Cape Ground Squirrel (Xerus inauris)

Cape Ground Squirrel

Cape Ground Squirrel

The Cape Ground Squirrel (Xerus inauris) is one of four African ground squirrel species on the continent. The species occurs only in Namibia, South Africa, and Botswana where it inhabits arid to semiarid areas – mainly grasslands with hard ground. The squirrels dig large tunnel systems which can stretch over an area of up to 700 m² with up to 100 entrances. These burrows serve as protection against the scorching heat as well as predators, such as jackals. Nevertheless, since the ground squirrels do not hoard food, much of the daily activity is directed at searching for and eating of insects, fruits, grass, and herbs. Generally, the animals do not have to drink, but get all water from the food they digest. They live in medium-sized groups of either females with their offspring or males – the latter enter the burrows of females only for short amorous adventures. Since the squirrels are diurnal and temperatures on the ground can reach up to 60°C in the open sunlight, they often create their own shade with the help of their bushy tails held above their head – a really clever design! I have photographed these interesting animals in Namibia in February 2007.

foraging for food

foraging for food

in the shade of the tail

in the shade of the tail

Cape Ground Squirrel

Cape Ground Squirrel

Cape Ground Squirrel

Cape Ground Squirrel

5 responses to “Cape Ground Squirrel (Xerus inauris)

  1. So interesting to see these animals using their tails to protect themselves from the hot sun. Here in chilly Michigan, similar creatures use their bushy tails for warmth!

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