Fun Round-tailed Ground Squirrel Facts For Kids

Ritwik Bhuyan
Oct 20, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Round-tailed ground squirrel facts are interesting.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.1 Min

The round-tailed ground squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus) is also known by the scientific name Xerospermophilus tereticaudus. In Spanish, the ground squirrel is known by the name of Ardillón cola redonda. Mostly found in the deserts of the southwest United States and Mexico, including Arizona, California, and northern Mexico, the round-tailed ground squirrel is called a ground squirrel as this species burrow in loose soil. The round-tailed ground squirrel can also be seen in the sandy habitats of the Sonoran Desert. When the new leaves are budding out in the spring of the mesquite trees, the rock squirrels and round-tailed ground squirrels are seen climbing and foraging on the leaves. The range of the round-tailed ground squirrels often overlaps with the range of the Harris' antelope squirrels and the rock squirrels.

The round-tailed ground squirrel resembles a tiny prairie dog. However, apart from the resemblance and some similar habits with the prairie dog, the two species are not related. This group of species with the genus Spermophilus is strictly diurnal. Round-tailed ground squirrels have a long round tail complemented with long, broad, and hairy hind feet. The diet of these animals mainly consists of green vegetation. This diet of green vegetation includes spring wildflowers, cactus flowers and fruit, mesquite leaves, ocotillo flowers, and grasses. However, the species also has a diet of seeds and insects. As the habitat in the Sonoran Desert and all the other places lack water content, the diet of the round-tailed ground squirrel provides them with 80% of the water content they need.

For more relatable content, check out these Siberian flying squirrel facts and Piute ground squirrel fun facts for kids.  

Round-Tailed Ground Squirrel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a round-tailed ground squirrel?

Round-tailed ground squirrels are a species of ground squirrel from the US and Mexico. The animals are known for making a burrow in the soil of the desert.

What class of animal does a round-tailed ground squirrel belong to?

The round-tailed ground squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus) falls under the class of Mammalia in the kingdom of Animalia.

How many round-tailed ground squirrels are there in the world?

The population of round-tailed ground squirrels is not known. They are found abundant in all the deserts.

Where does a round-tailed ground squirrel live?

Round-tailed ground squirrels are native to the northwestern United States and Mexico. They are found in the desert areas of Arizona, California, and Northern Mexico. The squirrels are also seen in the sandy arid regions of the Lower Sonoran Life Zone.

The ground squirrels are found making burrows in the sand habitat they thrive on.

What is a round-tailed ground squirrel's habitat?

The round-tailed ground squirrel is found in the dunes and shrubs in lower flatter areas. Burrows of this animal have been found in the shrub habitat. The burrows have also been seen in the sand of dunes, in areas with dense sand. Habitats have low humidity and extremely high temperature. This is the reason the rodent requires high water content in their diet of vegetation and other plant items including seeds.

During winter, the species become inactive in the deserts and only come out in January or February. Although it hugely remains inactive during this period, some are seen showing habits of coming out for shorter durations in search of something to eat. Otherwise, the species only comes out in the summer.

All three squirrels in the area are diurnal. However, the Harris' antelope squirrel is active all year.

They are also found in the Sonoran desert.

Who do round-tailed ground squirrels live with?

The burrows are individual and the species live alone in them. If someone tries to encroach in the region, the squirrels chase them away. Males are dominant through January to March during the breeding season and females are dominant from March to April after the breeding.

How long does a round-tailed ground squirrel live?

The lifespan of these animals is around eight to nine years. The average life span is considered to be eight years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the round-tailed ground squirrel starts in mid of January. The testes of males become enlarged. Females become pregnant from March to April. The gestation period is for 25-35 days. The largest litter has been seen to be 12. But the average litter size of young is considered to be six. The young are born with eyes and ears closed and are hairless. The group becomes capable of running around in 25 days. The group of young are weaned in five weeks.

Young become sexually mature in 10-11 months after birth. The diet is the same as the adult family with plant, vegetation, or seeds as primary food.

