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Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
Photo Information
Copyright: Rick Price (Adanac) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-04
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon 20D, Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6L IS
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-05-07 5:21
Viewed: 4844
Points: 50
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel was captured in Cypress Hills Provincial Park when he darted through the grass to his burrow entrance. These are rarely seen and we were lucky enough we found one that was more curious than scared. He actually allowed me to lay down and crawl within one meter of him, so there are more images to come.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
Spermophilus tridecemlineatus
General Description

By Gustave J. Yaki

The Thirteen-lined or Striped Ground Squirrel, if it still exists here, may be the rarest mammal in the Calgary area today. Its entire range is in the central part of the continent, stretching northward from the Gulf Coast of Texas to the mid latitudes of the Prairie Provinces. In Alberta, it is found throughout the Aspen Parklands, to just west of Edmonton, then southward in a thin line along the fifth meridian through Calgary to Waterton. From there, it ranges east along the Montana border to the Cypress Hills, thence north along the Saskatchewan border to Empress. This leaves a large hole in the doughnut, east of Calgary and basically south of the Red Deer River where it apparently has not been reported.

This, the smallest of the five ground squirrels species that occur in Alberta (it is not much larger than the woodland-dwelling Least Chipmunk), receives its name from the seven rows of buffy spots enclosed in brown stripes that are separated by six solid buffy lines running the length of its back from head to the base of the tail. The tail, which is one-third to almost one-half of its total length, is pencil-thin. The central longitudinal portion of the tail is tawny, bordered with a black band of hairs tipped with beige. The face and undersides are uniformly buff.

Average measurements of Alberta males are: total length, 275 mm (9 in); tail, 97 mm (3.80 in); weight, 162 g (5.6 oz). Females are slightly larger and heavier, but have shorter tails. In Manitoba, females apparently weigh less than the males.

This species tends to be solitary and secretive. It favours thick stands of grasses, usually near shrubs or trees. On warm bright days, it is most active between 10 am and 1 pm. In digging its burrow, it scatters the loose soil so that there is no evident tell-tale pile. After completing the den, it will tunnel straight up from about halfway along the entrance, pushing and again scattering the loose soil out of the first entrance, which may be subsequently plugged. The new hole, about 5 cm (2 in) in diameter, is now well hidden amongst the grasses. The main burrow may be six metres long, leading to a chamber about two metres below ground. This species hibernates from the end of September to early April. It awakens at periods of about every twelve days. During hibernation, it looses considerable weight. One study reported a loss of 39 per cent. Males emerge about a week before females.

Upon awaking from its hibernation, it eats seeds that it had stockpiled for that purpose. After emerging, it feeds on green vegetation, and later, seeds of native grasses and weedy plants. However, in the summer, up to 54 per cent of its diet is animal matter -- grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars and other invertebrates. It may also eat mice, young birds and carrion.

Mating takes place soon after the females emerge, in late April or early May. The litter of three to thirteen (average eight) are born after a gestation period of about 27 days. The female possesses only ten mammae, so their may be some mortality. Their eyes open about day 27, and shortly after, about July 1st, they appear at the burrow entrance. They are weaned about day 29, when only one-third grown, but start to fend for themselves. About ten days later, they leave their natal den, and dig their own, nearby. They achieve full growth and sexual maturity the next spring, when about eleven months old.

GLEM, fiyo, Argus, jaycee, ramthakur, vanderschelden, MMM, gjoess, SelenE, Raptorman, bobair, lovenature, SkyF, pvb has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • GLEM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 540 W: 87 N: 750] (10)
  • [2007-05-07 5:31]

salut RICK,
tu as parfaitement saisi ta chance le résultat est merveilleux. Elle a une jolie frimousse, des oreilles ramassées, et l'oeil brillant.
well done


Really cool shot of this interesting Squirrel. Nice pose and details.

