Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

(Spermophilus lateralis)


Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The golden-mantled ground squirrel resembles a chipmunk, but is larger and facial stripes are lacking. It has cream-coloured and black body stripes, but no stripes on the head and tail. The rest of the fur is tawny grey, with coppery-red shoulders and face. Tail length is from 6 to 12 cm and total length is 25 to 30 cm. It weighs from 175-275 g.


Golden-mantled ground squirrels hibernate from about October to May (the exact dates depending on latitude) but some individuals awaken periodically to feed.


This squirrel’s varied diet consists primarily of seeds, nuts, and fruit; these are supplemented by green vegetation and insects, as well as by large quantities of subterranean fungi, which it locates by smell and digs out. Coniferous seeds constitute a third of the diet in autumn.


The golden-mantled ground squirrel digs shallow burrows up to 30 m long to nest in,and the openings are usually under or near a log, tree roots, or a boulder. After a gestation period of 26–33 days, the female gives birth in early summer to one litter per year of 4–6 young.

Did you know?
That in autumn, the golden-mantled ground Squirrel puts on a layer of fat, which helps maintain it through winter hibernation? It also carries food in its well-developed cheek pouches to its den to be stored and presumably eaten in spring when it awakens.


Name (Scientific) Spermophilus lateralis
Name (English) Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Name (French) Écureuil terrestre à manteau doré, Spermophile à manteau dorée
Name (German) Goldmantel-Ziesel
Name (Spanish) Ardilla de manto dorado, Ardilla de tierra de oro-cubierta
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
K. Lee



Range Canada (Alberta, British Columbia) and United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming)
Habitat In a wide variety of forest habitats and open rocky areas.
Wild population Abundant throughout its range (Red List IUCN 2011).
Zoo population None reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 79 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by

Why do zoos keep this animal

The golden-mantled ground squirrel is an attractive, colourful and diurnal species, very appealing to children, and may help to create in kids a positive attitude towards animals and nature.