Endemic Animals of California








Mohave Ground Squirrel
Mohave Ground Squirrel
The Mohave ground squirrel lives in the California desert and is amongst its more elusive inhabitants. They have highly developed survival skills for the desert which enable them to avoid this hostile climate’s extremes. Mohave ground squirrels are cryptically colored to match their sandy environment. It is very hard to find them and to observe and study them is even more difficult.
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Mohave Ground Squirrel
Giant Kangaroo Rat
Giant Kangaroo Rat
Giant kangaroo rats are the largest of the more than 20 kangaroo rat species. They are small rodents, so-named because they move by hopping with their powerful back legs. Their front limbs are smaller and used just for digging, while their hind legs are long and powerful. Their very long pointed tail acts like a rudder, providing balance. Their hind legs can propel them in leaps of more than 2 meters when they are escaping from predators. Giant ...
kangaroo rats in the wild can live for as long as 9.8 years, and in captivity up to 5 years.
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Giant Kangaroo Rat
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Endemic to the U.S., this mouse is one of the smallest rodents in this country. Another important characteristic of the Salt marsh harvest mouse is its ability of drinking sea water as a result of adaptation to its salty environment. The Latin name of this species means “grooved-toothed mouse with a red belly”, referring to the grooved upper incisors of the animal, which, along with its furred tail, distinguish the Salty mouse from the similar hou ...
se mouse. In addition, this rodent is often mistaken for the Western harvest mouse, although differs from the latter by more reddish under parts, darker coloration of the back and ears as well as a thicker, more uniformly colored tail.
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Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Alpine Chipmunk
Alpine Chipmunk
Alpine chipmunks are gray-brown overall with muted orange flanks. They have three white stripes on the cheeks and four down the back. The upper part of their tail is grayish-white to yellow. Overall their pattern is much paler compared to most species.
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Alpine Chipmunk
Sonoma Chipmunk
Sonoma Chipmunk
Sonoma chipmunks are small ground-dwelling rodents in the squirrel family. These chipmunks have 5 black to brown stripes running along their body with white stripes in between. The rest parts of the body range from tawny to cinnamon to gray. Their belly is grayish white and tail is edged in white. Sonoma chipmunks have summer and winter pelage. The winter pelage is generally slightly darker and duller than the summer pelage.
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Sonoma Chipmunk
San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel
San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel
The San Joaquin antelope squirrel or Nelson's antelope squirrel is a species of antelope squirrel, in the San Joaquin Valley of the U.S. state of California. These squirrels are dull yellowish-brown or buffy-clay in color on upper body and outer surfaces of the legs. They have a white belly and a white streak down each side of their body. The underside of their tail is a buffy white with black edges.
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San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel
Island Fox
Island Fox
The Island fox is a small fox that is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. There are six subspecies, each unique to the island it lives on, reflecting its evolutionary history. Island foxes are generally docile, show little fear of humans, and are easily tamed. They have gray fur on their head, a ruddy red coloring on their sides, white fur on their belly, throat and the lower half of their face. There is also a black stripe ...
on the dorsal surface of their tail. Males in this species are always larger than the females.
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Island Fox
Vampire squid
Vampire squid
The vampire squid is a small cephalopod found throughout temperate and tropical oceans in extreme deep sea conditions. The vampire squid uses its bioluminescent organs and its unique oxygen metabolism to thrive in the parts of the ocean with the lowest concentrations of oxygen. This organism has two long retractile filaments, which distinguish it from both octopuses and squids, and places it in its own order, Vampyromorphida, although its ...
closest relatives are octopods. As a phylogenetic relict, it is the only known surviving member of its order. The first specimens were collected on the Valdivia Expedition and they were originally described as an octopus in 1903 by German teuthologist Carl Chun, but later assigned to a new order together with several extinct taxa.
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Vampire squid
Yellow-billed magpie
Yellow-billed magpie
The yellow-billed magpie is a large bird in the crow family that is restricted to the U.S. state of California. It inhabits the Central Valley and the adjacent chaparral foothills and mountains. Apart from its having a yellow bill and a yellow streak around the eye, it is virtually identical to the black-billed magpie found in much of the rest of North America. The scientific name commemorates the English naturalist Thomas Nuttall.
