The Ground Squirrel is a small rodent that burrows in the soil to nest and hibernate, creating mounds of soil next to the borrow opening. They prefer to burrow in banks, hillsides and sloping round and open areas free of dense tree cover. They avoid soils with a high water table.
Adults weigh about 0.4 kg with a body length of 25-30 cm and have a 7.5-12.5 cm long somewhat bushy tail. Reddish-brown fur covers the nose, forelegs and hindquarters, and a mixture of gray and brown fur covers the back and tops of the legs.
Columbia ground squirrels emerge from hibernation in March and April, the males emerging 1-2 weeks earlier than the females. Females mate soon after emerging and produce a single litter of four to five young which do not emerge to feed on nearby host plants for about 4 weeks. They are active until August when they line their nests below the frost line with grass in which to hibernate.
They feed on a wide variety of vegetation, preferring the most succulent species available over the summer. Most of their water is obtained from all parts of plants. They do not store food but must consume enough to build up enough fat reserves to get them through their winter hibernation (usually 6-7 months each year).
Ground squirrels damage fruit trees by gnawing bark, girdling trunks, eating twigs and leaves, and burrowing around roots. Borrows around the tree base can damage and dry out roots, and make the trees more susceptible to toppling in high wind gusts. Their dirt mounds can make it difficult to mow and can damage equipment.
Ground squirrels are fed upon by many predators (coyotes, fox, weasels, owls, hawks, eagles, badgers, skunks and snakes) which can help to reduce damage along with other management tactics.
Anytime you need some help with a rowdy rodential resident in your home or around your property give us a call. We can safely and effectively assist you with treatment and make recommendations so that your property does not become infested again.
If Ground Squirrels have become a problem where you are, schedule an appointment with QFI Pest Control.
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