Tree Squirrel Ground Squirrels
Class: Mammalia (animal that suckle young with milk)
Order: Rodentia (gnawing mammals)
Family: Sciuridae (squirrels, “scurrying rodents”)
Genus: Spermophilus (seed eaters)
Ground Squirrel General Information
Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel
Ground Squirrels are found in the evergreen forests of North and Central America. They are different from
tree squirrels because they run into their burrows formed in the ground when startled, while tree squirrels run up trees as their name implies. The Ground Squirrel makes its burrow in the ground pushing large hills of dirt and rock onto nearby shrubs and vines destroying them. There are three types of burrows that Ground Squirrels make. Hiding burrows, created for emergency purposes, are short tunnels leading to a dead end and are many in number around the main burrow, nesting burrows are created for females to deliver and raise her litter, and hibernating burrows are used to store food for the winter. These burrows may look similar to the burrows of gophers and moles; however the Ground Squirrel doesn’t leave any dirt around the entrance. They take the dirt created from the burrowing and pat it down tight with their heads and feet. The burrows of Ground Squirrels are about the diameter of a 50-cent piece.
Having a body length of seven to eight inches, Ground Squirrels have four front teeth used for cutting and grinding.
(Largest ground squirrel: Arctic Ground
Squirrel.) They eat vegetables and field crops, grasses, seeds, grains, and nuts. Hibernation for Ground Squirrels usually last five to six months in the winter, when their body temperature drops to a few degrees higher than the temperature outside.
(Longest hibernation: Belding's Squirrel) They wake up once a week for about twelve to twenty hours. If the weather doesn’t get real cold in the winter, these squirrels will skip hibernation. Female adult Ground Squirrels usually deliver seven to eight babies, right after hibernation.
There are many different types of Ground Squirrels found throughout North America. Below is a brief description of each including information on their markings, habitat, eating habits and reproduction information.
Click on the name of any ground squirrel listed for detailed information such as
range, habitat, breeding habits, foods, natural enemies and how to identify each
Squirrels: Grey Squirrel
List of Ground Squirrels Found in North America:
Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel
Often mistaken for other animals.
Arctic Ground Squirrel - Largest
ground squirrel in North America.
Belding’s Squirrels - Has longest hibernation of any North American
California Ground Squirrel -
Sometimes called the Beechey Ground
Rock Ground Squirrel - Closely related to
California ground squirrel.
Franklin Ground Squirrel - Belongs to largest group of mammals in its order (Rodentia) of non-flying mammals.
Richardson Ground Squirrel, a.k.a the Wyoming Ground Squirrel - Sometimes called a gopher or a prairie gopher because of its strong resemblance to the gopher
Columbian Ground Squirrel - Sleeps 7-8 months out of the year in a chamber sealed off from the rest of
its tunnel system.
Townsend Ground Squirrel - Large burrows are created for colonies to stick together, although family and individuals sometimes live in separate burrows.
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