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Welcome to the animal kingdom!

Harris's antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii)

Фото Harris's antelope squirrel
Фото Harris's antelope squirrel
Фото Harris's antelope squirrel
Фото Harris's antelope squirrel
Фото Harris's antelope squirrel
Фото Harris's antelope squirrel
Фото Harris's antelope squirrel

Systematics, habitat

The genus Harris's antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii) comprises five species that are named for the gracefulness of the animals and their fast running:

  • Ammospermophilus harrisii - Arizona, Sonora;
  • Ammospermophilus interpres - Texas, New Mexico, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango;
  • Ammospermophilus leucurus - western North America;
  • Ammospermophilus nelsoni - central California;
  • Ammospermophilus insularis - Isla Espiritu Santo (an island off the coast of Baja California).

In size these animals are close to small species of our gophers: their body length reaches 14-15 cm, tail length 5-10 cm, weight 100-150 g. The dorsal side of Ammospermophilus insularis is the same as that of Ammospermophilus nelsoni.

The dorsal side of Ammospermophilus harrisii is light grey or light reddish-brown; on the sides there is a beautiful white stripe bordered by darker edges; the ventral side is white; the tail is dark from above, with a white top, its lower side is also almost white. The fur of these rodents is not too thick and stiff, and the cheek pouches are well developed.

All five species of this genus are distributed over desert areas in the foothill and lowland deserts of southwestern North America from Colorado through Utah, northern Arizona, Nevada, southern California, down the Rio Grande Del Norte Valley to western Texas and adjacent areas of northern Mexico.

Lifestyle and habits

Ammospermophilus harrisii are the most conspicuous animals of the dry, sparsely vegetated (including cacti) areas of the so-called "Wild West". They dig their own burrows, similar in structure to those of many of our gophers. Ammospermophilus harrisii are active all year round, they do not hibernate, but in case of cold weather they can stay in their shelters for several days, using pre-prepared supplies or falling into a light torpor. Ammospermophilus harrisii feeds on various seeds and fruits, bulbs and rhizomes, green parts of plants, insects, sometimes also carrion, small lizards, eggs and chicks and other animals of similar size.

The animals stockpile in burrows or other sheltered places, carrying food in their cheek pouches. When disturbed, Ammospermophilus harrisii announces this to its other relatives with a shrill whistle. It may stand on its hind legs and wag its fluffy tail, which is usually tucked behind its back. If the danger is real, Ammospermophilus harrisii quickly rushes at a graceful gallop to the burrow, overcoming rocky cliffs and scattered rocks with the grace of an aerial acrobat. Ammospermophilus harrisii are excellent climbers - they climb to the top of a thorny cactus with lightning speed.

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