Desert Cottontail Rabbit

NPS Photo / Warren Tam


Cabrillo National Monument and the Point Loma peninsula are home to several species of mammals. Many species of mammals become active later in the day, especially near closing time – they seem to know when it’s time for visitors to go home and they can regain the park for their nocturnal wanderings. Raccoons make their way around the park at night as well and are efficient predators; they prey on both terrestrial and intertidal organisms. Coyotes are rarely seen here, preferring the northern end of Point Loma.

Cottontails and squirrels are frequently seen throughout the year, and their populations spike after particularly rainy winters; the abundance of flowers and new plant growth makes for easy foraging.

Many bat species visit Point Loma regularly – 11 species in all! Species include the smallest and largest species in North America, the canyon bat and the Western mastiff bat, respectively. Recent research done in the park has revealed that bats may be using the peninsula as a migratory stopover, particularly in the fall. Pocket mice are common and are most abundant during the summer months. The California mouse is the largest white-footed mouse in the country; it is so big that it's often mistaken for a small woodrat.

Non-native mammals include the Virginia opossum and feral and/or free-range cats.

Crawford's Grey Shrew

NPS Photo / Warren Tam

Crawford’s gray shrew (Notiosorex crawfordi):

Seldom seen, the Crawford’s gray shrew has adapted to the dry slopes of Point Loma. The shrew is actually an insectivore, not a rodent – so it is not related to a mouse. Actually, shrews are more closely related to hedgehogs than they are mice. You may have heard that some species of shrews are venomous. This particular species is not. They spend much of their time underground or hunting at night, and they have poor vision, so shrews have an excellent sense of smell, and like bats, can echolocate to get around and find prey.

This species is one of the smallest desert mammals, at birth being about the same size as a honeybee. A baby will reach adult size after about four weeks, when it will be about 2 inches long – including its tail.

Because of their high metabolism, these critters are extremely voracious eaters, needing to consume about 75% of their body weight every day. They will eat a variety of invertebrates, lizards and small mice.

Last updated: June 13, 2017

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