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Urocitellus washingtoni

Washington Ground Squirrel

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae

Image of Urocitellus washingtoni
Spermophilus washingtoni - lower left (with S. spilomosa (center) and S. mexicanus (upper right))
Click to enlarge. (57 kb)

Conservation Status: Near Threatened. One large range has been legally protected.


Since the massive conversion of land in the Columbia Basin to agriculture, the Washington Ground Squirrel has been in decline. During the 1980s, the number of localities where they were known to occur dropped from 179 to 35, all small in size. Because many of these localities are isolated from one another, the species cannot naturally recolonize even the best habitats if a local population goes extinct. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. These ground squirrels are among the smaller members of the genus. Like most other Spermophilus species, they spend as much as eight months of the year underground, estivating to escape summer heat and hibernating to escape winter cold.

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are larger than females.

Length:
Range: 185-245 mm

Weight:
Range: 120-300 g

References:

Howell, A.H., 1938.  Revision of the North American ground squirrels, with a classification of the North American Sciuridae, p. 69.  North American Fauna, 56:1-256.

Links:

Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Urocitellus washingtoni

Image of Urocitellus washingtoni
Click to enlarge. (98kb)