Being surrounded by many square miles of wilderness, Rancho Carrillo is awash with a diverse range of wildlife. Below are some of the more noteworthy neighbors we live with, along with the view of some residents (which sometimes do not correlate with 'official' views!).

These pictures are mostly from in and around RC or surrounding areas.

If you have corrections or experiences to share on this page, please let us know by emailing web@ranchocarrillo.com

Scar; Photo by Jason Andes

Mountain Lion

Mountain Lions have a very large territory, and are seen and heard in and around RC regularly. Usually, they stay away from our homes and do a good job of keeping the deer population in check. However, from time to time, they will venture closer and kill & eat pets and livestock.

It is our experience that once a mountain lion gets a taste for the easy pickings of sheep, goats, chickens, small dogs and domestic cats; they don't go back to their natural prey, and will continue to take domestic animals. Typically we experience an individual problem animal like this once every few years.

Before dusk, make sure your vulnerable animals are not accessible.

Bobby; Photo taken in RC


For the most part, bobcats are beneficial. They typically feed on small mammals such as our ever prevalent ground squirrels or rabbits.

They have a small territory, and it is common to find one living and hunting in a small area of RC for many years, with no sightings elsewhere.

They are usually skittish and avoid human contact.

Although possible, they do not typically kill domestic animals, and none are known to have occurred in RC.

Wylie; Photo taken in RC


Sometimes loners, sometimes in packs; coyotes compete with bobcats for the same food source, and will frequently take domestic animals including cats, small dogs and chickens & ducks.

They form part of the delicately balanced ecosystem, but are not often viewed favorably.

Derek; Photo taken in RC


Highly destructive to your garden, fruit trees and ornamental bushes, deer will take everything you have. They seem to have a 'generational' memory, whereby subsequent generations learn the prized locations from their ancestors!

Being herbivores, they are at the bottom of the food chain and keep the mountain lions well fed.

Some people like to see them, for others it is a constant battle to defend their gardens.

They have been known to jump fences as high as 7ft, and squeeze under gates as low as 10". Deer-proof garden fence is no mean feat!

Scott; Photo by Alice Abela

Ground squirrel

Also highly destructive to your garden, ground squirrels burrow deep, and will strip your fruit trees bare.

They live in large underground colonies and create holes and dirt mounds which are both unsightly, and unstable especially for horses.

Outdoor/barn cats and domestic dogs usually keep them off your property; as such you will often see them living around the edges of properties with dogs.

You will almost never see them living in horse pastures, likely due to the heavy footfall.

Jeremiah; Photo source unknown


Living primarily underground, (pocket) gophers attack the roots of your plants and root vegetables.

They are difficult to trap, and a single animal can carry out a substantial amount of garden damage over a long period of time.

Bury your plants in hardware-cloth cages to defend against gophers.


Usually harmless (except for the obvious!), but sometimes they will break in to a chicken coop and make a kill. More often, they will come sniffing around your patio looking for cat food (a favorite).

Contrary to many beliefs, they do not spray without good reason. Like most animals, their response is most likely when cornered.

Black Widow

Very common in this area, they are (contrary to popular opinion) net very dangerous. They are not aggressive and go out of their way to avoid human contact.

Bites almost always occur only when the spider is squashed, so avoid reaching in to places you can't see.

They usually live close to the ground, and seem to like corners the best.

Paul; Photo taken in RC

Gopher snake

A very welcome partner in the battle for the garden. Gopher snakes do no harm whatsoever, and keep on top of the destructive gopher population. Their presence should be welcomed.

Sometimes dogs disagree and will kill them.

Sith; Photo from the internet


Although less beneficial and potentially dangerous, rattle snakes typically do not bite unless provoked. There are of course different views on how best to deal with them on your property, but often times they will move on of their own accord.

Know your snakes. Look for the shape of the head.

Tracy; Photo source unknown


Each fall we see many tarantulas wandering the community. They can live up to 25 years, so there is a good chance you'll see the same one repeatedly.

They are totally harmless, and have not venomous to people. Although best left alone, if you pick one up and handle it gently, no harm usually occurs.