Fast Fact: 13-lined Ground Squirrels

Not all squirrels live in trees. Some, like the 13-lined ground squirrel, are burrowers, digging a series of complex tunnels and burrows underground. They are one of the few animals in Illinois that is a true hibernator, and they usually hibernate in their underground burrows from about November to March. In the spring and summer, we often see them in grassy areas like parks, golf courses, cemeteries and even our yards. They like spots like these because they need grass that is short enough for them to see over when they stand up on their back legs.

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Like chipmunks and squirrels, ground squirrels store food in their cheek pouches and stash extra food underground. They mostly eat seeds but also sometimes insects and bird eggs. And true to their name, they do generally have 13 stripes. They have alternating light and dark stripes running down their backs, and the dark stripes have light-colored spots on them, giving them a dotted appearance.


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