Status: Least Concern
Names: chipmunks, prairie dogs
Description: Squirrels are small rodents and have fur usually coloured differently on their backs as compared to their face, neck and bellies. The eyes are fairly large and have white lines around them. The pinnae are small. The tail is flattened on the back and underside and is covered with differently coloured fur.
Three types of squirrels live in Zambia. The ubiquitous bush squirrel found throughout the savannah woodland areas. Also found are Boehm’s squirrel and the sun squirrel.
Fun Facts !
Ecology and Behaviour
When perceiving something as a threat, ground squirrels will emit a whistle-like call as an alarm call. During antagonistic encounters, squirrels emit deep growls as signs of aggression. Juvenile squirrels make play calls, nest chirpings and protest squeaks. Ground squirrels eat bulbs, fruits, grasses, herbs, insects and shrubs. They forage daily and do not hoard food. The Cape ground squirrel usually does not need to drink as it gets sufficient moisture from its food. A ground squirrel's daily activities are made of around 70% feeding, 15-20% being vigilant and around 10% socializing. The squirrels use the position of the sun as an orientation marker to hide and recover their food.
The Cape ground squirrels populations does not seem to be threatened overall.
Distribution and Habitat
Squirrel mate and reproduce all year-round. Predators of ground squirrels include jackals, snakes and monitor lizards. Ground squirrels may be able to scent the differences in the dropping of predators and non-predators. When threatened by predators ground squirrels engage in mobbing behaviour by having several squirrels rush at the predator while using their bushy tails to block it. When the predator strikes back, all the squirrels back off. However, multiple mobbings are usually successful in driving away predators
Interaction with humans
In some areas, it is persecuted as an agricultural pest. In addition, humans have used poisonous grass to control ground squirrel due to crop damage and rabies.
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