ground squirrel


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Wikipedia.

ground squirrel

ground squirrel, name applied to certain terrestrial rodents of the squirrel family. In North America the name refers to members of the genus Citellus and sometimes to the closely related genera Tamias (chipmunk), Cynomys (prairie dog), and Marmota (marmot and woodchuck). Citellus species are found in Asia, E Europe, and North America. In the Old World they are called sousliks. Other ground squirrel genera are found in Africa and S Asia. The approximately 30 North American species of Citellus are found W of Hudson Bay, from the Arctic Ocean to central Mexico. These ground squirrels have rounded heads, short ears and legs, and shorter, less bushy tails than tree squirrels. Their combined head and body length is 41-2 to 131-2 in. (11.4–33 cm) depending on the species; the tail is usually a third to two thirds as long. Most are gregarious, living in extensive underground burrows; they hibernate in colder parts of their range. Members of different species are found in prairie grasslands, arctic tundra, mountain meadows, open forest, desert, and scrub country. In some regions the ground squirrel is called gopher, a name more commonly applied to burrowing rodents of a different family. Primarily vegetarian in their diet, ground squirrels may become agricultural pests, but they destroy insects and mice as well as crops. Their tunnels cause landslides and erosion, but also serve to mix and aerate the soil. Ground squirrels are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Sciuridae.

Bibliography

See J. O. Murie and G. R. Michener, ed., The Biology of Ground-Dwelling Squirrels (1984).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The European ground squirrel needs to get back in good condition after winter hibernation.
Differences in occurrence of vole-sized prey were mainly due to proportions of chipmunks (Neotamias spp.) that were 10 times greater than in the NE Oregon study, and ground squirrels (Spermophilus spp.) in squirrel-sized samples, which were nearly absent in the NE Oregon study.
From our survey, the currently known geographical distribution of the Valle de la Trinidad round-tailed ground squirrel is restricted to Valle de San Matias.
He also hopes it will prompt others to look to natural models, as he and Hallenbeck did with the ground squirrel.
In examining the carcasses collected at the ground squirrel colonies in Oregon, for instance, the researchers found that the vast majority--some 87 to 93 percent--of the shot squirrels contained lead fragments, averaging about 15 fragments per carcass.
Coccidian parasites (Eucoccidia: Eimeriidae) in European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus L., 1766) (Rodentia: Sciuridae) from Bulgaria.
Initial evaluation at Glacier Point revealed several abandoned California ground squirrel burrows in close proximity to pathways and picnic areas.
Thirteen-lined ground squirrel and other ground squirrel mothers start to dissociate from offspring around two weeks post emergence (McCarley, 1966; Dunford, 1977b; Schwagmeyer, 1980; Michener, 1981; Freeman, 2009), and stop alarm calling for offspring around three weeks post emergence (Schwagmeyer, 1980).
"We never observed a ground squirrel kill or injure an adult or juvenile prairie dog," says study coauthor John Hoogland.
Thus present study correlates well with the morphological and histological observations of ovaries in Indian palm squirrel, wild ground squirrel (Citellus dauricus Brandt) and European ground squirrels (Spermophilus citellus) (Seth & Prasad; Millesi et al, 2008; Bao et al, 2014).
The Arctic ground squirrel is the largest ground squirrel in North America and has the most northerly distribution (Fig.
Ilua the ground squirrel loves to relax on the cool tundra and nibble on freshly picked berries.