Richardson's ground squirrels are known by a variety of names, including
gophers, prairie gophers, yellow gophers, picket pins, flickertails, and Tawny American Marmots. They are a member of the squirrel family in the order Rodentia.
ground squirrels ( commonly referred to as RGS) make their home in the northern plains of the USA and on the southern Plains
of Western Canada, where in many areas they are considered pests by ranchers, farmers and golf course owners. In some places
a bounty is offered for their tails or they are poisoned on mass. Although many
western farmers consider them pests there are as many people who admire them for their pet qualities and for their ability
to form such strong bonds with their owners. Although most Richardson Ground squirrels do not live more than a year or so the wild, in captivity, with
proper care, they have been known to live as long as 6- 7 years.
are gray or a light blondish gray above, tinged with brown and buff their under parts appears more of whitish or pale buff
colour. Their tail is edged with white or buff; light brownish or buff below.
In recent years their have been a few other colours being worked on jet black and more recently a very light blonde is being
worked with. These new colour morphs
are relatively new and they are still very uncommon and both of these new colour morphs are equally as striking and beautiful.
Ground Squirrels are about 283 to 337 mm in males and 264 to 318 mm in females. Their tails vary in length from 65 to 88 mm
in males and 55 to 82 mm in females and only weigh between ¾ -1 ¾ lbs. They are a diurnal animal with a fairly extensive vocabulary
consisting of a variety of vocal signals and they use body movements to signal dangers and changes to their current behavior.
All of which we as pet owners need to learn to recognize and to respect.
for a ground squirrel, most of the needed can be found at local pet stores. Large cages designed for rabbits, ferrets, guinea
pigs and chinchillas are often suitable to use to house an RGS. Besides the cage you will also need to provide a heavy non
tip food dish, a medium sized water bottle, aspen wood shavings for bedding and a few varieties of nesting material such as
shredded paper toweling, clean bird feathers and organic dried leaves and grasses for nesting. Being that Richardson’s’ enjoy tunneling you should allows provided them with large PVC tubes
and a hut that they can use to build a den.
be fed a staple diet of organic timothy hay, a bit of commercially prepared rodent blocks, supplemented daily with raw sunflower
seeds and small animal mix grains, fresh vegetables and on occasion the odd vegetable
based dog biscuit is okay. Timothy hay needs to be available at all times but the rest of the extra uneaten food items
should be removed regularly and again…it should only be offered
in limited quantities! …‘We humans often equate food with love and through our well intended generosity we can
sometimes kill our pets with kindness’… Richardson’s
gain weight easily! Obesity may very well be the number one problem with keeping RGS’s in captivity.