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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? Incredible Xerus Facts

One of the xerus inauris facts is that they are found living in the Savannas, grasslands, deserts, and the drier regions of southern Africa.

A xerus, also known as striped ground squirrel, belonging to the family Sciuridae, looks like a normal squirrel, however, it belongs to a different species of squirrels than the ones most commonly seen. They have a sandy brown or a dark brown color and white underparts. It is one of the most well-known animals for its long tail. The tail of a xerus is normally 7.5-10.2 in (19.5-26 cm) long.

African ground squirrels are found breeding in burrows with a nest placed right in the center. A South African ground squirrel mates throughout the year and they are often seen mating with different males and females. Therefore, they are not monogamous. As soon as the females of the African ground squirrel becomes receptive and are seen living in one social group, these animals start interacting more often with the male squirrels. According to certain research, it has been proven that mating takes place both above and below ground (in the burrows) where a male African ground squirrel runs behind the female in order to mate. Only one single female is in estrous at a time in a social group of xerus. Breeding and mating between the males and females takes place all year, but usually reaches the peak in winter. The average gestation period is 48 days but can range from 42 to 49 days, once the females have mated with the males. It is also seen that once males reach their sexual maturity they start dispersing from their burrows, in order to find a female xerus to mate with, whereas the females prefer to stay in social groups.

According to the IUCN red list, the conservation status of a South African ground squirrel is being declared as Least Concern. So these animals are not under the threat of becoming extinct or vulnerable. The South African ground squirrel population has not decreased a lot in the past few years. The current population of a striped ground squirrel is difficult to be estimated as on average there are nearly four species of xerus in the world.

Here on our page, we have lots of interesting fun facts about xerus'. Let's have a look at these interesting facts and if you do like these, then read our chinchilla and jerboa facts.

Xerus Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a xerus?

A xerus, or a striped ground squirrel, is a type of coarse-haired African ground squirrel that has a long tail. They also somewhat resemble a prairie dog in their habits.

What class of animal does a xerus belong to?

A xerus (South African ground squirrel ) belongs to the class of mammals. Striped ground squirrels are coarse-haired African ground squirrels. They belong to the species of squirrels that have long tails.

How many xerus are there in the world?

There are nearly four species of striped ground squirrels (genus Xerus) in the world. The four species are as follows: striped ground squirrel (Xerus erythropus), cape ground squirrel (Xerus inauris), damara ground squirrel (Xerus princeps ), and unstriped ground squirrel (Xerus rutilus). Ground squirrels are found living in Savannas, grasslands and the deserts of South Africa. The cape ground squirrels and the striped ground squirrels are found living in the drier regions of southern Africa such as Namibia, Botswana and stretching up to South Africa.

Where does a xerus live?

A striped ground squirrel is found living in the Savannas, grasslands, and the deserts of South Africa. The cape ground squirrels are found living in the drier regions of southern Africa (Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana) stretching up to South Africa. A South African ground squirrel is a terrestrial forager and is found living in dry environments, such as savannas, grasslands, and deserts. Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris) are found living in tropical regions. Cape ground squirrels and striped ground squirrels are also spotted living in the Kalahari desert. An African ground squirrel is found living in burrows which helps them in providing protection from extreme weather conditions.

What is a xerus' habitat?

Striped ground squirrels and cape ground squirrels are found living in dugouts, which helps them in providing protection from extreme weather conditions as well as from their predators like black-backed jackals, snakes, and lizards. Their main dwelling is burrows with a nest placed right in the center. South African ground squirrels are a terrestrial foragers and are found living in dry environments, such as savannas, grasslands, and deserts of South Africa. Cape squirrels (Xerus inauris) are found living in tropical regions. Cape ground squirrels are also capable of living in the deserts as they are found to be surviving in the Kalahari Desert as well.

Who do xerus live with?

An African ground squirrel (like the striped ground squirrel (Xerus erythropus), and the cape ground squirrels) are found living with species of their own kind. South African ground squirrels are found living among different animals of the wild as well, including some of its predators like the black-backed jackals, snakes, and lizards. As such, we can see that it is normal for these animals to coexist with different species of mammals and reptiles. The only thing that this animal has to be careful about is their protection against their predators which they focus on a lot and simply spend most of their time living in their burrows.

However, African ground squirrels are also seen living with different species of their own kind. There are nearly four species of genus Xerus in the world. The four species are as follows: striped ground squirrel (Xerus erythropus), cape ground squirrel (Xerus inauris ), damara ground squirrel (Xerus princeps ), and unstriped ground squirrel (Xerus rutilus). Ground squirrels are found living in savannas, grasslands, and South African deserts. The cape ground squirrels and striped ground squirrels (Xerus erythropus) are found living in drier regions.

