Round-tailed Ground Squirrel

Round-tailed Ground Squirrel  

Scientific name: Spermophilus tereticaudus, (baird, 1858)
Classification: Sciuridae (family) ground squirrels. It is taxonomic serial no.: 180160. Taxonomy notes: formerly known as citellus tereticaudus.
Size: Approximately 91 centimeters (7 to 7 ¾ inches) Approximately 148 grams
Life Span: Approximately 4 years and less.



The round-tailed ground squirrel is a small ground squirrel with a long, round tail, long, broad, and hairy hind feet. They have fur of various shades of cinnamon, with drab grayish cast above, slightly paler below. They show no signs of stripes or mottling. The round-tailed ground squirrel has a long, slender, round tail that is cinnamon or drab below. The summer fur color is paler and brighter than the winter pattern. S. Tereticaudus molts two times per year, once in the spring and once in fall.


Round-tailed ground squirrels are found in deserts habitats, especially southern nevada. Extreme temperatures with low humidity normally characterize the round-tailed ground squirrel’s habitat. The round-tailed ground squirrels prefer flat, sandy areas that are typified by creosote scrub vegetation.



Southwest united states and mexico, including arizona, california and northern mexico. They are present in portions of the mojave, yuma, and colorado deserts.


Natural History:

The round-tailed ground squirrel is most active during mornings and evenings, avoiding the most intense heat by retiring to its burrow at midday or seeking shade under a plant. It will climb into bushes not only to obtain leaves, but also to get out of the sun and off the hot sand. This species hibernates from late september or early october to early january, though in some areas it remains active all year. Its burrows have been found among shrubs, and in sand of dunes, especially in areas with dense sand. Tereticaudus communicate using whistles. Their warning is a single whistle and causes the other animals in the area to run to their burrows and then look around. Females will sound warning whistles more often than males.


Food Habits:

Omnivore. The round-tailed ground squirrel diet includes a large proportion of green vegetation, but also seeds, and insects. During the spring, over half their diet is green vegetation, while a quarter are seeds, and a very small proportion is made up of insects. In the summer, all of their diet is composed of green vegetation. In winter, however, their reliance on vegetation drops, and they again use seeds. When these squirrels do eat insects, they consume mainly ants, termites and grasshoppers.



The round-tailed ground squirrel mates in late march or april. The litter size ranges from 1 to 12 young and varies due to the abundance of rainfall and vegetation. One dry year brought average litters of 3.3 young, while a wet year presented an average of 9.


Fun facts:

The round-tailed ground squirrel digs its own burrows or uses old burrows of other species. The entrances are at the base of a bush and are not revealed by mounds since the dirt is scattered.