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Critter of the Quarter: California Ground Squirrel

A squirrel peeking out from a burrow in gravelly ground.

The California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) is a common and easily observed ground squirrel in the western United States. The squirrel’s upper body is mottled, with its fur containing gray, light brown, and dusky hairs. Its shoulders, neck, and sides are a lighter gray with whitish fur around the eyes. Its underside is a lighter grayish yellow color. The ground squirrel is about 18 inches from its head to the end of a very bushy tail.

California ground squirrels live in underground burrows, which they excavate. They may live communally, but each squirrel will have its own entrance to the burrow. Mating season is in early spring with gestation around one month for a litter of five to eleven kits. The young leave the burrow around eight weeks of age.

These squirrels are often regarded as pests due to the damage they can cause from their burrowing which can result in severe erosion, crop and plant destruction, property damage, and loss of structural integrity to buildings, roadways, and essential infrastructure.

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