Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Squirrel Facts: The Barbary Ground Squirrel

The Barbary ground squirrel is a squirrel of northwestern Africa, where it inhabits dry scrubland, grassland, and rocky areas up to an altitude of about 13,000 feet. The only squirrel in Africa north of the Sahara desert, it is native to Morocco and Algeria, and has also been introduced to the Canary Islands. Its body measures about 6-9 inches in length, with a bushy tail that is about as long as the body.

This squirrel is grayish brown or reddish brown in color. Its most recognizable feature is a white stripe running down each side of the body, and sometimes a stripe running down the middle of the back. The belly is a pale gray, and the tail has gray and brown bars. It prefers to live in rocky environments, where it may burrow in the ground or make nests within the crevices of large rocks. Like most ground squirrels, Barbary ground squirrels live in colonies made up of multiple families.

This squirrels are sociable, and can frequently be seen foraging food in the morning and evening hours. In areas frequented by humans, they show little fear and will often eat from people's hands. They are primarily herbivores, and their favorite food is the olive-like fruit and seeds of the argan tree. While plentiful in any areas where the source of this food is secure, if there is a food shortage these squirrels will migrate to another area. Barbary ground squirrels may breed twice a year, with up to four young in a litter.

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