Harris's Antelope Squirrel

Harris's Antelope Squirrel

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
SPECIES
Ammospermophilus harrisii
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
2-11 yrs
WEIGHT
110-140 g
LENGTH
22-25 cm

Harris's antelope squirrels are rodents that are often mistaken for chipmunks. These antelope squirrels have distinctive markings on their grey fur, with brown highlights on the sides and legs and a white strip down the side of the torso and encircling their eyes. In the winter their fur grows longer and becomes softer than in the summer.

Distibution

Harris's antelope squirrels are found in the Southwestern United States, specifically in Arizona and the southwest of New Mexico. The range extends outside the US into Mexico into the northwest of the state of Sonora. These animals inhabit different types of desert habitats which include deserts with cacti and desert shrubs. They also can be found in open plains with gravel and sand.

Harris's Antelope Squirrel habitat map

Geography

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Harris's antelope squirrels are diurnal being active during the day, including midday hot hours. They do not hibernate and remain active above ground during the year. These squirrels are solitary and meet only during the breeding season. They often climb cacti to scan the territory. Harris's antelope squirrels live in burrows that are often found under various shrubs. They also locate their shelters around rock-bound hills, where they can easily take shelter when necessary. In order to protect themselves from the heat of the desert these little rodents carry their tails over their bodies providing shade. They also use a heat reduction method where individuals move into shaded positions and lie spread eagled against the ground. This method is called a "heat dumping". In order to communicat with each these animals produce trill sounds and stamp their forepaws as alarm signs.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Harris's antelope squirrels are omnivorous. Their diet includes fruit and seeds of local cactus plants, as well as beans of the mesquite plant. They also eat insects, small rodents and carrion.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
February-March
PREGNANCY DURATION
30 days
BABY CARRYING
6 pups
INDEPENDENT AGE
7 weeks
FEMALE NAME
doe
MALE NAME
buck
BABY NAME
pup, pinkie, kit

Little is known about the mating system in Harris's antelope squirrels. Their breeding season takes place between February and March although mating can take place between December and June. The gestation period lasts 30 days, and females usually have one litter per year with an average of 6 pups. Young are born with their eyes closed and weigh around 3.6 grams. Their eyes open between 4 and 5 weeks after birth and pups are ready to leave their nest for the first time. Young are weaned at 7 weeks and grow to adult size at around 217 days after birth. Both males and females reach reproductive maturity during the first year.

Population

Population threats

Main threats to Harris's antelope squirrels at present include accidental mortality by trapping and poisoning.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Harris's antelope squirrel is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

References

1. Harris's Antelope Squirrel on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris%27s_antelope_squirrel
2. Harris's Antelope Squirrel on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/42399/115189204

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