Rock Squirrel - Spermophilus variegatus
The rock squirrel is a large ground squirrel that is 17-21 inches in length. It is mottled gray on its uppersides with a brownish rump and creamy white on its undersides. It has a long bushy tail with white edges.
The rock squirrel is found in southern Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas and the panhandle of Oklahoma. It is also found in Mexico.
The rock squirrel is found in rocky habitats. It can be found on cliffs, canyon walls, talus slopes, rock and boulder piles and highway fills. It is often seen sitting on or running on rocks. It usually makes its den in a burrow below the rocks, but it may make a den in a tree hollow.
The rock squirrel eats pine nuts, walnuts, seeds of mesquite, cactus, saltbush, agave, wild gourd, cherries, and sumac as well as all sorts of cultivated fruits and vegetables. It also eats insects like grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars. It also eats carrion or dead animals. Although it is a ground squirrel, it is a good tree climber and climbs juniper and mesquite trees to gather fruit. Sometimes it carries food back to its den to store and eat later.
The rock squirrel is diurnal. It is most active in the early morning and the late afternoon. In the northern part of its range and in high elevations, it may hibernate for short periods. The rock squirrel lives in colonies.