Creature Feature: California Ground Squirrel

(Spermophilus beecheyi)

  • WHAT: A large, ground-dwelling squirrel, also called a "gray digger."
  • Description: Large body colored mainly brown, with light-colored dapples over on the back. A V-shape pattern of light fur from neck to shoulders. Large, bushy tail is edged in white fur.
  • Size: Up to 20 inches, of which about 5 to 8 inches is tail.
  • Habitat: Pastures, rock outcrops and open areas throughout Western Oregon.
  • Oddity: Generally are loners, but can live in loose colonies. When sharing burrows, each adult will have their own entrance. Adults lose half their body mass during hibernation.
  • Diet: Very picky eater. Prefers seeds, stems, leaves, roots and fruits. Daring climber, will ascend 20 feet up trees for food. Keeps a stash of seeds in burrow during hibernation.

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