European ground squirrel

European ground squirrel
European ground squirrel
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Spermophilus
Species: S. citellus
Binomial name
Spermophilus citellus
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Geographic range

The European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus), also known as the European souslik, is a species from the squirrel family Sciuridae and is besides the speckled ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus) the only European representative of the genus Spermophilus. Like all squirrels, it is a member of the rodent order.

Description

The European ground squirrel grows to a length of approximately 20 cm and a weight of between 200 and 400 g. It is a diurnal animal, living in colonies of individual burrows in pastures or grassy embankments. The squirrels emerge during the day to feed upon seeds, plant shoots and roots or flightless invertebrates. The colonies maintain sentinels who whistle at the sight of a predator, bringing the pack scurrying back to safety.

The European ground squirrel hibernates between autumn and March, depending on the climate. In preparation they will build up reserves of brown fat during the late summer.

In early summer, between 5 and 8 cubs are born in one litter.

Spermophilus citellus is whistling

Distribution

It is to be found throughout eastern Europe from southern Ukraine, to Asia Minor, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and north as far as Poland.

References

  1. ^ Coroiu, C., Kryštufek, B., Vohralík, V. & Zagorodnyuk, I. (2008). Spermophilus citellus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 8 January 2009.


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