science education resource

For K-12 Students • Educators • Homeschool Families • Naturalists

Ground Squirrel (Spotted)

To view these resources with no ads please Login or Subscribe (and help support our site).

Spermophilus spilosoma
Ground Squirrel (Spotted)


They are found in western North America from southwestern South Dakota south through Nebraska, Wyoming, eastern Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into central Mexico.


They live in dry, sandy habitats – desert, scrublands, arid grasslands and pine woods. They also make use of land that has been grazed over by cattle and sandy roadsides.

Body Traits

They are small ground squirrels only reaching about 10 inches (25 cm) long. They are grayish-brown with light spots on top. Underneath they are white. The tail has a black tip and is golden to rust-colored underneath. They have small ears and large eyes ringed in lighter fur.


They are active in the morning and late afternoon (crepuscular). They come out of their burrow and sit in the sun, groom their fur, feed and explore. If they feel threatened by the approach of a predator, they will stomp their back feet. During the heat of the day, they rest inside their burrow. In their northern range, they hibernate in the colder months.


They mainly eat seeds and plants, but will also take grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars. Rarely, they may eat lizards and smaller rodents. They do not need to drink water daily.


They are killed by hawks and snakes.

To view these resources with no ads, please Login or Subscribe (and help support our site).


Females are pregnant for 2 weeks (gestation) and give birth to 5-7 young. They are weaned after 2 weeks and are out on their own by 3 weeks old.

Ground Squirrel (Spotted)


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Sciuromorpha
Family: Sciuridae
Subfamily: Xerinae
Genus: Spermophilus
Species: S. spilosoma

Citing Research References

When you research information you must cite the reference. Citing for websites is different from citing from books, magazines and periodicals. The style of citing shown here is from the MLA Style Citations (Modern Language Association).

When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access < URL >.

Here is an example of citing this page:

Amsel, Sheri. "Ground Squirrel (Spotted)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. March 28, 2023
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.