Hello Rick,
This is a lucky capture of a rare specimen! Wow! This is a beautiful capture with nice details, beautiful catch light and composition. This is very well done with excellent notes. Thanks,

Hi dear Rick ,
lovely shot.nice mood.
well compoaed and good light,
thanks for sharing my friend

Good shot of this cute squirrel species.
I like the composition amongst the grasses.
Great shrpness and DOF.

  • Great 
  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2007-05-07 8:19]

Hello Rick,
Very nice shot.
Lovely detail and colours,nice composition.
Nice work,very well done.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-05-07 9:21]

Hello Rick,
Fine capture of the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel. When I was in Ontario many years ago I caught a glimpse of one but had no chance of photographing him. ¨You were lucky to have him pose for you to allow this fine sharp and well composed capture.
TFS and have a good week,

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-05-07 11:11]

Hi Rick,

You were so lucky to spot him! Beautiful capture - wonderful colors, details, and catch light in his eye. It looks like he spotted you too. Nice natural setting.


This is a good looking species of squirrels, Rick.
Being able to get that close to it has enabled you to capture a wonderfully sharp and clear image.
I like the glint in the squirrel's eye and those lines on its back are just beautiful.

Nice capture...very beautiful animal
TFS Rick

  • Great 
  • MMM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1114 W: 0 N: 2546] (11425)
  • [2007-05-07 14:10]

Hi Rick
Very nice capture ,i never saw one before.Very sharp image with beutiful details of the furs,nice catchlight in the eye.
TFS Michel

  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2007-05-07 14:23]

Hello Rick, what a lovely shot.. The collors and deatails are fantastic, very good POV and composition..congrats

Great squirrel shot. Very sharp. I like the reflection in it's eyes.

Hello Rick , very good portrait , good action and eye contact is beautiful , TFS and good luck.

Hi Rick,
now this something I have heard of but not seen a 13 striped ground squirrel.The fur patterns are very interesting and the little critter has a nice colour as well.It must be fairly rare for me to have never seen one as per the note,so it is a bonus for you to have caught it.Good colour,focus and POV as I see reflected in its eye,you.Well done on this one Rick and Tfs. Bob

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-05-07 23:20]

Hello Rick

Great capture to show this not oft seen squirrel here on TN.The image is sharp and well focused.Very good detail in the markings and fur.Nice eye contact with good catch light.TFS


  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-05-08 4:47]

Hi Rick,
It's a very nice capture. It looks so cute :o) TFS

bonjour Rick
comme toujours de tres belle prises, celle-ci est superbe, bonne netteté de l' animal , bonnes couleurs nettes
bravo et merci
bonne journée

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-05-08 5:43]

Hi Rick,

what an amazingly marked little chap, i can't believe you got so close to him! Details and colours are great - excellent job.

Hope you're well,


Hi Rick,
Wow these little furballs are cute, and you have it in such a nice pose were you can see the markings perfectly. Well done. :)

Hi Rick
Another species I have never seen. This squirrel has very impressive markings and you've captured them very well. I can't wait to see more images of this little guy. Colours, detail, lighting and layout are all great. Interesting notes to. I would love to see one of these little guys.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • SkyF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2234 W: 188 N: 1912] (8073)
  • [2007-05-09 9:57]

Hi Rick,
very interesting post, I never seen on like this before. Great shot though and you really lucky this rare find lets you get that close.
Fabulous POV to capture those interesting detail.
Sharpness, colors and composition are wonderful.

Belle prise, pas facile à photographier.

  • Great 
  • pvb Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 385 W: 16 N: 531] (1981)
  • [2007-05-09 14:41]

Hi Rick,
This is a very nice looking squirrel I have never seen before. Lucky for you to see him.
Nice pose and pov.
Looking forward to the other images.

Very good capture , Rick . I'm an army brat , so I got to listen to stories about these little fellas when I was a kid .My Dad was a signals operator , and spent a great deal of time on maneuvers in Cypress Hills . Thanks for the fun memories , and for sharing , Kevin .

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