Ground Squirrel *Spermophilus
playful little critters make their homes in the ground as well
as within rock piles They can be found in most of the meadows
and hill sides within the Rocky Mountains.
Spring time brings this playful rodents out of their hibernation
and almost immediately into their mating period. You will often
see two ground squirrels running after each other between their
ground holes. They have many predators, owls, hawks, bobcats,
coyotes among others. Ground squirrels are always on the alert
for danger. When alarmed, they emit a sharp squeak like whistle,
warning the other's in their community.
Ground squirrels hibernate during the colder months, alone
in a special chamber called a hibernaculum. The hibernaculum
chamber is constructed off the main burrow system. The connection
to the main chamber is plugged off with soil when the animal
enters it's hibernation. The hibernaculum system is a fairly
closed system consisting of the hibernaculum chamber, a drain
tunnel to remove moisture, and an exit tunnel that extends
almost to the surface. In the spring, the animal emerges above
ground by burrowing the exit tunnel to the surface.
Hibernaculums are filled with grass for bedding
in which the ground squirrel curls into a ball with its nose
tucked between the hind legs. The animal then enters a state
of torpor. Hibernation lasts from 7 to 9 months.
Ground squirrels feed mostly on a variety of
local seeds and fruits, although given the chance, most will
eat flowers, buds, leaves and also insects.
the Ground Squirrels of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado