Spermophilus variegatus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Spermophilus variegatus
Species Authority: (Erxleben, 1777)
Common Name(s):
English Rock Squirrel

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Linzey, A.V., Timm, R., Álvarez-Castañeda, S.T., Castro-Arellano, I. & Lacher, T.
Reviewer(s): McKnight, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team), Amori, G., Koprowski, J. & Roth, L. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority)
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, and because it does not appear to be under threat and is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species distribution constitutes an extensive range in southwestern United States and Mexico, from eastern Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, south through west Texas (in the east) and southeast California (in the west) to southernmost Puebla, Mexico. It has been found from sea level to 2,900 m (Wilson and Ruff 1999).
Mexico (Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas); United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah)
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species is locally common (Wilson and Ruff 1999). It is colonial, with reported densities of 2.0 individuals/ha in marginal habitat and 5.7 individuals/ha in good habitat.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs in semi-arid areas, specifically among rocky canyons, cliffs, and hillsides. It is also found in urban areas. Despite what is portrayed by most range maps, this species is unlikely to occur in sub-tropical forest on the western Mexican coastal plateau.

This species has food habits that tend towards buds, nuts, fruits, and seeds such as pinyon, wild lupine, acorns, juniper berries, grapes, and corn. It also feeds on grasshoppers, beetles, earthworms, and even young turkeys. Although the rock squirrel is largely a vegetarian, it will eat meat if the opportunity arises (Wilson and Ruff 1999).

This squirrel tends to be colonial. Within a colony, there is a dominant male and a number of subordinant males. Females have one or two litters per year, depending on the length of the winter and gestation takes 1 to 1.5 months. Litters consist of one to seven young (typically four).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): None known.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no known conservation measures specific to this species. However, there are several protected areas within its range.

Bibliography [top]

Oaks, E. C., Young, P. J., Kirkland Jr., P. G. and Schmidt, D. F. 1987. Spermophilus variegatus. Mammalian Species 272: 1-8.

Wilson, D. E. and Ruff, S. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Linzey, A.V., Timm, R., Álvarez-Castañeda, S.T., Castro-Arellano, I. & Lacher, T. 2008. Spermophilus variegatus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 March 2015.
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