Local Wildlife

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Scientific Name: Spermophilus lateralis
More Info: Univ. of Michigan

The golden-mantled ground squirrel is a small chipmunk-like squirrel with grayish-brown fur on its back and two white stripes bordered by black stripes on its sides. Its underside is lighter, its head is a copper-red, and (unlike the chipmunk) its face is not striped. Their primary diet consists of seeds, fruits, pine nuts, mushrooms, insects, fungi, and assorted vegetation.

These squirrels can be found in coniferous and mixed coniferous-hardwood forests. They are also common in mountainous areas, rocky meadows, and sagebrush areas. They can be seen from dawn to dusk in any of the forested areas of Sunriver. Look for them on or around large rocks or rock outcroppings, stumps, or logs, in or near trees, or around man-made items that offer protection such as decks, wood piles, and such.

The Golden-mantled ground squirrel nests in a burrow (often under a rock or log) lined with dried grass, leaves, and shredded bark. These underground homes, which can stretch as long as 100 feet, are used to store food and to provide protection. After adding a layer of fat in the early fall, October through May are spent in hibernation. In most years, the squirrels remain dormant during the winter without interruption. However, they may "wake" and eat during periods of severe cold to avoid freezing to death.

Golden-mantled ground squirrels are less sociable than other ground-dwelling squirrels. They generally ignore each other except in late spring during courtship. After mating, the male leaves and about a month later the female will have a litter of between four and six babies which she will raise alone. Females may produce one or two litters per year with most births occuring during May and June.