World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Merriam's ground squirrel

Article Id: WHEBN0012529102
Reproduction Date:

Title: Merriam's ground squirrel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Townsend's ground squirrel, Urocitellus, Ground squirrels, Sciurotamias, Taurus ground squirrel
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Merriam's ground squirrel

Merriam's ground squirrel
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Urocitellus
Species: U. canus
Binomial name
Urocitellus canus
(Merriam, 1898)
Synonyms

Spermophilus canus Merriam, 1898
Spermophilus vigilis Merriam, 1913

Merriam's ground squirrel (Urocitellus canus) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. It occurs in the states of Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon in the United States.[1]

Description

Merriam's ground squirrel is a small, grey, ground squirrel with a relatively nondescript appearance. Adults range from 18.8 to 21.8 centimetres (7.4 to 8.6 in) in head-body length, with a 3.1 to 5.0 centimetres (1.2 to 2.0 in) tail. Although their weight varies throughout the year, depending on nutrition, typical adult weights of 144 to 210 grams (5.1 to 7.4 oz) have been recorded for females, and 146 to 300 grams (5.1 to 10.6 oz) for males.[2]

The fur is short and lacks any distinctive markings such as stripes or spots. It is greyish buff over most of the body, and pale buff to white on the underparts. The tail is relatively short and narrow compared with most other related ground squirrels, and the ears are small. However, it can only be reliably distinguished from Townsend's ground squirrel and the Piute ground squirrel by genetic testing, and, for a long time, these species were not considered to be separate.[2]

Distribution and habitat

The species is found throughout much of Oregon, although not in the northern and western regions of the state. Some populations extend south of the state line into the extreme north-eastern corner of California and the extreme north-western corner of Nevada, while other populations extend along the west bank of the Snake River into western Idaho.[2]

Two subspecies are generally recognised:

  • Urocitellus canus canus - Oregon, California, Nevada
  • Urocitellus canus vigilis - Snake River region (eastern Oregon, western Idaho)

The native habitat of Merriam's ground squirrel is arid chaparral environments dominated by sagebrush, and, to a lesser extent, by greasewood and shadscale.[3] It is sometimes found in marginal juniper woodland and can be common in man-made pasture and fields.[2]

Behavior

Merriam's ground squirrel is a diurnal omnivore, feeding on a wide range of seeds, roots, and bulbs, as well as on insects, such as cicadas.[4] Although relatively little of its native habitat has been converted into farmland, where it does inhabit agricultural land, it may eat domesticated grains or alfalfa, and be considered as a pest. Known predators include barn owls and great horned owls, and presumably also include hawks, snakes, and various carnivorous mammals.[2]

They construct burrows, and rarely wander far from their entrances, typically having a home range of less than 1 hectare (2 acres). They spend most of the year hibernating; although there is some variation with local habitat, they generally emerge in early March, and become dormant again in early August. They give birth to a single litter of up to ten young each year in late April or early May.[4] The gestation period and duration of weaning are unknown, but are probably each in the range of three to four weeks.

They are quiet and secretive animals, with a shrill, squeaking, alarm call, and have been observed to climb low bushes in search of food and to be good swimmers.[2]

References

  1. ^ a b Yensen, E. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) (2008). Spermophilus canus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cole, F.R. & Wilson, D.E. (2009). "Urocitellus canus (Rodentia: Sciuridae)". Mammalian Species 834: 1–8.  
  3. ^ Feldhammer, G.A. (1979). "Vegetation and edaphic factors affecting abundance and distribution of small mammals in southeast Oregon". Great Basin Naturalist 39 (3): 207–218. 
  4. ^ a b Bailey, V. (1936). "The mammals and life zones of Oregon". North American Fauna 55 (1): 155–158.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.