California’s 10 Most Endangered Species

When we think of endangered species, we think of rhinos, elephants or gorillas, which are some of the most popular endangered species on the planet. But, did you know that there is a list of endangered species specific to each state? The state of California has 222 endangered species on their list and ranks in the top among the US. The following list of 10 is just some of the endangered species found in the state of California. Each one of them is also listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1977.

Riparian Brush Rabbit
The Riparian Brush Rabbit resides in Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus counties. It’s small to medium size and dark brown, gray and white coloring easily blend them into the woods and forests of California. The Riparian Brush Rabbit does not burrow or live in burrows and tend to stay close to dense vegetation where it can hide and nest.

Buena Vista Lake Ornate Shrew
As one of nine species of shrew, the Buena Vista Lake Ornate Shrew is an insect-eating mammal and is similar in size and appearance to a mouse. The Buena Vista shrew is mostly black, smoke gray and brown in color and can be found in Kern, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties. They need areas with a variety of insects to support their high metabolism.

Desert Tortoise
Making its home in the deserts of southern California, the desert tortoise spends about 95% of its life in burrows to escape the hot and cold temperatures of the desert. Adult tortoises grow to about 15 inches in length and has a high domed shell. Desert tortoises are herbivores that eat a steady diet of grasses, herbs, wildflowers, shrubs, and new growth from cacti.

Southern Sea Otter
Also known as the California Sea Otter, this otter lives exclusively along the coast and average between 46 to 64 pounds. The otters rely on their clean, dense, water resistant fur, high body temperatures and active lifestyle to insulate them against the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. Otters also consume large quantities of marine invertebrates which helps the North Pacific Ocean along the shoreline.

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher
Weighing in at 11-12 grams, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher is less than 15 cm in length from the tip of its bill to the tip of the tail. With a brownish-olive to gray-green body, males and females do not differ in plumage. The Flycatcher lives in moist microclimatic conditions and breed in dense vegetation near the surface of water or saturated soil.

Green Sea Turtle
Found in the sea-grass pastures of the Gulf of California, the Green Sea Turtle weighs over 700 pounds and is the largest hard shell sea turtle found around the world. The shell of the turtle is wide and smooth and brownish-olive in color. Their finely serrated jaw has adapted for a diet of seagrass and algae. The turtle can live up to 50 years and have a similar lifespan to humans.

Humpback Whale
Found mainly in the North Pacific, Humpback Whales spend summer months off the coast of California feeding on krill, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, capelin and other schooling fish. Adult whales range in length from 39-52 feet and can weigh between 25–30 metric tons! They are known for their distinct body shape, and knobby head.

Peregrine Falcon
The Peregrine Falcon is the largest falcon found in the United States. Their blue-gray coloring and long, pointed wings and tails make them easy to spot in the wild. While Peregrines prefer open habitats like grasslands, tundra, and meadows, but prefer to perch on cliff faces and in crevices. The Peregrine Falcon preys on other birds as well as small reptiles and mammals.

California Condor
Found in rocky, forested regions, the California Condor nests in cliffs caves in the mountains and in the trunks of giant sequoia redwood trees. The condor is one of the largest flying birds in the world and can weigh more than 20 pounds and has a wingspan of 10 feet. Condors prefer the carcasses of large dead animals, specifically deer, cattle, and sheep. They have also been known to eat smaller animals like rodents and rabbits.

Santa Catalina Island Fox
The Santa Catalina Island Fox is the smallest fox species in the United States. Weighing in at no more than 6 pounds, this greyish-white and black fox lives on the Catalina Island and feeds on mice, lizards, birds, berries, insects, and cactus fruit. The foxes prefer the shrubby, coastal scrub, and oak woodlands to build their dens and raise their litters.

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