Otospermophilus beecheyi, more commonly known as the California Ground Squirrel, are one of several squirrel species found commonly throughout California. They are very flexible, with their ecology, social relationships, and physical characteristics changing depending on the habitat (2). O. beecheyi have brown dorsal fur with silver spots (1). This pattern changes throughout the year based on the season and the habitat (2). They are distinguished from other squirrels by their bushy tail with white-tipped fur and a peppered fur pattern that covers their neck and shoulders (2). O. beecheyi are relatively large for squirrels, reaching total lengths of 51 cm with up to 22.9 cm of that being the tail (2). O. beecheyi are omnivorous, feeding primarily on seeds from grasses and oaks but also seasonally on vegetation during growing seasons (2). Occasionally, O. beecheyi will feed on small animals and eggs (2). They are almost strictly ground-dwelling and create burrows in the ground to avoid danger and raise their young (1)(2).
(1) Jameson, E. W., Jr., & Peeters, H. J. (2004). Mammals of California (Revised ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
(2) Smith, J. E., Long, D. J., Russell, I. D., Newcomb, K. L., & Muñoz, V. D. (2016). Otospermophilus beecheyi(Rodentia: Sciuridae). Mammalian Species, 48(939), 91-108.
(Photograph) © Alice Abela