Mammals of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

The material in the Mammals section has been selected from “Vertebrates of Torrey Pines Reserve,” by D. Hunsaker.

The two basic types of land mammals are the predators and the prey species, and neither of these two likes to be around humans. As a result, although there are numerous land mammals around, we seldom see them and often have to be content with second-hand evidence of their activities. Tracks, droppings, den sites and other clues can often inform us as to their activities. The most commonly seen mammals will be the California Ground Squirrel and the Cottontail Rabbits. Both these species are relatively tolerant of humans, are moving about during the daytime, and can be observed with little difficulty. The larger black-tail jackrabbit can be seen in the more open areas near the lagoon and in the flat lands. Most of the other animals are nocturnal and will be seen in the early morning or late afternoon as they begin or end their nocturnal movements. Skunks, raccoons, opossums, weasels, pocket gophers, gray fox, coyotes, and mule deer will all be seen occasionally by a good observer.

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) There is only one species of deer in Southern California, the Mule or Black Tail Deer. Although tame in many national and state park areas, the ones that live in the Reserve are very secretive. They can occasionally be observed feeding in the flat lowlands in the early mornings and then retreat to brushy cover during the day. They feed commonly at night and are sometimes killed by cars on the highway, The Reserve is a true haven for this species, which is becoming increasingly rare as the urban development spreads.

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