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Yellow-billed magpie
California red-sided garter snake
California red-sided garter snake
The California red-sided garter snake is a subspecies of the common garter snake. This slender subspecies of natricine snake is indigenous to North America and is one of three recognized subspecies of Thamnophis sirtalis found in California. While commonly confused with the subspecies T. s. concinnus, it is biologically part of the population of the subspecies T. s. tetrataenia, as pointed out by Boundy and Rossman, but was preserved as T. s. ...
infernalis as a neotype under ICZN code Article 75 in a 2000 decision by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 2000 in order to preserve the existing subspecies taxonomy. Most California red-sided garter snakes have a pattern of blue stripes on a black and red background. Their average total length is about 55 cm, with a maximum total length of about 100 cm .
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California red-sided garter snake
San Francisco garter snake
San Francisco garter snake
The San Francisco garter snake is a slender multi-colored subspecies of the common garter snake. Designated as an endangered subspecies since the year 1967, it is endemic to San Mateo County and the extreme northern part of coastal Santa Cruz County in California. Some researchers estimate that there are only 1,000 to 2,000 adult snakes of the subspecies T. s. tetrataenia remaining. However, the full extent of the snakes' habitat has not been ...
fully documented, and many snakes may utilize creeks and other waterways that are currently unexplored. This garter snake prefers wet and marshy areas, and because of its elusive nature, it is difficult to see or capture.
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San Francisco garter snake
Giant garter snake
Giant garter snake
The giant garter snake is the largest species of garter snake. Relatively rare, it is a semi-aquatic snake with a limited distribution in the wetlands of central California.
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Giant garter snake
San Joaquin kit fox
San Joaquin kit fox
The endangered San Joaquin kit fox was formerly very common in the San Joaquin Valley and through much of Central California. Its 1990 population was estimated to be 7,000. This subspecies is still endangered, after nearly 50 years of being on the Endangered Species List. Officially this subspecies was listed March 3, 1967. On September 26, 2007, Wildlands Inc. announced the designation of the 684-acre Deadman Creek Conservation Bank, which is ...
intended specifically to protect habitat of the San Joaquin kit fox. However, the population continues to decline mostly due to heavy habitat loss. Other factors include competition from red fox, and the extermination of the gray wolf from California has left the coyote as the dominant meso-predator in kit fox territory bringing an imbalance in ecosystem relationships. Sarcoptic Mange has also constituted a significant threat, specifically to the Bakersfield population of the subspecies, with 15 confirmed cases reported by the end of 2014.
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San Joaquin kit fox
Aleutian cackling goose
Aleutian cackling goose
The Aleutian cackling goose, is a small subspecies of the cackling goose averaging 1.7 to 2.1 kilograms in weight. It was one of 122 species of animals, birds, and fish first documented for science by the Lewis and Clark Expedition .
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Aleutian cackling goose
Gymnogyps varonai
Gymnogyps varonai
Gymnogyps varonai, sometimes called the Cuban condor, is an extinct species of large New World vulture in the family Cathartidae. G. varonai is related to the living California condor, G. californianus and the extinct G. kofordi, either one of which it may have evolved from. The species is solely known from fossils found in the late Pleistocene to early Holocene tar seep deposits in Cuba. G. varonai may have preyed upon carcasses from large ...
mammals such as ground sloths.
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Gymnogyps varonai
San Clemente loggerhead shrike
San Clemente loggerhead shrike
The San Clemente loggerhead shrike or San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike is a subspecies of the loggerhead shrike that is endemic to San Clemente Island, California.
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San Clemente loggerhead shrike
Phoenicopterus minutus
Phoenicopterus minutus
Phoenicopterus minutus is an extinct species of flamingo which inhabited California during the Late Pleistocene. It was originally discovered in San Bernardino County, California. At the time of discovery, it was the smallest flamingo on record.
