Unusual features/differences from similar
incisor teeth are white but yellow in ground
The males are larger than the females
Occurs over most of the south west arid zone where
rainfall is 100-500 mm per year, extending eastward to areas
receiving up to 750 mm. They prefer open ground with sparse bush and grass cover
and need hard, compact ground in which to dig burrows.
A wide range of vegetable foods: leaves, flowers, seeds, fruit, berries
insects, especially fond of termites.
Breeds throughout the year mating in October. Gestation 42-49
days and bear litters of 1-4, usually 2. Eyes open at 35 days, first emerges from burrows
after 40 days. Females usually have one litter per year; two if rainfall is very good.
Preyed on by large raptors, jackals, cats and
foxes. Yellow mongooses attack sick or injured ground squirrels.
Behavior and Habits
in the daytime and comes out of the burrow about an
hour after sunrise in summer. When cold in winter, the lie in for an additional
half hour. When it is wet or windy they are less active and they stay underground during sand storms.
They enjoy sunning in cold
weather and lies flat in the shade, flicking sand onto its back. The long bushy
tail is used as a sunshade to prevent over-heating. They dig their own burrows
or appropriate those of
suricates and yellow
mongooses, or takes over and extends whistling rat warrens. Dry grass is
gathered to make nests. Burrows are connected and are constantly modified and
extended. Ground squirrels live in colonies of up to 30.
are made up of females and their young. A single aggressive and dominant female
is most active in
chasing away intruders. Nose-to-nose and anal sniffing are used for recognition.
Disputes occur in which they tail flicks and snarl, and they fight over food or when males visit
them. Home range size is doubledin winter
and spring when food is scarce. They scent mark their area with urine and by pressing the anus to the ground.
Marking is also done by rubbing the of the muzzle on objects
near burrow entrances. Females stay in the colony they were born in but young males
leave and visit female groups for mating and stay only for a short while and then move on to another colony.
Alert and vigilant, they spend a
a large part of their day looking out for danger. Snakes are mobbed
until they leave the area.
They tolerate suricates
and yellow mongooses but drive off slender
mongooses. At picnic sites ground
squirrels become very tame and easy to observe. Ground squirrels respond to the alarm calls of birds.
They make a high-pitched whistling call which rises to a
scream when further alarmed. Also makes 'tschip-tschip' calls when play-chasing and play-fighting.
Dung and Field sign
Pellets of 1.5 cm. Warrens with tunnels about 14 cm wide and 11 cm high.