Animals / Mammal Facts / Rodents - Most Populous Group of Mammals / Squirrels - Big Family of Alert, Short-Faced Rodents / Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel
Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel
Native to the south central Canadian region and central USA, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, also known as the striped gopher, is a rodent that gets its name from what else but the thirteen brown and white stripes that run down its back. It's a fairly small creature, with a length of 6¾ – 12 inches (170 – 297 mm), up to around 16 inches (429 mm) with its tail; and a weight of just 4 – 9.5 oz (110 – 270 g).
The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is most active during daylight hours, and is usually seen in large social groups that lack any sort of real organization or hierarchy. They have very keen eyesight, which is common among ground squirrels. Also like other ground squirrels, it is known to stand up on its rear haunches when it needs to observe its surroundings. They are usually looking for predators like hawks, bobcats, and foxes; and when they see one, they will quickly escape into their burrows. These burrows are known to be as large at 200 ft (60 m) long, and may include multiple chambers.
Thirteen-lined ground squirrels live primarily off seeds, nuts, roots, bulbs, fruits or insects - caterpillars, grasshoppers, and crickets. They have been known to eat bird's eggs and small mice on occasion. Their main line of defense is the ability to detect danger and quickly flee. In fact, they can run up to 8 mph (13 km/h), and can rapidly change direction when evading jaws with scary teeth. Like most burrowing rodents, they little guys can be a problem for gardeners and farmers--eating plants, and digging up holes. However, they are also a benefit, as they eat weed seeds and devour harmful insects. With that said, thirteen-lines ground squirrels live in a delicate balance with humans, but one that has kept the species strong thus far.