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Thirteen-lined ground squirrel

The Thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), also known as the Striped Gopher, is a brownish ground squirrel with 13 alternating brown and whitish longitudinal lines (sometimes partially broken into spots) on back and sides creating rows of whitish spots within dark lines. It is a diurnal species and is very active on warm days. It can run at speeds up to 8 mph and will reverse direction if chased.

The length of this animal is between 6.75 and 11.66 inches long with the tail measuring 2.25 to 5.75 inches long. The weight is variable and is 3.75 and 9.5 ounces. In the late summer it puts on a heavy layer of fat and stores food in the burrow for the long winter. Once in the burrow, it curls into a stiff ball and decreases its breath rate from over 100 breaths per minute to one breath every 5 minutes. The squirrel emerges from its long winter den in March or early April.

Primary diet includes grass and weed seeds, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, but may also eat bird flesh and even mice and shrews. This squirrel sometimes damages gardens by digging burrows and eating vegetables, but also devours weed seeds and harmful insects.

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is the namesake of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers teams.

Thirteen-lined ground squirrel


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