BLANE KLEMEK OUTDOORS: Richardson’s ground squirrels enjoy a social lifestyle – Bemidji Pioneer

Minnesota Division of Pure Useful resource’s Division of Fish and Wildlife lately launched its new “Window On Wildlife” out of doors digicam to seize wildlife and their actions, stay, for public viewing and streaming on the DNR web site. The primary viewing alternative concerned a hen wooden duck inside her nesting field incubating eggs and later hatching them. The month-long spectacle was successful.

This month the digicam was moved to a water impoundment in Grant County the place the digicam is capturing stunning sunrises and waterfowl exercise. Test it out at

Following the digicam’s wooden duck web site, DNR employees was planning to maneuver the digicam to a Richardson’s floor squirrel colony positioned in Polk County however plans modified when it was found that the inhabitants had both moved to a special location or most of them had died out.

Causes for the latter is conjecture, however prospects embrace final yr’s drought that induced a lower in meals availability, final spring’s overland flooding or illness, or a mix of those components and extra. Hopefully, the inhabitants will bounce again or return, and the digicam could be moved there subsequent summer time.

Richardson’s floor squirrel is a species of floor squirrel with colonial habits like prairie canines. No different Minnesota native floor squirrel has fairly as social a way of life as what Richardson’s floor squirrels get pleasure from. The carefully associated and similar-looking Franklin’s floor squirrel are non-colonial, woodland dwellers whereas Richardson’s floor squirrels occupy open landscapes.

Belonging to the squirrel household, Richardson’s floor squirrel — so named after Scottish naturalist Sir John Richardson — is additional labeled as a floor squirrel, as a result of, not like its arboreal cousins reminiscent of grey squirrels, fox squirrels, crimson squirrels and flying squirrels, they spend a big proportion of their lifespan in a community of underground burrows.

Furthermore, Richardson floor squirrels are true hibernators. Certainly, all floor squirrels enter very deep states of hibernation inside comfortable and heat underground sleeping chambers. Different floor squirrels embrace chipmunks, thirteen-lined floor squirrels and woodchucks.

Surprisingly, throughout summer time’s hottest time of the yr is the interval when grownup Richardson’s floor squirrels put together for hibernation. Grownup males are the primary to go “down beneath,” adopted by females in late July or early August. Juveniles are the final to hibernate, often mid to late September.

Richardson’s floor squirrels are concerning the dimension of crimson squirrels in whole size (a little bit over eight inches lengthy from nostril to the tip of their brief little tail), although a lot “plumper” in look. Given the mammal’s gray-yellow coloration, it’s no marvel that folks evaluate Richardson’s floor squirrels to prairie canines.

Couple Richardson’s floor squirrels’ bodily traits with their communal conduct that, collectively, are so just like prairie canines, it’s straightforward to know why comparisons are made between the 2 species. Certainly, Richardson’s floor squirrel colonies are very very like prairie canine cities in each social dynamics and look.

Ranging all through Minnesota’s western fringe, together with the Pink River valley, Richardson’s floor squirrels are a species of floor squirrel well-adapted to the northern Nice Plains’ grasslands and croplands of western Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and in different western states, too.

The little rodents’ penchant for standing vigil on the mounded entrances of their burrows is a lovely sight to make sure, and a sight value seeing.

Richardson’s floor squirrels are charming little rodents of the prairie. These mammals, so well-adapted to residing out their lives within the windswept, harsh setting of dry prairie habitats, are nonetheless delicate to habitat loss simply as some other species.

Nonetheless, what with prairie grassland habitat as diminished as it’s throughout Minnesota’s western panorama, the few remaining Richardson’s floor squirrel populations and their most well-liked habitats are essential to protect and shield. Possibly subsequent summer time Window On Wildlife will permit you, too, to view this particular animal as we get out and benefit from the nice open air.

Blane Klemek is a Minnesota DNR wildlife supervisor. He could be reached at

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