Belding's ground squirrel
A small ground squirrel that spends half the year hibernating underground and the other half feeding on grasses and seeds.
2-4 years with males living 2-3 years and females 3-4.
A small ground squirrel with a short tail and very small rounded ears. The fur is short all over and uniformly brown with slight pale markings around the eyes.
Far western USA (California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho).
Grasses, flowers and seeds with occasional birds' eggs and carrion (and sometimes each others' young).
Belding's ground squirrels spend the day above ground during the summer (from May to October) and hibernate during the winter in their underground burrow systems. Females share their territory with related females, and co-operate to defend it and raise the alarm if a predator is seen.
Males emerge from hibernation just before the females, often when there is still snow on the ground, and defend small territories against other males. Females will mate with several males and then dig her own nest burrow and line it with dried grass. She gives birth after 24 days to about 5 pups, which she weans after 27 days. They then emerge above ground. Male pups disperse at this point whilst female pups usually stay in the mother's territory. The adult males re-enter hibernation in the late summer - sometimes before the young have even emerged from their nest. The adult females start to hibernate in early autumn, and the pups finally hibernate at the beginning of October once they have put on as much fat as they can for their risky first hibernation.
Not thought to be under threat.
They have a range of different calls for different degrees of danger. A high-pitched whistle for a hawk or a staccato trill for a ground-living predator.