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Friday, September 11, 2009

Spermophilus richardsonii


There are about 200 mammals in North America. Although I would certainly never say that I know all of them, I thought that I at least would recognize any from the Northeast or Northern Midwest. Wrong! Here's a little furball that we saw on the Mesabi Trail one day.


Appears to be some kind of rodent. OK... holds its tail out behind it, not up, when moving (Chipmunks run with their tails up). There are more rodents than any other kind of mammal. Wonder what the heck this is... some kind of ground squirrel?


Speaking of that tail, maybe it needs a little bit of grooming...


"Pardon me, this is important"


"Actually, it's a little embarrassing... I mean, how would you like to have to clean your tail in public?"


"Gotta go!"


Well, you can believe that I really was eager to look this one up when I got home! Seems this is a Richardson's Ground Squirrel, Spermophilus richardsonii, often called a Flickertail. It is native to short grass prairie. In fact, North Dakota's nickname is the Flickertail State! (I'm embarrassed to say that I thought that was referring to a bird.) So, we saw this in Minnesota, on the Mesabi Trail.

Supposedly they act more like a prairie dog than like other ground squirrels, and they flick their tails a lot... thus "flickertail."

Well, I'm always happy when I'm learning something new about the outdoors, so this was a 5-star day on the trail!

See New Digs for Peabody's Great, Great, Great, Great... etc. for the local ground squirrel
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Your Daily Cute said...

He's very cute!

Julia said...

Maybe the more appropriate name would have been "rat-tail ground squirrel"

But up close he is unmistakably ground squirrel and cute too.

Christa Bledsoe said...

And I learned something new too, thank you :) I think when the little guy was in the shade he looked like a rat. I am visiting from Adgitize.

John | English Wilderness said...

It's amazing that you managed to get close ups without it running away. Are they fairly tame? Great pictures. :-)

Joe Todd said...

Great photos. I'll bet that was a fun post to do

betchai said...

interesting photos, the close-up picture is really great, i can feel the intensity of his stare.

Sharkbytes said...

Daily Cute- That is quite a compliment from you, the cute-master!

Hi Julia- what ground squirrels to you guys have? I hear western squirrels are really hard to ID.

Christa- Welcome! Well, he was bigger than most rats, and I could tell, even from a distance, that his tail was hairy, though thin.

John- I don't think they are very tame. I have a good zoom on the camera I got this spring!

Hi Joe! I was just so tickled to have a new find... although I'm sure it isn't anything new to any readers from the upper midwest.

Bethchai- he seemed to sore of be aware of us, even though we were far enough away to not alarm him.

Ratty said...

This is a five star day for reading your site too! A new discovery is always great! I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out, even though you have the scientific name in the title. The common names are more interesting for me.

Sharkbytes said...

Ratty- That's why I gave the scientific name first... I knew hardly anyone would recognize it, it looks a little mysterious, and I wanted to keep the suspense up until the end.

Tes said...

Oh wow...interesting shot and what a capture. He is quite friendly. He does not seem to be cautious of strangers. I can see he did not rush off when he saw you. :)

Sharkbytes said...

Tes- Well, my new camera has a very good zoom. He kind of knew we were there, but we hadn't set off his alarms yet by getting too close. Thanks for stopping by.

•°°• IcyBC •°°• said...

I like the common name: flickertail, and I learn something new too..

Sharkbytes said...

Hi Icy- Yes, the common name is much more fun. I just wanted to make you wait for the fun name, so I used its "real" name for the title! (evil grin)

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