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

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.

Redwood Forest

Enormous Trees, With Few Neighbors

Redwood forests have existed all over the world for millions of years, but as the global climate has changed, so has their range. In the U.S. these forests now only occupy a coastal belt from Central California into Oregon. Redwood trees have adaptations for capturing moisture directly from the air, and occur in wet canyons and other wind-protected locations cooled by summer fog. The large redwood trees create a cool, densely shaded environment and deep organic litter on the forest floor. Plants and animals that live in these forests are adapted to a dark, damp environment.

The nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park was California’s first state park, created in 1902. Why might the redwoods and redwood forests have needed protection at that time?

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