They are found in western North America from southwestern South Dakota south through Nebraska, Wyoming, eastern Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into central Mexico.
They live in dry, sandy habitats – desert, scrublands, arid grasslands and pine woods. They also make use of land that has been grazed over by cattle and sandy roadsides.
They are small ground squirrels only reaching about 10 inches (25 cm) long. They are grayish-brown with light spots on top. Underneath they are white. The tail has a black tip and is golden to rust-colored underneath. They have small ears and large eyes ringed in lighter fur.
They are active in the morning and late afternoon (crepuscular). They come out of their burrow and sit in the sun, groom their fur, feed and explore. If they feel threatened by the approach of a predator, they will stomp their back feet. During the heat of the day, they rest inside their burrow. In their northern range, they hibernate in the colder months.
They mainly eat seeds and plants, but will also take grasshoppers, beetles and caterpillars. Rarely, they may eat lizards and smaller rodents. They do not need to drink water daily.
They are killed by hawks and snakes.
Females are pregnant for 2 weeks (gestation) and give birth to 5-7 young. They are weaned after 2 weeks and are out on their own by 3 weeks old.
Species: S. spilosoma
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