California Ground Squirrel

California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) as seen in our Aquarium Gardens exhibit.

This animal is not part of an Aquarium exhibit, but is rather a species that lives on or regularly visits the extensive gardens or wooded areas of the property.

These small mammals can be found throughout the forests of the Pacific Northwest. They look very similar to other squirrel species with a slender body and bushy tail. Including the tail, they can grow up to 15 inches in length (38 cm). They have mottled gray fur with a pale belly and white circles around the eyes. They are initially hesitant around people but tend to live in and among human habitations. If fed, they will quickly become comfortable with people and often turn into a nuisance animal. At the Aquarium, they are often seen scampering across the paths, leaping on the trunks of nearby trees and quickly scaling them to the branches above. Although they will raid trash cans (and the unattended picnic basket), their normal diet consists of pinecones, acorns, nuts, berries and insects. These squirrels are hunted by snakes, eagles, raccoons, weasels and other predatory mammals.

Range & Habitat

California Ground Squirrels can be found in the forests and woodlands of the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington), parts of Nevada and California. They live inside burrows they have excavated themselves and often share with other squirrels.  They stay close to these burrows, usually straying no more than 150 feet (45 m) from its entrance.

Conservation Status