Wildlife in the Bay Area

In previous posts Cathrin spoke about the many zoos in the Bay Area. Well, for some wildlife you do not have to go to the Zoo. Some creatures live close by and you probably do not even know about it.

I never saw a raccoon in my live, i had to move to the Bay Area to bump into one. I literally bumped into one. One day last summer, I cycled from Menlo Park to Stanford Arrillaga Center and at the corner of Stanford Shopping Center and Quarry Road there was suddenly a raccoon walking on the sidewalk minding his own business. I slumped on my brakes and had a good look at him. He did the same, he had a good look at me….in other words, these creatures are quite used to people. It is as if raccoons and people go shopping together.

After we checked each other out, both of us continued our way. I decided that I quite like raccoons, they are very cute. I saw them on two other occasions in the Palo Alto and Menlo Park neighborhoods. Did you know in German they are called washing bears, because they actually wash all their food before they eat it.

Wikipedia actually says that the sensitivity of their paws is increased if food sampling is performed under water, since the water softens the horny layer covering the paws. However, the behavior observed in captive raccoons in which they carry their food to a watering hole to “wash” or douse it before eating has not been observed in the wild.

I was not that fortunate to see alive skunks or opossums. The only once I saw were dead animals on the 280 Highway. Have you?

The other amazing animal we saw quite a bit in Palo Alto is the deer. It seems as if they mostly (excluding the few casualties on 280) adapted to the urban lifestyle and roam the streets at night. Once we bumped into 3 deers, taking a walk in the streets of Belmont.

We lived for a while in Woodside and we had a beautiful vegetable garden with lots of arugula, carrots and salad. But the deers also enjoyed it. We returned after the fall break to our cottage and all the veggies were gone. All we could see were mysterious tracks in the soil which gave away the identity of the culprits. At least they also had a great xmas feast.

Some of the spouses have been lucky to see bears in Yosemite and even coyotes. I remember one occasion where 3 of our friends walked into a mountain lion. Now that was a special encounter.

So once you moved here, you might think: “this is Silicon Valley, super developed and modern”…but nature is claiming back its own. Be aware : ).

Check out this article in SFGate on other wildlife encounters in the Bay Area. They argue: Berkeley deer are gourmets. “The people with deer problems are the good gardeners. These animals can discriminate. They always take the best stuff.” Another downside to deer: They’re a favorite meal of mountain lions.



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