Ground-Squirrel - Encyclopedia




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GROUND-SQUIRREL, one of the names for a group of (chiefly) North American striped terrestrial squirrel-like rodents, more generally known as chipmunks. They are closely allied to squirrels, from which they are distinguished by the possession of cheek-pouches for the storage of food. The sides, or the sides and back, are marked with light stripes bordered by dark bands; the ears are small, and without tufts; and the tail is relatively short. With the exception of one Siberian species (Tamias asiaticus), ground-squirrels are confined to North America, where they are represented by a large number of species and races, all referable to the genus Tamias. In North America ground-squirrels are migratory, and may be abundant in a district one year, and absent the next. They feed on nuts, beechmast, corn and roots, and also on grubs. With the assistance of their cheek-pouches they accumulate large supplies of food for the winter, during which season they lie dormant in holes. Although generally keeping to the ground, when hunted they take to trees, which they climb in search of food. One of the longest known American species is T. striatus.

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