On our trip to southeastern Oregon’s substantial desert past 7 days, we had been astounded at the range of mammal species we encountered in just four times – pronghorns, deer, marmots, voles, squirrels, horses, cattle, jack-rabbits. A person of the most considerable mammals in eastern Oregon is the Belding’s ground squirrel (AKA sage rat).


Just in the tiny spot about of the historic Frenchglen Lodge, I saw at least a dozen Belding’s ground squirrels. They would arise from their a lot of burrows just right after dawn and continue to be energetic until finally sunset – feeding, chasing each other, and peering about for predators. As we drove together Hwy 205, both north and south of Frenchglen, a ground squirrel ran throughout the road about each individual five seconds.

They are somewhat tiny ground squirrels, measuring only eight.five inches extended with a small 2.five-inch tail and tiny ears. They have number of markings and are normally brownish-gray to pink in colour. Their burrows prolong about two ft down below ground.


Belding’s ground squirrels are seasonal rodents. They hibernate for approximately 7 months of the yr, starting off in August, but when they arise in late spring, they are taking in machines. They do not cache food items for hibernation, so they need to double their excess weight by taking in through the spring and summer season. Preferring leaves and stems of wild and cultivated grasses and roots of other herbaceous plants, Belding’s can do sizeable destruction to yards and agricultural crops in a small time.


In actuality, Belding’s ground squirrels are the most harming ground squirrel to agricultural crops in California and eastern Oregon. Not only do they destruction crops, but they can chew by irrigation lines, weaken levees and ditches with their burrows, and pose hazards for farm staff and tools. Mainly because of that, farmers and ranchers shell out a great deal of time and cash trying to manage them using procedures as varied as fumigation, trapping, taking pictures, toxic baits, and burrow modification. Baiting with poison-coated seed is not powerful because Belding’s ground squirrels are not usually seed-eaters.

Lovable as they are, these ground squirrels (like many desert rodent species) can be lethal. They distribute health conditions these kinds of as Rocky Mountain noticed fever, rat bite fever, tularemia, Chagas’ sickness, adiospiromycosis, and encephalomycarditis. They also serve as reservoirs for bubonic plague (which spreads by fleas from infected squirrels). So, it is ideal to notice them from a distance.


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