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Round-tail Ground Squirrel

Spermophilus tereticaudus

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photo by Mike Plagens at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona.

These are actively digging squirrels found in open, sandy habitats in the Sonoran Desert. They are active during hot weather and mostly inactive during the colder winter months. There are no stripes on the flanks or face. They are sometimes mistakingly identified as gophers or prairie dogs. Gophers do not forage out on the surface and prairie dogs are much larger.

Burrows are frequently located beneath creosote bush. This activity tends to raise the soil level around the bushes and may help the plant by increasing the penetration of rainwater during the rare, brief, thunderstorms. A creosote bush doesn't cast much shade, but round-tail ground squirrels find it suitable.

Sciuridae -- Squirrel Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010