CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Approximately 11 inches in body length plus a 6-8 inch tail
  • Brownish-gray in color with flecks of a lighter shade and a dark mantle over the shoulders
  • Long, bushy tail
  • Big eyes

HABITAT:

  • Can be found in suburban or rural areas
  • Open areas including fields, pastures, and lightly wooded areas
  • Commonly seen along roadsides or other wide-open spaces
  • Live in burrows made from dirt or soil
  • Can be seen on trees or tree limbs

DIET:

  • Ground squirrels are primarily herbivores and their diet changes with the season
  • Green grasses
  • Herbaceous plants
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Eggs of certain birds

DAMAGE:

  • Can cause damage on many food-bearing and ornamental plants
  • May ruin irrigation lines and sprinkler heads through gnawing
  • Present hazards to machinery, pedestrians, and livestock with their burrowing activity
  • Burrows around trees and shrubs can damage and dry out the plant's roots
  • Can carry diseases that are harmful to humans

CONTROL:

  • Control efforts are highly dependent on ground squirrel activity level, diet, and seasonal change.
  • Destroy old burrows or remove brush to help with re-infestation
  • Trapping (box traps, Conibear traps, tunnel traps, etc.) at or near entrance of their den
  • Fumigation (be aware of non-target species inhabiting inactive burrows) at or near entrance of burrow
  • Toxic baiting (available at county agricultural commissioner's offices or retail outlets) at or near entrance of their home
  • It is best not to feed or play with them because they are capable of carrying fleas, which can transmit bacterium responsible for sylvatic plague in wild rodents and both bubonic and pneumonic plagues in humans
  • Health officials dust the openings of burrows with flea powder to cut the flea population and the possible spread of plague vectors