Antelope squirrels or antelope ground squirrels of the genus Ammospermophilus are sciurids found in the desert and dry scrub areas of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They are a type of ground squirrel and are able to resist hyperthermia and can survive body temperatures over 104 °F.
There are currently four recognised species in the world, with one subspecies:
- Harris’s antelope squirrel, A. harrisii, found in Arizona, New Mexico, and Sonora in Mexico.
- The San Joaquin antelope squirrel or Nelson’s antelope squirrel, A. nelsoni, found in the San Joaquin Valley, California.
- Texas antelope squirrel, A. interpres, found in Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico.
- The white-tailed antelope squirrel, A. leucurus, found in the southwestern United States and the Baja California Peninsula.
All are somewhat similar in appearance and behavior. They are around 5.5″ – 6.7″ long with a 2.4″ – 3.9″ tail, and weigh 3.9–5.3 oz. The tail is somewhat flattened. They have a single white stripe on both flanks and none on the face. They live in burrows, which they dig for themselves. They are diurnal, and do not hibernate (though they become less active during the winter), so they are fairly easily seen.
What is an Antelope Ground Squirrel
Below is a transcription of the above sign found at the Valley of Fire Visitor Center.
Antelope Ground Squirrel – Ammospermophilus leucurus
Low to high desert and foothills
7 to 9 inches long (18 to 23 cm), small ears, long tail carried flat against back shows white underside, narrow black border.
Color: buff in summer, gray in winter; underside white
Seeds, fruit, cactus
Most of Great Basin and Mojave deserts
ADAPTATION FOR SURVIVAL
Can allow body temperature to reach +108°F (+42°C) before seeking shade.
Uses own burrows, rock crevices, abandoned burrows of other animals.
Carries food in cheek pouches.
Stores food for winter season; hibernates in den.
Carries bubonic plague.
Do not “tame” ground squirrel.
Do not attempt to pick up sick animal.
Immediately report any bites to park rangers.