Animals

Mexican Ground Squirrel: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Mexican ground squirrel facts are in abundant and very cool.
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The Mexican ground squirrel (Ictidomys mexicanus) is a small-bodied rodent found in the brushy, mesquite, and grassy areas of Mexico and the USA. They are distinguishable by their brown fur with nine rows of squarish white spots on their back, as well as the white circle of fur around their eyes. They also have small rounded ears, a white to cream belly, and a long flattened and relatively bushy tail. This ground squirrel is part of the Ictidomys genus of rodents in the squirrel (Sciuridae) family. This species is also known by its synonym Spermophilus mexicanus (Erxleben, 1777).

Read one to learn more and check out interesting facts about mammals like the gopher and woodrat.

Mexican Ground Squirrel

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Mice, insects, and grains

What do they eat?

Omnivorous

Average litter size?

6

How much do they weigh?

6.4 oz (181 g)

How long are they?

7.5 in (19 cm)

How tall are they?

N/A

What do they look like?

Brown with white spots

Skin Type

Fur

What are their main threats?

Humans

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Grassy plains and savannas

Locations

North America

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Scientific Name

Ictidomys mexicanus

Family

Sciuridae

Genus

Ictidomys

Mexican Ground Squirrel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Mexican ground squirrel?

The Mexican ground squirrel is a species of rodent.

What class of animal does a Mexican ground squirrel belong to?

The Mexican ground squirrel (Ictidomys mexicanus or Spermophilus mexicanus) belongs to the Mammalia class of animals, the order of Rodentia, and the genus Ictidomys. This North American genus of rodents in the squirrel family contains a few unique subspecies including the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus), the Rio Grande ground squirrel (Ictidomys parvidens) as well as the Mexican ground squirrel (also known as Spermophilus mexicanus).

How many Mexican ground squirrels are there in the world?

With a large geographic range from northern Mexico, western and central Texas (including the gulf coast), and southeastern New Mexico, the is ground squirrel species are known to be thriving. The exact number of Mexican ground squirrels in the world is unknown.

Where does a Mexican ground squirrel live?

The Mexican ground squirrel has a wide distribution in North America.  They can be found from the savannas of Mexico and the United States, from northern Mexico, the Texas Gulf Coast, Western and central Texas, and southeastern New Mexico.

What is a Mexican ground squirrel's habitat?

Often found in the sandy and mesquite areas of the Savannas, the Mexican ground squirrel lives in a burrow typically found in flat, brushy, or grassy areas, which grows their main food source of seeds and nuts. They also prefer areas with gravelly or sandy soil. Unfortunately, a lot of its original habitat has been destroyed by humans, but this ground squirrel has adapted and can be found in the grassy areas on the sides of highways as well as on golf courses.

Who do Mexican ground squirrels live with?

Mexican ground squirrels (Ictidomys mexicanus) are mostly solitary creatures, although they may live in a colony burrow system. As they are well adapted to digging and burrowing, they will create their home in underground burrows. Each squirrel has more than one burrow which usually has more than one entry. In their life, one burrow will be their permanent homestead, with others maintained as occasional retreats. They become briefly sociable during the breeding season, with most burrows equipped with a sleeping chamber for their young.  

How long does a Mexican ground squirrel live?

The average life span for this ground squirrel (also known as Spermophilus mexicanus) is two to five years.

How do they reproduce?

For these ground squirrels, the breeding season usually occurs over one to two weeks from late March to early April, with a gestation period of 23-28 days. Unlike other species in their genus, females will only produce one litter per year. The average litter size varies in range from two up to 13. Within their burrows, females will also prepare a birthing chamber with grass and mesquite. At birth, a baby ground squirrel is toothless, naked, and blind and will weigh less than 0.2 oz (5.7 g). Young will develop rapidly becoming completely independent within three months. After this, adult males and females will commence their own breeding the following spring.

What is their conservation status?

The Spermophilus mexicanus is listed as a Least Concern species. They are not under threat of extinction and their population is thriving in its southwestern habitat.

Mexican Ground Squirrel Fun Facts

What do Mexican ground squirrels look like?

These unique ground squirrels are a small-bodied species of rodents with predominantly brown fur and nine rows of squarish white spots on their back. With small rounded ears, and white fur around their large brown colored eyes, and a long flattened tail, the Mexican ground squirrel is very distinguishable from other species in its family.

