Franklin’s ground squirrel

(Poliocitellus franklinii)

Conservation Status
Franklin’s ground squirrel
Photo by Lynn Rubey
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Franklin’s ground squirrel is a medium-sized squirrel but a large ground squirrel. It is the largest and darkest ground squirrel in its range. It occurs in the tallgrass prairie region in the United States from North Dakota and Minnesota in the north to Kansas and Indiana in the south, and in Canada from central Alberta to southern Manitoba. It is considered scarce in Minnesota. It is found in and around tallgrass prairies in areas with tall vegetation including edges of fields and prairies, open woodlands, and edges of marshes.

Franklin’s ground squirrel is superficially similar in appearance to an eastern gray squirrel but it is smaller and has a shorter, less bushy tail, shorter ears, and a more pointed snout. The body is slender, elongated, and 14 to 16 in total length, including a 4 to 6 tail. Males are heavier than females. The coat (pelage) is short and dark gray with pale and dark flecks. There is a brownish wash over the back and rump. The underside may be yellowish-white, gray, or brownish-gray. The ears are short and egg-shaped. The female has 10 to 12 mammae. The skull has 22 teeth.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total length: 14 to 16

Head and body: 9 to 10

Tail: 4 to 6

 
     
 

Sign

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Areas with tall vegetation; edges of fields and prairies, open woodlands, edges of marshes

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Behavior

 
 

Franklin’s ground squirrel spends most of its time in an underground burrow that can be up to 8 feet deep. It is tolerant of humans and can be seen at camp sights, in state parks, and at dumps. It does not stand upright when alarmed.

 
     
 

Lifespan

 
 

7.2 years (in captivity)

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Males hibernate from August to late March or April. Females enter hibernation later and emerge later in the spring.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Omnivorous. Plant leaves, stems, seeds, and fruit; ground nesting bird eggs; insects; and small animals, including other ground squirrels.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

15, 24, 29, 30, 76.

 
  7/31/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Scarce

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placentals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires  
  Clade Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Rodentiia (rodents)  
  Suborder Sciuromorpha (squirrels)  
 

Family

Sciuridae (chipmunks, marmots, squirrels)  
 

Subfamily

Xerinae (ground and African tree squirrels)  
  Tribe Marmotini (holarctic ground squirrels and chipmunks)  
 

Genus

Poliocitellus (Franklin’s ground squirrel)  
       
 

Franklin’s ground squirrel is the only species in the genus Poliocitellus.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Citellus franklinii

Spermophilus franklinii

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Franklin’s ground squirrel

gray gopher

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Pelage

The coat of a mammal, consisting of fur, wool, or hair, and including a soft undercoat and stiff guard hairs.

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Becky Utecht

 
    Franklin’s ground squirrel      
 

Lisa Olson-McDonald

 
 

Very tame ground squirrel near the entrance of the Rustic Cabin Shop.

 
    Franklin’s ground squirrel   Franklin’s ground squirrel  
 

Lynn Rubey

 
 

A Franklin's Ground Squirrel in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge between Pool 7 and the West Pool. This one seemed very curious about us but also a bit wary.

  Franklin’s ground squirrel  
           
    Franklin’s ground squirrel   Franklin’s ground squirrel  
           
    Franklin’s ground squirrel      
           
 

A Franklin's Ground Squirrel foraging for leaves in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge before disappearing in the under brush along side the auto tour road. Franklin's ground squirrel (Poliocitellus franklinii) is a species of squirrel native to North America, and the only member of the genus Poliocitellus. Due to the destruction of prairie, the populations of Franklin's ground squirrel have dwindled, approaching levels of concern.

  Franklin’s ground squirrel  
           
    Franklin’s ground squirrel   Franklin’s ground squirrel  
           
 
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Other Videos
 
  Franklin's Ground Squirrel (Sciuridae: Poliocitellus/Spermophilus franklinii) Showing Caution
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 19, 2010

Photographed at the Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (19 August 2010). Go here to learn more about this species: http://kufs.ku.edulibres/mammals_of_kansas/sperm-frank.html

   
       

 

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Report a sighting of this mammal.

 
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  Becky Utecht
7/25/2021

Location: Gooseberry Falls State Park Campground

Franklin’s ground squirrel

 
  Lisa
Olson-McDonald

6/9/2021

Location: On the lawn in front of the Rustic Cabin Shop (8 miles south or Orr, Hwy 53)

Very tame, was grazing near the front door of the store.

Franklin’s ground squirrel

 
  Lynn Rubey
6/24/2019

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

A Franklin's Ground Squirrel in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge between Pool 7 and the West Pool. This one seemed very curious about us but also a bit wary.

Franklin’s ground squirrel

 
  Lynn Rubey
6/22/2019

Location: Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge

A Franklin's Ground Squirrel foraging for leaves in The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge before disappearing in the under brush along side the auto tour road. Franklin's ground squirrel (Poliocitellus franklinii) is a species of squirrel native to North America, and the only member of the genus Poliocitellus. Due to the destruction of prairie, the populations of Franklin's ground squirrel have dwindled, approaching levels of concern.

Franklin’s ground squirrel

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Created: 6/27/2019

Last Updated:

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