Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Scientific name: Spermophilus lateralis, (say, 1823) It is taxonomic serial no.: 180154. Taxonomy notes: formerly known as citellus lateralis, callospermophilis trepidis, citellus chrysoderis, and callospermophilis lateralis quoted with three races
Classification: Sciuridae (family) ground squirrels, marmots, and chipmunks
Size: Approximately 27 centimeters. Approximately 190 grams
Life span: Approximately 4 years and less
Golden-mantled ground squirrel has one white or buff colored stripe down back with a black border and light brown fur surrounding it. Hikers most often photograph the photogenic golden-mantled ground squirrels that beg for trail mixes. They have one molt each year. The belly fur tends to be whitish in some. They are easily confused for a chipmunk, which have stripes on the face. Golden-mantel ground squirrels may be almost twice as big as chipmunks.
The typical habitat the golden-mantled ground squirrel is match with is open forests, rockslides, and sagebrush. Some individuals have been recorded in a wider variety of habitats. Since this species is found in both riparian and desert habitats, the cheeks of these squirrels are often filled with seeds from sagebrush, winterfat, and other desert brush.
Often these squirrels are located 4500 ft to timberline on mountains. They are found in southeastern british columbia and alberta, canada, the western united states, especially in the great basin region.
The golden-mantled ground squirrel hibernates in fall with many layers of fat. They sleep and rear young in underground burrows, which are dug deep under protective object (log, rock, building, bush) if available, or in the open. Many will make extensive burrow systems and the young are born in a nest chamber. Often dens are created around desert springs and irrigated fields. They burrow near rocks and fallen logs. The squirrels carry food in their well-developed cheek pouches to theirs dens to be stored and eaten in spring when they awaken. During hibernation, which usually lasts around october to may, a few individuals awaken periodically to feed.
Many of these squirrels are too concerned with eating and hoarding food and appear asocial as they ignore each other. Males and females are seen together in spring, during courtship, but after mating the males leave and the females raise their young alone. Golden-mantled ground squirrel can chirp and squeal with fright and growls when fighting—but seldom uses them.
Omnivore. Golden-mantled ground squirrel eats a variety of foods including berries, meat baits from hunting traps, seeds, and vegetation. The main diet is seeds, nuts (especially those of the piñon pine), fruits, and insects. The squirrels also digest large quantities of subterranean fungi, which it locates by smell and digs out.
Usually occurs soon after hibernation, mid January to late April. Litter size averages about 6-7. In the lowlands, females usually produce one litter per year. The young are born hairless and their eyes are closed; they remain underground for about 8 weeks.
It cleans its brilliantly colored coat by rolling in dust, then combing itself with its teeth and claws.