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Growing up in suburban Southern California we didn’t have very many cool creatures in our backyard. Birds were pretty limited to pigeons, crows and sparrows. We had opossums that would show up. Once we had a horny toad show up, that was a big deal. We had a small assortment of bugs but the cool ones were Chinese beetles that were black and iridescent and brown flying June bugs both of which showed up in summer.

In suburban Northern California we have a much cooler assortment of wildlife. Here is one of the biggest surprise ones for me which we discovered live in our backyard when we first moved in and started clearing weeds:
We also have raccoons, blue scrub jays, tons of squirrels (I would trade squirrels for opossums!), and some of the same birds and bugs as Southern California. Once I found a small frog! That was the most exciting. Hands down, the salamanders (aka newts) are my favorite. They are good for the garden eating slugs and snails. They don’t get very big– I found this little one when I uncovered a damp area under our trash cans.

See? A tiny little guy. Since I had my iPhone out I thought I would pull up the fake grass cover that is in this area that covers cement for what used to be our dog area and see if I could find another little salamander to show everyone.

Sure enough this much, much bigger guy was curled up under cover. They look different but I believe they are the same species in different phases. How much bigger is bigger?

I can’t be the only one who is fascinated by these critters. When our neighbor’s house burned down I was worried that a bunch of the salamanders got fried because they live on the side of our yard where the fire was but they made it!

After taking pictures of these guys I made sure they were safely covered again so that they can go eat some slugs and snails!

What kind of creatures and critters do you come across in your area? Do you live in a rural area and contend with deer and gophers? Or do you live in an apartment and have super scary spiders hanging out?