| Oil-palm nuts, cactus seeds, mesquite beans, wild figs, insects, and corn all figure in the diet of the Ring-tailed Ground Squirrel, which lives in the lowlands of western Mexico. It moves silently and with considerable agility through the dense brush and tangled vines that surround big trees in tropical forests. It also likes thick palm groves. It often burrows into rocky hillsides, but will make its home in holes in trees, crevices in stone walls, and even in barns. It breeds in the dry season (December to June) and its pelage is brighter then. One female was found carrying four embryos, but no other details about reproduction are available.
The Ring-tailed Ground Squirrel's long, narrow tail features about 15 blackish rings. It sometimes stands up on its hind toes to look around, using its tail to form a tripod that helps it balance. Its internal cheek pouches are large and open directly behind its premolar teeth. John James Audubon, who shares credit for describing and naming this squirrel, is the same Audubon famous for his "Birds of America."
Total Length: 383-470 mm; Tail: 186-238 mm
Audubon, J. J., & J. Bachman, 1842. Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 8:319.
Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).
Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account (opens in a new window).