Ground Squirrel, a burrowing member of the squirrel family. Some species of ground squirrels are called gophers, although they are not related to true gophers.
Ground squirrels are 10 to 20 inches (25 to 50 cm) long, including their furry tails. They have small, rounded ears. Cheek pouches are used for carrying food. The short legs and claws are adapted for digging. Ground squirrels are brown or yellowish-gray and some species have spots or stripes.
Ground squirrels build burrows and hibernate in them during the winter. Many species live in colonies. Ground squirrels feed on vegetation, seeds, insects, and birds' eggs. The female bears a litter of 2 to 15 young in the spring. The thirteen-lined ground squirrel, or striped gopher, is found throughout the United States and Canada. The Franklin ground squirrel, or gray gopher, is found in the Midwest and in south-central Canada. The Wyoming ground squirrel, also called the picket pin or Richardson's ground squirrel, is found in Wyoming and neighboring states. The spotted ground squirrel is found from North Dakota and Utah south to Mexico.
Ground squirrels belong to the squirrel family, Sciuridae. The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is Citellus tridecemlineatus; Franklin, C. franklini; Wyoming, C. richardsoni; spotted, C. spilosoma. Some biologists classify ground squirrels in the genus Spermophilus.