Belding’s Squirrels are small ground squirrels with reddish brown body color, short limbs and small ears. They eat insects, small invertebrates, bird’s eggs, seeds, nuts, grains, roots, bulbs, mushrooms, crops and other green vegetation. They reside in meadows and pastures in California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho.
Known for their longest hibernation periods of any North American mammal, usually lasting seven to eight months, male Belding Squirrels emerge from their burrows first and dig through the snow to hunt for food. Females emerge a few weeks later. The female Belding Squirrel mates for only one day in May or June, usually with two or three males. She then lines her burrow with leaves and produces 1-5 babies who spend about a month below ground before creating a burrow of their own. Only 2/3 of young Belding’s Squirrels and 1/3 of adults make it through hibernation.
The Belding’s Squirrel makes two types of burrows: a short one for emergency purposes and one with multiple entrances. Male adults sometimes kill young babies if left unattended in burrows. If her babies are killed, the mother Belding’s Squirrel will migrate to another population and kill the litter of a resident female and take over.
Credits: Thanks to Lani Powell for researching for this article.