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No Lions, No Tigers, Some Bears. The Nat Details San Diego’s Mammals

A long-tailed weasel in an undated photo.

Credit: John Mitchell

Above: A long-tailed weasel in an undated photo.

No Lions, No Tigers, But Some Bears. The Nat Details San Diego's Mammals


Scott Tremor, mammalogist, San Diego Natural History Museum


San Diego is the most biodiverse county in the United States. That means on top of the dolphins and bighorn sheep, there are a lot of rats and bats. The county is home to 36 species of rodents, along with 22 different types of bats.

“I could change your mind in three minutes on some rodents in the field,” San Diego Natural History Museum mammalogist Scott Tremor laughs. “Kangaroo rats are just not bitey animals. They’re beautiful, very soft animals. They will sit in your hand for minutes at a time.”

Tremor is the lead author of the San Diego County Mammal Atlas, a book detailing the more than 100 species of mammals that live or have lived here. And yes, he is a rodent specialist.

The Nat has already put out similar works about birds, plants and lizards, but the atlas on mammals took much longer. The book is the product of nearly two decades of research, detailing not just what scientists know about these animals, but highlighting what they still need to learn. Mammals, Tremor says, have been underrepresented in San Diego’s conservation plans so far.

“If you think of birds, your grandparents have always had binoculars. There’s a huge following of birders. We had 300 volunteers for the bird atlas,” Tremor said. “There’s a subculture of people who like to catch lizards and snakes. For mammals, it’s different. You just can’t get volunteers to get people to help capture rodents or bats.”

Tremor joins KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday with to discuss some of the surprising discoveries documented in the book.

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