The Mexican ground squirrel, Spermophilus mexicanus, is a species of small-bodied bushy-tailed rodents with nine rows of squarish white spots on its back.

How cute are they?

Like most squirrel species, the Mexican ground squirrel is very cute. They are very small fascinating-looking creatures with small patterns on their body, small rounded ears, and long flat tails.

How do they communicate?

A Mexican ground squirrel, Spermophilus mexicanus, communicates with visual and acoustic channels. When in defensive mode, this ground squirrel will voice a shrilled whistle call, lie on its side, and grind its teeth. They also communicate through touch, smells, and other chemicals.

How big is a Mexican ground squirrel?

This squirrel is considered small to medium-sized in comparison to other species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. At 7.5 in (19 cm) in length, the Mexican ground squirrel is three times the length and 11 times the weight of an African pygmy squirrel (Myosciurus pumilio) the smallest squirrel species in the world. In the genus of ground squirrels that occur in Texas, Spermophilus mexicanus is the second-largest of the four species, closely behind the rock squirrel. Also from the family Sciuridae, the rock squirrel measures a much larger 21 in (53 cm) in length.

How fast can a Mexican ground squirrel run?

Like all ground squirrels, the Mexican ground squirrel (also known as Spermophilus mexicanus) is a very nervous and quick-moving animal. By nature, they are fantastic runners and like other squirrels can run up to speeds of up to 20 mph (32 kph).

How much does a Mexican ground squirrel weigh?

The average adult Mexican ground squirrel weight is 6.4 oz (181 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The names for male and female Mexican ground squirrels are simply female and male Mexican ground squirrel.

What would you call a baby Mexican ground squirrel?

A baby Mexican ground squirrel, Spermophilus mexicanus, is called a baby squirrel or young squirrel.

What do they eat?

The Mexican ground squirrel is omnivorous, feeding on a range of both animals and plants found in their grassy and mesquite habitat. They mostly gather their food on the ground, which primarily includes seeds, nuts, and grains as well as roots, bulbs, plant stems, leaves, mice, insects, and eggs. They are very active and will collect and store food in their cheek pouches, which are brought back to their burrows to eat later. Their diet will also change according to season and habitat. For example, research has discovered that the spring diet of this ground squirrel is distinctly herbivorous, whilst half their diet in early summer is mainly insects found in their burrows. These squirrels have also been seen eating roadkill on the side of highways.

One of their known predators is in the Western diamondback rattlesnake

Are they dangerous?

This animal is a wild species so it can be aggressive by nature. There are some parasites associated with this ground squirrel species, including mites, fleas, spirochaete, and nematodes. For farm and golf course owners, these squirrels can cause considerable damage through their burrowing and digging. Their preferred diet of grains, seeds, roots, bulbs, plant stems, leaves, mice, insects, nuts, and fruits can also compromise the crops of farmers.

Would they make a good pet?

Although this animal has adapted quite well to life with humans and is very cute, like most squirrels, they would not make good pets, especially if you try to steal their seeds, nuts, or other food. Mexican ground squirrels specifically are wild animals, and therefore extremely active and can be aggressive.

Did you know...

Throughout northern parts of their range, such as Texas, Mexican ground squirrels do enter hibernation.

As the Mexican ground squirrel is omnivorous, they usually eat mice insects, and eggs and have been seen eating roadkill on highways (however they do not have cannibalistic tendencies).

They have evolved interestingly to withstand one of their main predators, the Western diamondback rattlesnake, by neutralizing its hemorrhagic activity and therefore develop a resistance to its venom.  

Throughout the summer months, this species is economically beneficial to society as they naturally control the insect population  (part of their diet) effectively reducing the cost and need for expensive and harmful pesticides.

How can you tell the difference between a Mexican fox squirrel from a Mexican ground squirrel?

You can tell the difference between a Mexican ground squirrel and their related Mexican fox squirrel by their physical look and size. Unlike the Mexican fox squirrel, this squirrel has brown fur with unique rows of white spots on its back with a long flattened tail and an average length of 11-15 in (27.9-38.1 cm). The Mexican fox squirrel is much larger, measuring an average 19-24 in (48.3-70 cm), with a distinct yellow bushy tail with a brown-yellow to reddish body.

Is the Mexican ground squirrel endangered?

The population of Mexican ground squirrels remains steady and thriving in their broad distribution, making them the least concern on the endangered species list.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our fox squirrel facts and American marten facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable gray squirrel coloring pages.

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