Commonly called a Potgut in northern Utah, Uinta ground squirrels are medium-sized ground squirrels. Their fur is brown to cinnamon in color, being paler on the underside and grey on the sides of the head and neck. Their faces and small ears are more cinnamon colored. The tails are buff with a grey underside.
Uinta ground squirrels are native to the western United States. They are found in Wyoming west of the Green River, in southwestern Montana, eastern Idaho, and northern and central Utah. These squirrels live in open areas, such as meadows, pasture, and shrub-steppe habitats.
Uinta ground squirrels are diurnal creatures. They live in colonies but react aggressively towards one another outside of the breeding season. Males mark their territories with scent glands in their cheeks, which they rub on the ground. These squirrels greet one another by sniffing, escalating to threat postures and bristling the hair on their tails. They also wrestle, do boxing and chasing if the intruder does not retreat. Uinta ground squirrels are only active for a few months each year. Males wake from hibernation around mid March. Females emerge slightly later, followed by female and then male yearlings. Adults return to their burrows to hibernate between late July and mid August, and juveniles about 2 weeks later. Thes squirrels communicate with help of 6 vocalizations: chirps, squeals, squawks, trills, growls, and teeth clattering. This way they attract attention or use them in aggressive interactions. Chirps are also used to warn of aerial predators, and trills to warn of predators on the ground. When squirrels hear them they adopt an alert posture or run to their burrows.
Uinta ground squirrels are polygynous where each male may mate with several females. The breeding season begins about 2-4 days after the end of hibernation in March or April. During this time males attract females producing calls and making scent markings. Females give birth to a litter of 5 young, which are born in early May. The gestation period lasts around 23 to 26 days. The young are weaned at about 22 days of age and emerge from the burrow at around the same time. Although they are still small, weighing only around 60 g (2.1 oz), the mother almost completely abandons them after weaning, and they disperse to establish their own territories over the next 2-3 weeks.
Currently, there are no major threats to Uinta ground squirrels.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Uinta ground squirrel total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.