How long does a xerus live?

The lifespan of an South African ground squirrel, on average, is around 11.5 years when a Xerus is held in captivity. Its lifespan is unknown in the wild. When given proper care, these animals could live up to 11 or 12 years but when exposed to the dangers of the wild, and when they don't always get proper food and water for their survival, the depiction of their average lifespan becomes difficult and it's tough to get an estimate. But, one thing we can certainly assume is that there are a good amount of African ground squirrels roaming around the world. According to the IUCN red list, their status has been declared that as of Least Concern.

How do they reproduce?

A South African ground squirrel mates throughout the year and they are often seen mating with different male and female partners, as they are not monogamous. The breeding season reaches its peak in the winter season. As soon as the females of the South African ground squirrel become receptive, they start interacting more often with the male squirrels. According to research, it has been proved that mating takes place both above and below ground (in the burrows) where a male African ground squirrel runs behind a female in order to mate. Only one single female is in estrous (or, heat) at a time in a social group of xerus.

Breeding and mating between the males and females take place all year and reach their peak in winter. The average gestation period is 48 days which can also range from 42 to 49 days, once a female has mated with the males. Females take care of the young African ground squirrels for about 52 days, with the motive that their young ones (pups) would eat solid food seven days after leaving the burrows. The estimated time period after which a pup comes out of the burrow is 45 days. It is also seen that once males reach their sexual maturity, they start dispersing from their burrows (and leave their home range) in order to find a female xerus to mate with. This is in comparison to the females who prefer to stay in one group (they are a more social animal). Also, the average age estimated for the males to acquire sexual maturity is eight months.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN red list, the conservation status of a xerus is being declared as of Least Concern (Not Extinct). So they are not under the threat of becoming extinct or vulnerable. The South African ground squirrel population has not decreased a lot in the past few years. The current population of African ground squirrels is difficult to be estimated as on average there are nearly four species of xerus in the world.

A South African ground squirrel is a terrestrial forager and is found living in dry environments, such as savannas, grasslands, and deserts of South Africa. The striped ground squirrels and cape ground squirrels are found living in burrows which helps them in providing protection from extreme weather conditions as well as from their predators like black-backed jackals, snakes, and lizards.

Xerus Fun Facts

What does a xerus look like?

A striped ground squirrel (belonging to the family Sciuridae) looks like a normal squirrel, however they belong to a different kind of species of squirrels than the ones commonly seen. These animals have a sandy brown or a dark brown color and have white underparts. This species of animal is very well known for it's long tail. The tail of a xerus is normally 7.5-10.2 in (19.5-26 cm) long. Xerus squirrels weigh about 1.3 lb (600 g) and are 17-18 in  (43-45 cm) tall.

Xerus' do not wander far from their burrows while foraging.

How do they communicate?

Xerus' use sounds in order to communicate, as they are social animals. These sounds range from a chirp to a long series of barks, screams, and purrs.

How big is a xerus?

A xerus is 17-18 in (43-45 cm) tall and weighs around 1.3 lb (600 g). They are six times bigger than a rat.

How fast can a xerus run?

The speed at which a xerus can run is similar to that of a common squirrel, but there is no recorded estimated speed.

How much does a xerus weigh?

A xerus weighs around 1.3 lb (600 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

No different names are given to the male and female of this species.

What would you call a baby xerus?

A baby xerus is called a pup.

What do they eat?

Xerus, or African ground squirrels, feed on insects, leaves, seeds, and nuts.

Are they dangerous?

No, these animals are not dangerous. They are usually omnivorous animals but feed on insects, leaves, seeds, and nuts.

Would these animals make a good pet?

Whether these animals would make a good pet can't be said. They are used to living in certain environments, which these animals might not get when kept as pets. If provided with all the favorable conditions that can make their survival easy, this animal could definitely be kept as a pet.

Did you know...

Some of the Xerus facts for kids: they are diurnal animals; when speaking of the home range of this animal, it is important to note that they make their burrows and stick around that burrow for most of their lives; another fun fact is that they use their super fluffy tails as shade to hide from the sun.

How do you pronounce xerus?

Xerus is pronounced as 'zeh-ruhs'. Its more common name is the African ground squirrel.

Why are xerus' endangered?

Xerus' are on the path of becoming Endangered because of the lack of habitat and food. Also they are often preyed upon by some of their predators like black-backed jackals, snakes, and lizards.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including field vole, or minature husky.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Xerus coloring pages.

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