By Chris Stall
Information on 40-50 animals universal to every sector.
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Additional resources for Animal Tracks of Southern California
Common, widespread and active by day, the California ground squirrel is easy to sight and recognize. The largest ground squirrel in the state, it looks like a very fat western gray squirrel with an only slightly fluffy tail. Its coat is pale brownish gray, with lightly speckled back and rump. Its gray tail is fringed in white, and across the top of its shoulders, there is a V of darker fur that points forward. The California ground squirrel lives in a complex of burrows sometimes 200 feet or more in length, and rarely ventures far from the interconnected system of runways between its entrance mounds.
Unlike frogs, toads often travel fairly far from sources of water. In fact, red-spotted toads, which inhabit much of the arid region of southeastern California, receive moisture only through diet for most of the year. All toads do require water for breeding, however; look for their long, ropy strings of eggs in stagnant pond water. Individual toad tracks can be confusing and might be mistaken for the tiny dimples and scratchings of tracks left by small mice or insects. A toad tends to sit quietly waiting for insects to fly past it, at which time it takes a few leaps in the direction of wing noise, snares the bug with its long, sticky tongue, then repeats the procedure.
Related species, often with similar tracks, are listed in the notes. Where their tracks can be distinguished, guidelines for doing so are provided. If you encounter an injured animal or an apparently orphaned infant, you may be tempted to take it home and care for it. Do not do so. Instead, report the animal to local authorities, who are better able to care for it. In addition, federal and state laws often strictly control the handling of wild animals. This is always the case with species classified as rare or endangered.
Animal Tracks of Southern California by Chris Stall