Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
Search the Archive

  Rodentia · Sciuridae · Urocitellus townsendii
  Smithsonian Institution
  Copyright Notice
  Privacy Notice
 
Urocitellus townsendii

Townsend's Ground Squirrel

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae

Image of Urocitellus townsendii
Spermophilus townsendii - distinguishable from S. mollis and S. canus only by chromosome number and location
Click to enlarge. (91 kb)

Conservation Status: Vulnerable.


Townsend's Ground Squirrel is indistinguishable in appearance from its two closest relatives, Spermophilus mollis and S. canus. All three have plain coats, without spots, stripes or other markings, and all are relatively small, but they have different chromosome counts and are recognized as separate species on that basis. Townsend’s Ground Squirrels are often found on farms, where they are considered pests. They can produce large numbers of offspring. Females have been found carrying as many as 16 embryos. Badgers, which can dig them out when they are hibernating, are the main predator.

Also known as:
Sage Squirrel, Sage Rat

Length:
Average: 212 mm
Range: 200-232 mm

Weight:
Average: 174 g males; 125 g females

References:

Bachman, J., 1839.  Description of several new species of American quadrupeds, p. 61.  Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Part 1, 8:57-74.

Links:

Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Urocitellus townsendii