We had a very wet winter and spring here in Northern California, ending our long drought. In late June, streams were still running on Mt. Diablo and in Briones, where by summer they are usually completely dry. All the rain washes the bones of dead animals downhill and into the streams, where, if you keep your eyes open, you can find all sorts of fascinating things.

Though we’ve never seen a badger (Taxidea taxus) on Mt. Diablo, we now have some evidence that they live there. One of the interesting bone finds we made this year was a badger skull, nearly complete, with the mandible still articulated, next to Little Pine Creek not far from the north gate of the park. Badgers typically live near communities of prairie dogs, because that’s their favorite food. Though we don’t have prairie dogs on Mt. Diablo, there are extensive communities of similar animals — ground squirrels (Spermophilus beechyi, or Otospermophilus, if you keep up on the latest taxonomy, but hey, we still call the Pacific Tree Frog Hyla regilla because they keep changing its name around!) to keep a hungry badger happy.

 

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