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Mammals are typically found on land, where they resided in the trees, on the ground, or underground. While these are the most obvious places we can find them, some mammals live in the water as well. The hair on mammals plays several important roles in keeping them safe. Not only does hair help keep these warm-blooded creatures warm, but it also allows for many of them to camouflage with their surroundings. Take a look at the different patterns, stripes, and spots on the creatures below to see how well these animals blend in to their habitat. Mammals distinguish themselves from other animals by their incredible brains, which is the most complex organ we know to exist. These brains help mammals to learn and adapt. Additionally, female mammals are the only animals capable of producing milk in order to care for their young. As humans, in Orange County, we often exist alongside other mammals and so we must be conscientious of how we interact with the earth so that we do not accidentally destroy their habitats and endanger their lives.

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Lynx rufus


California Ground Squirrel

Otospermophilus beecheyi

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Mountain Lion

Puma Concolor


Northern Raccoon

Procyon lotor



Canis latrans


Mule Deer

Odocoileus hemionus


Puma concolor

Eastern Fox Squirrel

Sciurus niger

Southern Sea Otter

Enhydra lutris


Bassariscus astutus

Broad-footed Mole

Scapanus latimanus

Virginia Opossum

Didelphis virginiana

Gray Fox

Urocyon cinereoargenteus

Striped Skunk

Mephitis mephitis

California Sea Lion

Zalophus californianus

Pallid Bat

Antrozous pallidus

Ornate Shrew

Sorex ornatus

Dusky-footed Woodrat

Neotoma fuscipes

Western Gray Squirrel

Sciurus griseus

Long-Tailed Weasel

Mustela frenata

Harbor Seal

Phoca vitulina

Big Brown Bat

Eptesicus fuscus

Desert Cottontail

Sylvilagus audubonii

Pacific Pocket Mouse

Perognathus longimembris pacificus

Botta's Pocket Gopher

Thomomys bottae



Birds are specially adapted for flight, characteristic of their feathers, beaks, and pair of wings. 

A bird’s skeletal and muscle structures allow them to fly, with hollow and lightweight bones supported by strong chest muscles. Their wings, which are curved from the front to the back, allow air to push the bird up as it flaps its wings. Some birds are even able to glide, soar, or hover in place using special adaptations. The feathers that cover the bodies of all avian species serve multiple functions, from providing lift and allowing flight, attracting mates, and protecting against water or other contaminants. Like mammals, birds are warm-blooded and will use their feathers in keeping warm. The beaks of each bird species are unique, depending on their diet and lifestyles. They are also known to lay their eggs in nests found high above the ground away from predators, but some are known to burrow underground or on the surface.

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Western Snowy Plover

Charadrius nivosus


Belding's Savannah Sparrow

Passerculus sandwichensis

Eared Grebe

Podiceps nigricollis

Common Poorwill

Phalaenoptilus nuttallii

Brown Pelican

Pelecanus occidentalis

Double Crested Cormorant

Phalacrocorax auritus

Snowy Egret

Egretta thula

Brant Goose

Branta bernicla

Allen's Hummingbird

Selasphorus sasin

House Wren

Troglodytes aedon

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California Gnatcatcher

Polioptila californica


Ridgway's Rail

Rallus obsoletus

Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis

Surf Scooter

Melanitta perspicillata

American Coot

Fulica americana

Western Gull

Larus occidentalis


Calidris alba

Greater Roadrunner

Geococcyx californianus

American Goldfinch

Spinus tristis

Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos


California Least Tern

Sterna antillarum browni


California Quail

Lophortyx californica

Nuttall's Woodpecker

Picoides nuttallii

Western Scrub Jay

 Aphelocoma californica

Song Sparrow

Melospiza melodia

Say's Phoebe

Sayornis saya

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronata

Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor

Bullock's Oriole

Icterus bullockii

Rock Pigeon

Petrophassa albipennis

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey are characterized by their carnivorous diet and the many adaptations that allow them to hunt other small mammals, birds, reptiles, or insects. They have strong hooked beaks that allow them to bite and tear into animal prey. They also have keen eyesight to be able to spot prey from afar, and powerful toes and talons to grasp them.

Birds of Prey
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Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis



Pandion haliaetus

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus


Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus


American Kestrel

Falco sparverius

White-tailed Kite

Elanus leucurus

Northern Harrier

Circus cyaneus



Great Horned Owl

Bubo virginianus


Cooper's Hawk

Accipiter cooperii

Red-shouldered Hawk

Buteo lineatus


These cold-blooded creatures can be found in water or moist environments. These living conditions are essential for their survival as excessive sun and wind exposure can be dangerous to them. Sun can hurt their cells and wind can cause their skin to become dry. These elements will effect their skin that has special features allowing it to breathe and take in water. Most amphibians goes through a metamorphosis of egg to larva to adult. The larva are also known as tadpoles. Eventually they will morph into having limbs and lungs and potentially lose their tails. Once they are adults, they find their way out of the water and can live on land. Keep an eye out for amphibians that are brightly colored as this is an indicator that they may be posionous!

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Western Toad

Anaxyrus boreas

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California Newt

Taricha torosa

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Arboreal Salamander

Aneides lugubris

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California Slender Salamander

Batrachoseps attenuatus

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California Tree Frog 

Pseudacris cadaverina

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Baja California Tree Frog 

Pseudacris hypochondriaca


Lithobates catesbeianus

Arroyo Toad

Anaxyrus californicus


The insects of Orange County come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Each insect in Orange County also lives in their preferred habitat and have evolved to their individual adaptations to survive, compete for resources, and reproduce. These organisms range from being our native pollinators to being invasive species that we commonly see during the warmer months in OC. Though they are small, they are extremely important to the stability of our ecosystem as they often help maintain healthy soil, recycle nutrients, pollinate flowers and crops, and control pests. Learn more about the insects of Orange County below!


