Welcome to the animal kingdom!
Welcome to the animal kingdom!

The rock squirrel Spermophilus variegatus

Фото Rock squirrel

The rock squirrel is distributed in south-western United States and Mexico, from eastern Nevada and Colorado to southernmost Puebla, Mexico. Rock squirrels almost always inhabit rocky locations including cliffs, canyon walls, and steep rocky hills. They often sit on the rocks, producing loud, sharp, intermittent whistles. The rock squirrel can skilfully climb bushes and trees. Rock squirrels attain adult body lengths of 430 to 540 mm and weigh 600 to 850 grams, with males being slightly larger than females. To mask their odour from rattlesnakes, California ground squirrels and rock squirrels chew on sloughed-off snake skin and lick themselves to apply chewed snake skin to their fur. American researchers have demonstrated that the rock squirrels “wearing snake perfume” have less chances of becoming prey. Probably, such smell also scares off other predators. Observations showed that rock squirrel males do not use this tactic as much as the females do. Apparently, the red squirrel mothers living in the burrows with their pups apply snake smell on the skin to protect the whole family and the burrow.

Female rock squirrels can give birth to two offspring per year, in May-June and in August-September; each litter consists of 5 to 7 pups.

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