The golden-mantled ground squirrel is a small ground squirrel of western Canada and the United States. It is found in southeastern British Columbia and Alberta, southward to New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. Its primary habitat is hardwood forests, meadows, and sagebrush areas of the mountainous regions of the great basin, usually from above 4500 feet up to the timberline.
This is certainly one of the cutest of the squirrels. The golden-mantled ground squirrel resembles a chipmunk, with the two white stripes bordered by black stripes running down its sides. It is also chipmunk-like in size, just slightly larger, measuring only around ten inches long and weighing 6-7 ounces. Unlike chipmunks, this squirrel does not have stripes on its face.
Like other ground squirrels, golden-mantled ground squirrels hibernate through the winter, usually from October to May. They dig burrows deep under a protective object, such as a large rock or a log, and the burrow may stretch up to 100 feet long. These squirrels are not very social. Females and males appear together only during mating in the spring, after which they go their separate ways and the females raise their young alone.
The diet of the golden-mantled ground squirrel is varied, and includes seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. The main food that they enjoy is pinon nuts. They also eat large amounts of underground fungi, which they locate by smell and dig out. When a golden-mantled ground squirrel locates food, it will eat some on the spot, then use its cheek pouches to carry the rest to the den, where it will be stored to eat in the spring when it wakes from hibernation. During the winter, these squirrels will sometimes awaken briefly to eat some of the stored food, then go back to sleep.
During the 1950s, a golden-mantled ground squirrel named Squeak was featured in a nature documentary. The short film shows Squeak, who lived at Crater Lake National Park, being put through a series of experiments to demonstrate the squirrel's intelligence and inventiveness at solving problems to obtain food that is hidden or out of reach.
I would like to thank Delilah the Squirrel on Facebook for bringing my attention to the above video.