White-tailed Antelope Squirrel
Scientific name: Ammospermophilus leucurus, (merriam 1889) It is taxonomic serial no.: 180181
Classification: Sciuridae (family) ground squirrels, marmots, chipmunks
Size: Approximately 20 centimeters (7 to 7 ¾ inches). Approximately 124 grams (4.3 ounces)
Life Span: Approximately 4 years and less
These western american rodents are characterized by large cheek pouches opening inside their mouths, long tails, and hairy feet. Most are brownish or yellowish-gray with or without light spots, stripes or other markings on the upper back. The summer fur color is paler and brighter than the winter pattern. Most species molt two times per year, once in the spring and once in fall.
Found in a wide variety of habitats. Usually in open areas in many plant communities in all life zones except near arctic. 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.
Many of the squirrels found in nevada are adapted for riparian areas and can be seen in black willow and cottonwood trees. Desert adapted species, such as spermophilus tereticaudus, live exclusively in desert areas of the southwest. Most high desert ground squirrels in are located with stands of sagebrush, shadscale, winterfat, and greasewood.
Most of the ground squirrels are limited the great basin region, but many have adapted for various habitat types and their range extends to more than twenty different states.
These squirrels are best known as an agricultural menace destroying grain and grass. A ground squirrel usually lives in loose colonies with about 1/3 to 3/4 of a population mostly consists of yearlings. Home range usually is less than 50 m across and home ranges overlap.
Many ground squirrels hibernate in some areas. Many however are periodically active during the winter due to low humidity and elevation. Desert adapted squirrels will go into a torpor state for both winter and food deprivation. During warmer months of the year and in good weather, the ground squirrels are diurnal.
Omnivore. During spring and summer, ground squirrels feed primarily on green vegetation: leaves, flowers, bulbs, roots, etc. Some squirrels will additionally feed on exotic bulbs and vegetation close to den areas. In late summer and fall, they may eat more seeds, berries, and nuts. All ground squirrels are advantageous eaters looking for food high in water content which means they also eats insects such as grasshoppers, ants, and termites.
Breeding 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.
Spermophile means “seed lover” in greek.