Of all the squirrels listed in the “Ground Squirrel” group, the Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel is most often mistakenly identified as a gopher or chipmunk.
The Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel can be easily identified by its brown body, white under body and the thirteen alternating brown and white stripes down its back and sides. These markings can look like seven broad dark brown stripes with six tan bands or seven narrow yellow stripes with six broad dark brown bands. The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is sometimes mistaken as a chipmunk until their stripes are looked at closer and counted. These adult squirrels grow to be nine to twelve inches long and 3 to 5 inches tall and all have internal cheek pouches for carrying food to their burrow.
The thirteen-lined ground squirrel can be found on prairies, golf courses, cemeteries, and open areas from Canada to the Southern US. They feed on insects, mainly grasshoppers, plants, and the seed of weeds, corn, wheat and sometimes the meat of small vertebrates. Preyed upon by hawks, snakes, foxes, coyotes, and badgers, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel will often sit erect with its nose in the air looking for danger while eating.
After hibernation, female thirteen-lined ground squirrels give birth to a litter of 5-13 babies that are born blind, hairless and toothless. These babies open their eyes on day 13 and are fully-grown in 3 months. After remaining with the mother for 4-6 weeks, the babies fend for themselves often digging their own burrows not far from home.
The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is most active midday and on warm days and is host to a variety of fleas, mites, ticks, and lice. They greet each other by touching their noses and lips and leave scent marks by using the glands around their mouths.