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Arctic Ground Squirrel

Spermophilus parryii

Photo:S.D. MacDonald, Canadian Museum of Nature
Arctic Ground Squirrel. Photo:S.D. MacDonald, Canadian Museum of Nature

The Arctic ground squirrel is the largest of all of the American ground squirrels. Its range covers most of the Northwest Territories; it is well adapted for life in extreme conditions, and that has allowed it to survive so far north. Unlike its close relatives, the Arctic ground squirrel will not defend a territory, but rather it will live in a number of different burrows in its life time. The Arctic ground squirrel will also live in large colonies. These colonies will construct a large system of burrows which can reach a length of twenty metres with approximately fifty to sixty separate entrances. Arctic ground squirrels eat a wide variety of native tundra vegetation such as leaves, roots and stems of grasses and sedges. They will also eat meat, as one squirrel was seen to carry a kilogram of caribou flesh to its den.

Map of Arctic Ground Squirrel in Canada
Distribution of Arctic Ground Squirrel in Canada

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