Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

The golden-mantled ground squirrel is often mistaken for a very large chipmunk because it has a white stripe bordered with black on each side of its body. But unlike a chipmunk, it does not have stripes on the side of its face, rather it has a coppery colored head. It also has coppery colored front paws and chest. It has grayish-brown fur on the back and a lighter underside.

It has cheek pouches for carrying food. This golden-mantled squirrel was photographed at 11,499 feet, the summit of Mount San Gorgonio, eating some gorp left by a hiker. I have also seen them at 14,494 feet, the summit of Mount Whitney.

They can be quite tame when found in areas frequented by lots of visitors.

They are only found in a small portion of Southern California, the higher mountains. However, they are found in large parts of most of the states of the western United States and up into portions of Alberta and British Columbia.

They eat fruits, nuts and seeds and hibernate during the winter.

The golden-mantled squirrel, below, was seen in the White Mountains at over 12,000 feet.

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