Cute Cute! Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels (Gopher, Striped Ground Squirrel, Striped Gopher, Thirteen-lined Gopher, Striped Spermophile), they are not tree squirrels or chipmunks, but closely related. These guys are often seen standing on their hind legs on right of ways or other places where the grass is mowed. The squirrel’s coat pattern is distinctive, with 13 dark and pale stripes running the length of its back; with white spots in the dark stripes.
Ground squirrels possibly once lived in a short-grass prairie and now our lawns are where they like to live. They dig a variety of tunnels, from short ones used for escape to deeper, longer ones with nesting/hibernation chambers. This usually gets them on the shit list with homeowners that want a perfect lawn. They also sometimes damage gardens by digging burrows and eating vegetables, but they also eat weed seeds and harmful insects. I like coexistence…. Unless you cross into MY small and humble ‘house-space’.
These little cuties are in a brick flower planter built into my workplace’s garage. I’m pretty sure I have counted six of these little guys in there. When they were smaller, they fell out of the planter often and would need to be put back in there as it is quite high for them, but not an adult. I’ve not seen an adult enter the nest through the top, however it is possible it has another entrance somewhere else… Oh, JOY!!! I’ve not gotten any flack about feeding the birds or tree squirrels here at work, however these guys have passed the ‘house-space’ zone. In a week or so, I’m sure they will be a mature 28 days+ and at the normal time youngsters leave the nest. Sadly, these cuties are getting the HUMANE kick to the curb. I will be digging this out and corralling them out to the outcrop/evergreen area to go enjoy life a bit farther away from me. I’m not sure yet what will be my plan of defense to keep them out of there, however it will have to be some kind of barrier.
I had just gotten to work one fine morning, waking-up my computer, opening the windows and about to go fire up a cup of joe, when I hear some awful “I’m being killed” type screams. I look out the window to see one of my cutie ground squirrels with a male house sparrow in it’s jaws and blood splattering from the birds flapping wings. I ran for the door instead of filming… Not sure what I was going to do upon arrival… As I ran around the corner, the squirrel was already almost back to it’s hole and dropped the sparrow upon seeing me.
Um, yeah. That bird had no chance.
I find it funny that I have seen these squirrels and the birds run around the ground together, within inches of each other for years, with no tangles. If this was so common, I think I would see more birds show concern when the squirrels are under the feeders.
Later, after I fled the scene with a somewhat upset belly, I saw the hunter come back for his meal. He sat by his hole, triumphantly eating his prize.
© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl