This post is also available in: Swedish

European ground squirrel – Spermophilus citellus

European ground squirrel –  Spermophilus citellus
also known as the European souslik, is a species from the squirrel family, Sciuridae It and the speckled ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus) are the only European representatives of the genus Spermophilus. Like all squirrels, it is a member of the rodent order. It is to be found throughout eastern Europe from southern Ukraine, to Asia Minor, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and north as far as Poland but the range is divided in two parts by the Carpathian Mountains.

The European ground squirrel grows to a length of approximately 20 cm (8 in) and a weight of approximately 300 grams (11 oz). It is a diurnal animal, living in colonies of individual burrows in pastures or grassy embankments. The squirrels emerge during the day to feed upon seeds, plant shoots and roots or flightless invertebrates. The colonies maintain sentinels who whistle at the sight of a predator, bringing the pack scurrying back to safety.

Breeding takes place in early summer when a single litter of five to eight young is borne. The European ground squirrel hibernates between autumn and March, the length of time depending on the climate. In preparation they will build up reserves of brown fat during the late summer.