Females for their young alone.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the round-tailed ground squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus) is categorized as of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. There is no danger to the population of the animals living in the deserts currently.

Round-Tailed Ground Squirrel Fun Facts

What do round-tailed ground squirrels look like?

As the name suggests, the animal has a long and round tail

The round-tailed ground squirrel is a small-sized ground squirrel with a long round tail. The species also have long, broad, and hairy hind feet. The fur on the body is colored pale, is uniform, and has no stripes on it. The underside of the squirrel is paler in color. The summer plumage is brighter than the winter. The skull of the animal is rounded.

The name round-tailed ground squirrel is given because of the structure of the tail which is round in shape.

The species is known to molt twice a year, the first in spring and the next in fall.

How cute are they?

The squirrel with the round tail is considered very cute by all animal lovers. The posture and behavior of the animal in the desert habitat make it look very adorable.

How do they communicate?

They are known to communicate using whistles. When a single whistle is heard, all of the squirrels run to their burrows and then look around for potential dangers.

How big is a round-tailed ground squirrel?

The round-tailed ground squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus) has a length of 8-10.9 in (20.3-27.6 cm).

Regular squirrels have a length that has a range of 2.36-17.99 in (6-45.7 cm).

How fast can a round-tailed ground squirrel run?

Their speed is not known.

How much does a round-tailed ground squirrel weigh?

The weight of the squirrel is 0.24-0.37 lb (108-167.8 g).

The Arctic ground squirrel, a species of ground squirrel, is found in North America and has a range of weight of 1.15-3.30 lb (521.6-1496.8 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the species are not given different names.

What would you call a baby round-tailed ground squirrel?

A baby round-tailed ground squirrel is called a young or neonate.

What do they eat?

They are omnivores and feed mostly on green vegetation and plant materials. They also feed on seeds and some small insects. In insects, the round-tailed ground squirrels mainly feed on ants, termites, and grasshoppers. They cannot survive on dry food and need 80% water content on the food they eat.

Predators that prey on these cute animals includes snakes, hawks, felids, and canids.

Are they dangerous?

They are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

They are not considered pets as they need their desert habitat to thrive.

Did you know...

Three squirrel species namely Harris' antelope squirrels, rock squirrels, and the round-tailed ground squirrels live in the same desert area and have the same habits as all three animals are diurnal. However, only the Harris' antelope squirrel is active all year throughout the desert.

Tall fences and nets can keep the round-tailed ground squirrel away from the gardens or bushes. Other methods include trapping and baiting.

They are diurnal and active during morning and evening. The species is not active at night. They are also active feeders during the day and are often seen running to the burrows in extreme heat conditions.

Are ground squirrels protected in Arizona?

All the species of ground squirrels and chipmunks are protected under ARS Title 17-309 by the state of Arizona. The round-tailed ground squirrel is also protected from hunting and capture by the same law. Only rock squirrels, gophers, and packrats have no protection law in the state.

Even if people are not allowed to kill the round-tailed ground squirrel, control of this animal is allowed if causing damage.

Do round-tailed ground squirrels hibernate?

The species is known to hibernate in the winter time and estivates, a period of torpor or dormancy in hot weather, in the summer drought season of the desert. The animals usually emerge from the burrows by the end of January. Some are also seen by the month of March. Some research says that the species actually do not hibernate but actually becomes inactive in the sand during those months.

Rock squirrels, however, retreat to their burrow in winter, but there is no information if the species actually hibernates during the winter months. Like all species, they are seen above ground in summer in January through March.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these red-tailed squirrel facts and cape squirrel facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Round tailed ground squirrel coloring pages.

Round-Tailed Ground Squirrel Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Green vegetation, seeds, insects

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


How Much Did They Weigh?

0.24-0.37 lb (108-167.8 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?


Where Do They Live?

southwestern united states, northwestern mexico

How Long Were They?

8-10.9 in (20.3-27.6 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Spermophilus tereticaudus

What Do They Look Like?


Skin Type

Hair and fur

What Are Their Main Threats?

habitat loss

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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