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Phoenicopterus minutus
Buteogallus daggetti
Buteogallus daggetti
Buteogallus daggetti, occasionally called "Daggett's eagle" or the "walking eagle", is an extinct species of long-legged hawk which lived in southwest North America during the Pleistocene. Initially believed to be some sort of carrion-eating eagle, it was for some time placed in the distinct genus Wetmoregyps, named for Alexander Wetmore. It probably resembled a larger version of the modern-day savanna hawk, with its long legs possibly used like ...
the secretarybird of Africa to hunt for small reptiles from a safe distance. It died out about 13,000 years ago. Fossils of B. daggetti were discovered in the La Brea and Carpinteria lagerstätte in southern California, and in Nuevo León in Mexico. Its habitat included grasslands, marshlands, brushy savannas and ponds. It probably ate mostly small reptiles such as snakes. As is often the case with birds, the female seems to have been larger than the male.
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Buteogallus daggetti
Grus pagei
Grus pagei
Grus pagei is an extinct crane reported from the upper Pleistocene asphalt deposits of Rancho La Brea, Los Angeles, California. It is one of three cranes present at Rancho La Brea, the others being the living whooping crane and sandhill crane . It is the smallest of the three cranes, and it had a relatively longer, more slender skull than the living cranes. At least 11 individuals are represented by 42 fossil bones. Described by Kenneth E. ...
Campbell Jr. in 1995, it was named after the philanthropist responsible for the museum at the tar pits, George C. Page.
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Grus pagei
San Clemente wren
San Clemente wren
The San Clemente wren was a subspecies of Bewick's wren. It was mainly distributed on San Clemente Island, off the southern coast of California. The San Clemente wren is extinct, with the last sighting in 1941.
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San Clemente wren
Santa Cruz long-toed salamander
Santa Cruz long-toed salamander
The Santa Cruz long-toed salamander is an endangered subspecies of the long-toed salamander, which is found only close to a few isolated ponds in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties in California. It has a black body, broken yellow or orange irregular striping along its spine, and a tail fin well evolved for swimming. Like other mole salamanders, it is found near pools or slow-moving streams and has a very secretive lifestyle, making it difficult ...
to find.
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Santa Cruz long-toed salamander
Coastal Range newt
Coastal Range newt
The Coastal Range newt is a subspecies of the California newt . It is endemic to California, from Mendocino County south to San Diego County.
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Coastal Range newt
Gambelia sila
Gambelia sila
Gambelia sila, commonly known as the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, is a species of lizard in the family Crotaphytidae. The species is endemic to southern California.
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Gambelia sila
Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii
Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii
Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii, commonly known as the Coast Range fence lizard, is a subspecies of Sceloporus occidentalis, the Western fence lizard.
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Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii
Island night lizard
Island night lizard
The island night lizard is a species of night lizard native to three of the Channel Islands of California: San Nicolas Island, Santa Barbara Island, and San Clemente Island. A small number of island night lizards also live on Sutil Island, near Santa Barbara Island.
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Island night lizard
Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard
Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard
The Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard is a species of phrynosomatid lizard.
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Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard
Panamint alligator lizard
Panamint alligator lizard
The Panamint alligator lizard is a species of lizard in the Anguidae family.
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Panamint alligator lizard
Sceloporus occidentalis longipes
Sceloporus occidentalis longipes
Sceloporus occidentalis longipes is a subspecies of the western fence lizard, commonly called the Great Basin fence lizard. Several subspecies of the western fence lizard, a species of phrynosomatid lizard, are found in the far western part of North America.
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Sceloporus occidentalis longipes
San Diego mountain kingsnake
San Diego mountain kingsnake
The San Diego mountain kingsnake is a subspecies of nonvenomous colubrid snake endemic to Southern California. Its state-level conservation status is "Species of Special Concern".
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San Diego mountain kingsnake
Sceloporus occidentalis becki
Sceloporus occidentalis becki
Sceloporus occidentalis becki, commonly known as the island fence lizard, is a subspecies of the western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis.
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Sceloporus occidentalis becki
Anniella stebbinsi
Anniella stebbinsi
Anniella stebbinsi, the Southern California legless lizard, is a small, slender lizard, and, as the name suggests, is legless. Not much is known about the Southern California legless lizard as a separate species, with most observations conducted while it was not recognised as separate from Anniella pulchra.
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Anniella stebbinsi
Crotalus mitchellii muertensis
Crotalus mitchellii muertensis
Common names: El Muerto Island speckled rattlesnake. Crotalus mitchellii muertensis is a venomous pitviper subspecies endemic to El Muerto Island, Mexico. It is sometimes treated as a full species, Crotalus muertensis.
