Saturday, October 31, 2015

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - A Lost Soul

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Crowned with a russet headband, the golden-mantled ground squirrel is a lost soul living at the forest’s edge. Usually stationed on a fallen log, this solitary creature lives most of his life alone, quietly observing the activity happening all around him.

Always alert, he’s an inquisitive animal that seems to tolerate a peaceful approach. For this rockhound of a rodent, summers are spent lying about in the sun while fall becomes more frenzied as he must fatten up for a five month hibernation.

Specialized cheek pouches allow the golden-mantled ground squirrel to gather generous amounts of food off of the ground. With all fours freed up, he is able to transport the mouthful back to his burrow at full speed.

The edible cache is reserved for winter so if he wakes from hunger, he can gnaw on a mid-slumber snack. It’s also a convenient energy source that can be eaten when the sleepy squirrel reemerges in the early spring.

Because they share the same ecosystem and physical features, he is often confused with the Colorado chipmunk. The golden-mantled is easily distinguished, though, as he lacks the facial striping so prominent in his smaller cousin.

He doesn’t have much impact on the environment and despite human alteration to his habitat, his kind seems to be thriving. It’s our world and he’s just a simple squirrel searching for a nut but if he ever disappeared, he would be sorely missed.

A lost soul

Stationed on a fallen log

Always alert

He tolerates a peaceful approach

A rockhound

Fall becomes frenzied

He has specialized cheek pouches

He gathers food

He lacks facial striping

He doesn't impact the environment

His kind is thriving

A simple squirrel

He would be missed

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