The Rock Squirrel is a species of rodent and it is the largest ground squirrel in its range with an average body length of 17-21in (430-540mm). It has a mottled upper body with a grayish-brown chest, a brownish-black rump and a creamy-white or pinkish-buff belly. Its bushy long tail is mottled buff-brown with white edges and measures between 6 3/4–9 7/8in (172-252mm). Long bushy tail variegated buff and brown with white edges. The average weight of Rock Squirrels is 21–28 oz (600–800 g).
Their large size distinguishes this species from most other ground squirrels.
Rock Squirrels can be found in rocky habitats, on rocky cliffs, arid canyon walls, talus slopes, rock and boulder piles as well as hills along highway fills and oak-juniper growth in canyons.
They have also been known to burrow in urban or suburban areas under lumber piles or junk cars. They do however avoid open flats and mountain forest areas.
They are found in the Sonoran Desert, and from Southern Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, and south through Arizona, New Mexico and into Mexico.
The meat of the Rock Squirrel tastes similar to dark chicken meat, but is much leaner with a firmer feel to the mouth with a muskier flavor.
The Rock Squirrel enjoys feeding on pine nuts, walnuts, seeds of mesquite, cactus, saltbush, agave, wild gourd, cherries, and sumac as well as all sorts of cultivated fruits and vegetables. It also eats insects such as grasshoppers, crickets and caterpillars. One can also find the Rock Squirrel feeding on carrion.
Although it is a ground squirrel, it is a good tree climber and will climb juniper and mesquite trees to gather fruit. It will occasionally carry food back to its den to store and eat later.
The Rock Squirrel is diurnal and most active in the early morning and the late afternoon. In the northern part of its range and in high elevations it may hibernate for short periods during the colder periods.
Rock Squirrels live in colonies and usually construct their dens in burrows below the rocks, but they may make a den in a tree hollow.
The female Rock Squirrel has two litters annually with three to nine young in each litter. The first litter is born between April and June and the second litter is born between August and September following a gestation period of 28 to 32 days. The newborns weight about 1/4 oz (8 g) and the young nurse for about two months before they emerge from their natal burrows and begin foraging for food.
Rock Squirrels have a sharp, clear, sometimes quavering whistling vocalization. Their alarm call is short, followed by a lower-pitched trill. Their predators include Golden Eagles, Bobcats, Ringtails, Common Gray Foxes, and Rattlesnakes.
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