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Common Name:
Squirrel - Ground, Richardson's
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Common Name:  Squirrel - Ground, Richardson's

Other Common Names:  Richardsons Ground Squirrel

Scientific Name:  Spermophilus richardsonii  (Full Taxonomy)

Group:  

Origin or Range:  North America

Relative Size:  Larger Than Average  
    (as compared to other rodents)

Average Lifespan:  4 year(s)

Compatibility:  Average   
    (as compared to other rodents)

Category:  Mammals » Rodents
Animal Description:  

The Richardson's Ground Squirrel has often been referred to as the "Flickertail" because of the constant trembling of its tail.

Richardson's Ground Squirrels may be difficult to keep successfully as pets because they have a biological need for hibernation. In the wild the one-year-old Richardson's Ground Squirrel will usually go into hibernation in September. After the first year most will go into hibernation as early as July. As pets most Richardson's Ground Squirrels are not able to hibernate and this can create a lot of health problems. One notable problem in this species is heart problems that are usually associated with non-hibernation. Those who have kept Richardson's Ground Squirrels state that they are very affectionate and playful. They are extremely social creatures and if they are kept in captivity they should be raised in pairs though they can adapt to a solitary lifestyle as long as they receive a significant amount of attention. Most Richardson's Ground Squirrels raised in captivity adapt well to being handle and many seem to enjoy it. Young Richardson's Ground Squirrels are described as gentle and curious. As they mature they are usually very calm and many are so calm that they will sit still while the back of their heads get massaged. The Richardson's Ground Squirrel loves to chew on anything and everything - this needs to be remembered if they are let loose unsupervised. Richardson's Ground Squirrels are reported to respond well to training, and most will learn what "no" means with proper training. The Richardson's Ground Squirrel can and will bite if it is so inclined. They will often growl when upset. If this happens avoid quick movements until it calms down. In addition to warning growls, this squirrel is also known for its chirps and whistles.

The Richardson's Ground Squirrel is usually around eight inches in length from nose-tip to tail-tip and has a weight average of one and a half pounds. They are very similar in appearance to the Prairie Dog; the most separating feature being the Richardson's Ground Squirrel's smaller overall size. They are normally a dark brown to buff yellow in color on their topside with a tan underbelly that displays some red highlighting. This squirrel's ears are extremely short and look like black openings on each side of their head. The Richardson's Ground Squirrel does not have the same mannerisms as the majority of other squirrels. This particular breed usually takes on a more upright posture as commonly viewed in the Prairie Dog, and has a tail that lacks the length and bushiness of common squirrel, but is constantly quivering. Another uncommon feature to this animal that is uncommon among rodents is the lack of a pungent odor. The odor for the Richardson's Ground Squirrel is extremely light and hardly noticeable.

The Richardson's Ground Squirrel is native to the northern and eastern parts of North Dakota. This squirrel makes its home by burrowing into well-drained prairie soil. Most of their burrows are about three and a half inches around and can go about four to feet into the earth. Many of these wild squirrels make their burrows quite close to one another, making them colonial creatures. The Richardson's Ground Squirrel has a very high death rate in the wild. Many are hunted by larger animals once the young venture out to build homes of their own, while others have their burrows exhumed by weasels and snakes.

Specific Care Information: Relative Care Ease: Relatively Difficult

The Richardson's Ground Squirrel is difficult to keep in captivity because of health problems associated with non-hibernation.

The Richardson's Ground Squirrel has a diet that consist of lots of grains, such as oats, wheat, barley, cereal, etc., seeds, and vegetarian products. Nuts, yogurt, or cottage cheese can be used as a nutritious treat a couple of times a week, but not too often as the animal's digestive tract can't handle an excess too well.

Your squirrel's housing should be quite tall and spacious. A three-story ferret cage is highly recommended with various climbing implements, a nesting box with nesting material, and a ferret exercise wheel.

This rodent can be trained to use a litter pan. One should be placed in a corner of its cage to reinforce its use.

This particular breed of squirrel is known to hibernate during the winter months.

No known vaccinations are required for the Richardson's Ground Squirrel, but a veterinarian knowledgeable in the health of squirrels should be sought out in case of emergencies.

Breeding and Propagation: Relative Breeding Ease: Relatively Difficult

The Richardson's Ground Squirrel is sexually mature at approximately one year of age. The female usually bears her young between the months of April and May, in the safety of her burrow or nest. After six to eight weeks, the pups are ready to some out and begin to learn foraging techniques from the adults. In the wild, once a young squirrel leaves the nest, the chance of the pup surviving to the next year is one in four. The average lifespan of the Richardson's Ground Squirrel is three to four years. No information about captive breeding has been found.

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Wednesday, 22 October 2014