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Crotalus mitchellii muertensis
Pacific pocket mouse
Pacific pocket mouse
The Pacific pocket mouse, Perognathus longimembris pacificus, is endemic to California. It lives in sandy coastal soils of the coastal sage scrub ecoregion. It eats seeds and some insects. It was believed to be extinct until 1993, when a small population was discovered. It is now a federally listed Endangered animal species.
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Pacific pocket mouse
Perrin's beaked whale
Perrin's beaked whale
Perrin's beaked whale is part of the toothed whale suborder and is one of over 90 known cetaceans in existence today. Beaked whales are part of the family Ziphiidae, which are the second most diverse group out of all marine mammals with over 20 species currently recognized. Although diverse, little is understood about these timid, deep divers that can dive for up to two hours. The whales are partially named after their beak shaped jaw, which ...
extends from their small head. The genus name Mesoplodon comes from the Greek meanings of meso-, - hopla, - odon, and may be translated as 'armed with a tooth in the center of the jaw'. Perrin's beaked whale was described as a new species in 2002 by Dalebout et al. based on five animals stranding on the coast of California between 1975 and 1997, which were initially identified as other species. The common and specific names of Mesopledon perrini are a tribute to cetologist William F. Perrin. As of May 2019, only six specimens have ever been examined. The first two specimens were found stranded on the California coast in May 1975, other specimens were found in 1978, 1979, September 1997, and October 2013. The first four individuals were initially identified as Hector's beaked whales, but the mtDNA sequence database of beaked whales revealed the specimens were genetically distinct. The fifth was assumed to be a neonate Cuvier's beaked whale .
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Perrin's beaked whale
Stephens's kangaroo rat
Stephens's kangaroo rat
Stephens's kangaroo rat is a species of rodent in the family Heteromyidae. It is endemic to the Southern California region of the United States, primarily in western Riverside County. The species is named after American zoologist Frank Stephens . The natural habitat of Stephens's kangaroo rat is sparsely vegetated temperate grassland. This habitat has been destroyed or modified for agriculture throughout the species' range; as a result, ...
Stephens's kangaroo rat is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It occurs sympatrically with the agile kangaroo rat, but tends to prefer few shrubs and gravelly soils to the agile's preference for denser shrubs.
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Stephens's kangaroo rat
Yellow-cheeked chipmunk
Yellow-cheeked chipmunk
The yellow-cheeked chipmunk, also known as the redwood chipmunk, is a species of rodent in the squirrel family, Sciuridae. It is endemic to areas near the coast of northern California in the United States where it inhabits coastal coniferous forest.
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Yellow-cheeked chipmunk
Channel Islands spotted skunk
Channel Islands spotted skunk
The island spotted skunk is an insular endemic carnivore and a subspecies of the western spotted skunk . Little is known about their exact variations from the mainland spotted skunk and variations between locations, resolution of which awaits further genetic and morphologic evaluation. The skunk is only currently found on two islands off the southern coast of California . Its presence has been recorded on San Miguel Island, but it has since been ...
declared extinct in that area. The Channel Island skunk is one of two terrestrial carnivores on the islands, the other being the island fox. It is designated as a species of special concern by the state of California.
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Channel Islands spotted skunk
Fresno kangaroo rat
Fresno kangaroo rat
The Fresno kangaroo rat or San Joaquin kangaroo rat is a species of rodent in the family Heteromyidae. It is endemic to areas within and near the San Joaquin Valley of California in the United States. Habitat destruction due to agricultural development and urbanization has put this species at risk, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as "vulnerable". There are three subspecies of D. ...
nitratoides: D. n. exilis : 113 , D. n. nitratoides : 112
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Fresno kangaroo rat
Tipton kangaroo rat
Tipton kangaroo rat
The Tipton kangaroo rat, is a subspecies of the San Joaquin kangaroo rat, a rodent in the family Heteromyidae.
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Tipton kangaroo rat
Northern fin whale
Northern fin whale
The northern fin whale is a subspecies of fin whale that lives in the North Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific Ocean. It has been proposed that the northern Pacific population represents a separate subspecies, B. p. velifera. At least one other subspecies of fin whale, the southern fin whale, exists in the southern hemisphere.
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Northern fin whale
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