Franklin’s ground squirrel

(Poliocitellus franklinii)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Franklin’s ground squirrel

 

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Scarce

Habitat

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

Lifespan

7.2 years (in captivity)

Photo by Lynn Rubey
Size

Total length: 14 to 16

Head and body: 9 to 10

Tail: 4 to 6

 

Identification

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.

 
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Food

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

 
Life Cycle

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

 
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.


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 15, 24, 29, 30, 76.


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Taxonomy

Order:

Rodentia (rodents)

 

Suborder:

Sciuromorpha (squirrels)

 

Family:

Sciuridae (chipmunks, marmots, squirrels)

 

Subfamily:

Xerinae (marmots, ground squirrels, African squirrels, and relatives)

 

Tribe:

Marmotini (ground squirrels)

 
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.

       

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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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  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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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


     
     
 

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