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Richardson's Ground Squirrel

Category: Squirrels

Description

Ground squirrels measure between 9 to 11 inches, while their semi-bushy tail adds another 5 to 9 inches in length. They are brownish gray in colour and speckled with off white along the back; the sides of the head and shoulders are light gray to whitish.

Habits

Richardson Ground Squirrels are generally active during the day in spring and summer months. Females tend to be territorial and will defend their nesting sites. They are mainly found in the southern areas of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Ground squirrels have two periods of dormancy during the year. During winter months most ground squirrels hibernate, but some young can be active at this time, particularly in areas where winters aren’t severe. During the hottest times of the year most adults go into a period of inactivity that can last a few days to a week or more. During these periods, the burrow appears open at the entrance, but the squirrel plugs it with soil near the nest.

  • Feeding: Richardson Ground Squirrels are herbivores. This means they eat just grasses and plants. As the season changes they will move to seeds, grains or other plant material and store them in their burrows for the hibernation over winter. Ground squirrels usually forage close to their burrows. Their home range typically is within a 75-yard radius of their burrow.
  • Hibernation: Richardson Ground Squirrels start hibernation as early as July and up to as late as September. Males are first to emerge from hibernation in March, followed by females a couple of weeks later.
  • Nesting: As the spring time temperatures creep up and the ground gets warmer, mounds of dirt start appearing in fields, backyards, or ditches. Their burrows and range is small and there can be many mounds in fields and open spaces, as they like to see any predators coming.
  • Reproduction: Females produce one litter per year, with an average of 6 – 8 young. The young, are born in April or May. Young ground squirrels remain underground in the burrow until they are approximately 30 days old, emerging from burrows late May to mid-June, weather dependent. At six months, young resemble adults.

Control

Controlling Richardson’s Ground Squirrels can be done by registered rodenticides, trapping, asphyxiation via Giant Destroyers, or by shooting.

  • Rodenticides are various types of baits that the ‘gophers’ can feed on in their burrows. An effective tool in non-residential areas as the bait is inside the hole and the hole is covered up to see if the bait worked or not if the hole is dug out.
  • Trapping is another method that will reduce ‘gophers’ in areas that are not of a fine turf area. The gopher will be trapped inside the hole. Frequent inspections are necessary to use this type of method.
  • Asphyxiation via Giant Destroyers.
  • Shooting can also be effective for removing rodents but only where it is lawful.

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