Monarch Butterfly

Danaus plexippus

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March Fly

Bibio albipennis

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

Battus philenor

Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly 

Papilio rutulus 

Checkered White Butterfly

Pontia protodice 

Southern Dogface Butterfly

Zerene cesonia 

Sara Orangetip Butterfly

Anthocharis sara

Striated Queen Butterfly

Danaus gilippus strigosus

California Ringlet

Coenonympha tullia 


Periplaneta americana



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California Sister

Adelpha californica

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Yellow Fever Mosquito

Aedes aegypti

Great Basin Wood-Nymph

Cercyonis sthenele

Common Buckeye

Junonia coenia

Mourning Cloak

Nymphalis antiopa

Red Admiral 

Vanessa atalanta

Great Purple Hairstreak

Atildes halesus

Western Pygmy - Blue

Brephidium exilis

Western Tailed - Blue

Cupido amyntula

Leaf Miner Fly

Calycomyza enceliae

Bed Bugs

Cimex lectularius



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Chalcedon Checkerspot

Euphydryas chalcedona

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Black Widow

Latrodectus mactans

Gorgon Copper

Lycaena gorgon


Lepisma saccharinum


Ctenolepisma lineata

Creosote Gall Midge

Asphondylia auripila

Bathroom Moth Fly

Clogmia albipunctata

Dark-Winged Fungus Gnat

Eugnoriste sp.

Crane Fly

Limonia sp.



Human Flea

Pulex irritans


Marine animals in the intertidal zone are those that live where the ocean meets the land. These organisms exhibit a variety of adaptations which determine the depth of the water they reside in. The low intertidal zone is the deepest zone and it typically stays wet even when there is a low tide. The mid-intertidal zone is covered with water during most high tides and is exposed to the air during most low tides. The high intertidal zone is only covered in water during the highest tides, but is exposed to the air most of the time. Lastly, the splash zone is the highest and driest zone and receives its moisture from the ocean spray. Some organisms need more water while others are adapted to drier conditions. These factors, along with competition with other organisms for space, determine which zone an organism will be found. 

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Striped Shore Crab

Pachygrapsus crassipes


California Two-Spot Octopus

Octopus bimaculoides

Black Abalone
Haliotis cracherodii

Eccentric Sand Dollar
Dendraster excentricus

California Mussel
Mytilus californianus

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Ochre Star

Pisaster ochraceus

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Aggregating Anemone

Anthopleura elegantissima

White Abalone
Haliotis sorenseni

California Sea Cucumber
Parastichopus californicus

Rough Limpet
Lottia scabra


California Sea Hare

Aplysia californica

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Wavy Turban Snail

Megastraea undosa

California Aglaja

Navanax inermis​

Pacific Purple Sea Urchin
Strongylocentrotus purpuratus

Gooseneck Barnacle
Pollicipes polymerus


Freshwater animals consist of those which reside in or near our county’s lakes, rivers, streams, and freshwater marshes. These habitats include a variety of animals including fish, rodents, mammals, and birds. They typically consist of relatively shallow waters and are characterized by their low salt content. These areas provide a vital source of water for nearby organisms. Some animals here are adapted to use the water to their advantage by hiding in it to get away from predators while others use their unique coloring that provides camouflage from potential predators. 



Lepomis macrochirus

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North American Beaver

Castor canadensis


Lynx rufus

Great Egret

Ardea alba





Yellow Pike

Sander vitreus

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Black Bullhead Catfish

Ameiurus melas



Esox masquinongy

Whooping Crane
Grus americana


Smallmouth Bass
Micropterus dolomieu

White Crappie
Pomoxis annularis

Yellow Bullhead
Ameiurus natalis

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Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides



Ondatra zibethicus

Downy Woodpecker
Dryobates pubescens

Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias

Northern Pike
Esox lucius

Yellow Perch

Perca flavescens


These reptiles can be found in all habitats across Orange County, from the wetlands to the drier woodlands. Since these reptiles span across varies habitats, they have developed a number of different adaptations to survive. One of the key adaptations that allows reptiles to live on land is the development of scaly skin, which helps in reducing their water loss from the skin. They are cold-blooded creatures, which helps them most to adapt in warmer climates, especially summers in Southern California. Types of reptiles commonly found in Orange County are lizards, snakes, and turtles. Find out more information about them below!


Southern Alligator Lizard

Elgaria multicarinata

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Coast Horned Lizard

Phrynosoma blainvillii (coronata)

Red Racer

Coluber flagellum piceus

Rosy Boa

Lichanura trivirgata

Western Fence Lizard

Sceloporus occidentalis

California Legless Lizard

Anniella stebbinsi

Granite Spiny Lizard

Sceloporus orcutti


Gopher Snake

Pituophis catenifer catenifer


Western Pond Turtle

Actinemys pallida 

Southwestern Threadsnake

Rena humilis humilis

Southern Pacific Rattlesnake

Crotalus oreganus helleri

Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Crotalus ruber

Coast Patch-nosed Snake

Salvadora hexalepis virgultea

Western Black-Headed Snake

Tantilla planiceps

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Orange-throated Whiptail

Aspidoscelis hyperythra


Red Eared Slider

Trachemys scripta elegans

Western Skink

Plestiodon skiltonianus

Two-striped Garter Snake

Thamnophis hammondii

Western Yellow-bellied Racer

Coluber constrictor mormon

Side Blotched Lizard

Uta stansburiana

Green Sea Turtle

Chelonia myda

Click here to learn more about the rest of the animals in this page!

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