Belding's ground squirrel


Bel·​ding's ground squirrel ˈbel-diŋz- How to pronounce Belding's ground squirrel (audio)
: a ground squirrel (Spermophilus beldingi synonym Urocitellus beldingi) of the northwestern U.S. that typically lives in large colonies in alpine meadows and that is grayish with a broad, brown band extending along the center of its back
Classic studies beginning in 1977 showed that female Belding's ground squirrels sound alarms or defend burrows to help their mothers, sister, or daughters.Susan Milius, Science News, 30 Mar. 2002

Word History


after Lyman Belding †1917 American naturalist and ornithologist

Note: The vernacular name is based on the taxon, originally Spermophilus beldingi, assigned to the animal by the zoologist and ethnographer Clinton Hart Merriam (1855-1942) in "Description of a New Spermophile from California, Spermophilus beldingi, sp. nov." ("Read December 17th, 1888"), Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 4 (1887-89), pp. 317-21. Merriam's description was based on a specimen sent to him by Lyman Belding "from the summit of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Placer Co., California"; he goes on to say "I take pleasure in naming it in honor of its discoverer, Mr. L. Belding, of Stockton, California, whose contributions to the knowledge of the zoology of the region, particularly its ornithology, entitle him to lasting remembrance" (p. 317).

First Known Use

1918, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Belding's ground squirrel was in 1918

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Dictionary Entries Near Belding's ground squirrel


Belding's ground squirrel


Cite this Entry

“Belding's ground squirrel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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