimy
A sticky slimy carpet protects slugs from sharp objects, helps them climb trees, travel upside down along a branch, and even lower themselves to the ground by a slime cord. The slime and their bright coloring also discourages many animals from eating them.

Banana slugs depend upon the redwood canopy to keep their habitat moist, and in return these slugs will consume plants that compete with redwoods for nutrients and light. During dry weather, banana slugs will retreat underground to prevent desiccation.

Did you know? Banana Slugs are the school mascot for the University of California, Santa Cruz

Black-tailed Deer

Scientific: Odocoileus hemionus
Spanish: Ciervo de cola negra
Awaswas: Tote, Tooche

Diet: Grasses, shrubs, berries, lichen
Habitat: Grasslands, forests, woodlands
California Status: Least Concern

Deer are most active in the evening and early morning when they venture into open spaces to graze on grasses and other plants. During the day and night, they often seek cover under the canopy in forests or woodlands. Deer are an important food source for large predators like mountain lions. If predator populations decline, deer populations can boom, causing over-grazing of grasslands.

What relationship do you think humans have with deer, both historically, and today?

Western Gray Squirrel

Scientific: Sciurus griseus
Spanish: Ardilla gris occidental
Awaswas: Hiré

Diet: Nuts and seeds
Habitat: Woodlands, coniferous forests, suburban greenspaces
Status: Least Concern

Western gray squirrels live in Santa Cruz all year long. They use their long tails for balance as they run and leap among branches. Squirrels store acorns and nuts in shallow holes or caches in the ground but do not always re-find their stores, which can sprout into new trees. They mostly eat seeds and are known to steal from people’s bird feeders, making them a common neighbor for humans. They nest up in trees in “dreys”, which are made out of twigs and lined with moss or fur. Their alarm call sounds like a bird chirp and it is used to warn others of a predator or danger in the area. 

Fun Facts:

  • Squirrels can live up to 8 years old.
  • Their teeth never stop growing – they can grow up to 6 inches per year. Their teeth are never that long though because they are constantly wearing them down when they eat hard seeds. 
  • Squirrels are rodents and belong to the Family Sciuridae.
  • A group of squirrels is called a scurry.

Mountain Lion

Scientific: Puma concolor
Spanish: Puma
Mutsun: Tammala

Diet: Deer, small mammals
Habitat: Forests, mountainous deserts, urban wildland interfaces
California Status: Specially Protected Species

Space to Thrive
Male mountain lions require large areas of connected habitat to find food and survive. Their territories are around 100 square miles, and become threatened as human developments expand. 

How Did the Museum get its specimen?
Our male lion was shot under a California Department of Fish and Game depredation permit in the foothills near Carmel, California in December 1981. These permits are only issued if an animal is repeatedly killing livestock. This lion proved to be old and had an injured foot, probably taking livestock because it was unable to hunt wild prey successfully.