Belding’s Ground Squirrel

Scientific name: Spermophilus beldingi, (merriam, 1888) It is taxonomic serial no.: 180149. Taxonomy notes: formerly known as citellus beldingi and presents three races c. Beldingi oregonus, c. Beldingi beldingi, and c. Beldingi crebus
Classification: Sciuridae (family) ground squirrels, marmots, and chipmunks
Size: Approximately 23 centimeters. Approximately 246 grams.
Life Span: Males have a life span of three to four years, while females usually live four to six years. 

 

Description:

Belding’s ground squirrel is the reddest colored squirrel of nevada. The tail is considerable shorter than s. Richardsonii in length. The upper parts of the squirrel’s body are gray with reddish brown and a reddish-brown saddle like patch appears on the upper back. On the leg and forehead a dark salmon color is blended with their mostly gray pelage. The belly is a complimentary light gray fur color. The summer fur color is paler and brighter than the winter pattern.

 

Habitat:

Belding’s ground squirrels are most often located in grassy meadows and riparian areas. These squirrels can be found at higher elevations and choose burrowing areas near dense brush, timber and steep hill slides. Burrows of the belding’s squirrel are found in grassy meadows and they avoid marshy areas.

 

Range:

Eastern oregon, southwest idaho, northeast california, nevada, and extreme northwestern utah.

 

Natural History:

Unlike most ground squirrels, s. Beldingi rarely climbs trees or high rocky places. The burrows of these squirrels are more closely knit and dug closer together. Their alarm call is a high-pitched series of rapid trilling notes. These squirrels are best known as a menace begging hikers for handouts and investigating trash bins.

Like many ground squirrels, belding’s ground squirrels hibernate or aestivates (become inactive) depending on food resources. The semi-colonial belding’s ground squirrel has one of the longest hibernation periods (seven to eight months) of any north american mammal. By early august, some adult males have entered hibernation and the females follow in late september. A majority of these ground squirrels appear periodically active during the winter.

 

Food Habits:

Omnivore. Belding’s squirrel forages voraciously in summer on weed and grain seeds, leaves and stems of green plants, and on grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, and other insects. Since food is not stored in the burrow, the massive appetite of these ground squirrels encourage them to feed on green vegetation including all the leaves, flowers, bulbs, roots, etc of the plants. Some squirrels will additionally feed on exotic bulbs and vegetation close to burrow areas. In late summer and fall, they may eat more seeds, berries, and nuts.

 

Breeding:

Each female will give birth to a litter of eight in april. The young are born hairless and their eyes are closed; they remain underground for about 8 weeks.

 

Fun Facts:

The burrows of this species have multiple openings and many chambers.