Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

Scientific Name: Spermophilus elegans nevadensis, (kennicott, 1863). It is taxonomic serial no.: 180152. Taxonomy notes: formerly known as citellus richarsonii, spermophilus richardsonii nevadensis, and citellus elegans nevadensis. However, spermophilus richardsonii is a separate species located in south central canada and the dakotas.
Classification: Sciuridae (family) ground squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots
Size: Approximately 25 centimeters. Approximately 260 grams (4.3 ounces).
Life Span: Approximately 4 years and less.



Richardson’s ground squirrels are smoke or yellowish gray with cinnamon tips on each hair. The fur appears to have a mottled or dappled lighter belly with pale feet. The most noticeable feature is the white eye ring, long dark tail. Tail has a border of off-white or light brownish fur. Their nose is a cinnamon and they have larger ears than most of the other species.



Richardson’s ground squirrel are found in the meadowlands of northeastern nevada, open prairies, grasslands, sagebrush areas, mountain meadows, and talus (rocky) slopes.



Idaho, wyoming, and utah. They cross habitat areas with s. Beldingi. Isolated populations are found in northeast idaho, montana, colorado, southeast oregon, and northeast nevada.


Natural History:

While they are most active in midmorning and evening, the richardson’s ground squirrels retire to their burrow in hot weather. Their hibernation is september through january or later into march due to poor weather. Beginning in july, they may also aestivate (become dormant) in the hottest times of the summer. Richardson’s ground squirrels will stuff their cheek pouches with seeds (one animal was found with 162 oat, 140 wheat, and almost 1,000 wild buckwheat seeds), which they store in their burrow and probably eat in spring, upon awakening from hibernation.


Food Habits:

Omnivore. Other than their primary diet of seeds, they will eat a variety of insects, especially crickets, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. Richardson’s squirrels will eat the leaves, and stems of many kinds of plants for water.



Breeding occurs soon after hibernation, mid january to late april. In may, a litter of seven young may be born depending on the female’s health and nutrition.


Fun Facts:

Its calls include cricket-like chirps and trilled chirps. It is difficult to locate this squirrel by its call because of its weak projection and because the animal often calls from the burrow entrance.