What is Ground Squirrel?
If you’re a beginner in the world of rodents, you may be wondering: What is a ground squirrel? This article will help you understand this burrowing rodent’s food caches, hibernation period, and more. You can also learn how to spot a ground squirrel with the help of a picture. Read on to find out! After all, you’re about to learn all about this adorable rodent!
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A ground squirrel is one of the most destructive animals in the landscape. It can damage crops, trees, and even the foundations of buildings. They may also gnaw on plastic irrigation lines. While ground squirrels are a nuisance, they can also pose a threat to human health, as their fleas can spread diseases like bubonic plague. Here are some tips on how to get rid of ground squirrels in your yard. Here are some methods that can be used to get rid of them quickly.
The ground squirrel lives on the ground and burrows beneath it. It prefers open fields and pastures, but it is also found in rocky environments. It is commonly considered a pest of livestock in developed areas. These creatures can be found in a variety of climates, from sea level to high altitudes, though the Barbary ground squirrel lives in a rocky habitat at altitudes up to thirteen thousand feet (4000 m).
This burrowing rodent is small and is associated with open habitats in temperate regions of Eurasia and North America. Its burrows are about two to four feet deep and can have multiple openings. These animals may live in colonies of several dozen individuals. In addition to burrows, ground squirrels feed on insects and ground-nesting bird eggs. The ground squirrel has the ability to damage plants and weaken earth dikes.
The most effective way to prevent ground squirrels from reentering a location is to exclude them with fences. These fences should be at least 18 inches tall and six inches deep, surrounded by soil. Trapping is another effective method if you live in an area with small populations of ground squirrels. You can purchase small cage traps at garden supply centers, sporting goods stores, and feed stores. Make sure the trap is baited with oats or grain. Then, set the trap near the ground squirrel’s burrow entrance.
It is possible to measure the overlap between different foodstuffs by observing the location of ground squirrel caches. In one study, Lucy Hopewell observed Greys at an Exeter University campus from October to December 2006. Squirrels were found to spend longer disguising their preferred foodstuffs than their less favorite counterparts. In addition, they also buried food caches close to other squirrels more frequently than they did for items they did not prefer.
Ground squirrels have excellent spatial memory. This ability is evident by their frequent return to their own food caches. They choose locations for food caches very carefully, depending on the landscape, the type of food they are seeking, and other squirrels. If they sense that they are being watched, they will create a false cache. Fortunately, they have good spatial memory and are able to find their caches using smell and memory.
The hibernation period of the ground squirrel is a cycle rather than an annual event. The tiny mammals wake up from hibernation every few weeks to warm up their bodies and keep their brains functioning. They will shiver for twelve to fifteen hours to generate heat and then return to their uber-cold suspended animation. The hibernation period lasts anywhere from eight to ten weeks.
To survive the cold, these creatures turn off most of their bodily functions, including digestion. They stop drinking, eating, and peeing. Their metabolism drops ninety percent, so they need less food and less energy to stay warm. While most humans wake up at dawn and continue to work, the ground squirrel can sleep for several days and still have energy for the rest of the year. It’s amazing to think that this animal survives in such an inactive state year after year, without having to eat, drink, or move a muscle.
Damage to plants
If you want to enjoy your yard and landscaping for years to come, you may need to deal with ground squirrels. These pests are notorious for gnawing through ornamental plants and destroying the bark of trees. They also gnaw through underground wires and other structural elements. Although these animals are nocturnal, they can carry diseases and should not be approached by humans or pets. However, if you have an issue with ground squirrel damage to your plants and landscaping, here are some tips to protect your home from them.
Although ground squirrels do not usually cause extensive damage to your plants in urban areas, they can eat flowering vegetables and sprouting plants. They also can dig up newly planted seeds and weaken earthen dikes. In areas that receive a lot of irrigation, they may damage the earthen dikes and eat the plants in them. Ground squirrels are small, dark-brown rodents with 13 stripes down their back. They weigh between four and five inches and are born in June or May.
The diet of a ground squirrel is fairly varied. Most squirrels naturally seek a well-balanced diet, but they can fall prey to consuming the wrong foods. For example, while they love fruit, they can get too much of it, preventing them from absorbing calcium from it. Fruit is particularly abundant during the spring and summer, when the ground squirrels will be more active and therefore more inclined to eat it.
The Columbian ground squirrel begins to develop fur after four days, and after 13 days, separate their fore digits. By 20 days after birth, infant ground squirrels can walk and climb, and the female gives birth to between three and five young. The young remain in the birth colony until the first winter. The male will leave the birth colony after 50 days. However, female ground squirrels remain near their female relatives, forming lifelong social bonds.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.