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California ground squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi).—Kenneth W. Fink/Root Resources
Any of numerous relatively short-legged, terrestrial rodents of the squirrel family (Sciuridae), found in North America, Mexico, Africa, Europe, and Asia. The name is often applied to chipmunks. Ground squirrels belong to the genera Ammospermophilus, Xerus, Atlantoxerus, and Spermophilus. They live in burrows, sometimes in colonies. Though primarily herbivores, some feed on insects and other small animals and on carrion. Many species collect food, carrying it in their cheek pouches, and store it in their burrows. Those in cold areas may hibernate in winter; those in dry areas may become dormant in summer. Species range from about 7 to 20 in. (17–52 cm) in length, including the tail.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ground squirrel, visit Britannica.com.