Friday, February 3, 2012

Squirrels of Texas: The Mexican Ground Squirrel

In a few months we will be moving to Texas--specifically, my hometown of Lubbock--where the job opportunities look better than here in North Carolina. So I thought I would take some time to look at the squirrels that make the Lone Star State their home.

The Mexican ground squirrel is a small ground squirrel, 11-15 inches in length, that lives in brushy and grassy areas throughout much of western and southern Texas. It has a brown back and sides, with nine rows of squarish white spots running down the length of its back. The underparts are whitish or buff. Its ears are short, and its medium-bushy tail is about two-fifths the length of its body.

"Mexican ground squirrel" sounds like the name of
a spicy ethnic dish, but don't even think about it!

Although Mexican ground squirrels live in burrow systems, unlike many ground squirrels this species is not social. Individuals, preferring privacy, do not allow intruders close to their burrows except during breeding season. One squirrel may dig several burrows, one for its residence and the others for temporary refuge from predators. The burrow has two entrances, and the deepest part of the residence tunnel is used for giving birth and caring for young. The birth chamber is lined with mesquite and grass, and houses a litter that averages about five--but sometimes as many as ten--babies.

Their food is mostly green vegetation, including mesquite leaves and beans, agarita leaves and berries, johnson grass, clover, various roots and bulbs, nuts, and cultivated grains when available. These squirrels will also eat insects, especially in the summer when they may make up half their diet, and sometimes mice and birds' eggs. They will often store seeds and grains in their cheek pouches so that the food can be eaten later in the burrow.

Get off my property!

1 comment:

  1. Good luck in Texas, I hope you will keep on blogging.