The Round-tailed Ground Squirrel
The Round-tailed Ground Squirrel (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus) is one of the most commonly seen (and heard) mammals at the Wetlands Park, active during daylight hours in spring, summer, and fall.
They are semi-colonial, warning other squirrels in the neighborhood of danger with a single sharp whistle or peep! A warning call sends the neighboring squirrels dashing for the safety of their burrows, but they often will pop up within a minute or two to see what is going on.
The bulk of a round-tail’s diet (about 80%) is green vegetation, though they also enjoy seeds and insects. They often climb into bushes and the low branches of trees to feed on leaves, shoots, and seed pods.
One morning along a Nature Preserve trail I watched a lively competition – a couple of cottontail rabbits, a round-tail, and several quail squabbling for some green mesquite beans that had blown down from the tree. There was some pushing and shoving, and a little dust flew among them. But nobody was harmed in the tussle! – Chris Leavitt, President, Wetlands Park Friends; photo courtesy of Phil Martini