White Tailed Antelope Squirrel: Ammospermophilus leucurus

The white-tailed antelope squirrel is common in San Bernardino County’s Mojave Desert, as it does well in desert riparian, desert succulent shrub, and desert wash habitats.
The white-tailed antelope squirrel is a diurnal omnivore that lives in the same environs as the Mohave ground squirrel, but the two do not interbreed and should not be confused with one another.
Much like the Mohave ground squirrel, the white tailed antelope squirrel’s optimal habitats are desert scrub, sagebrush, alkali desert scrub, Joshua tree, bitterbrush, and pinyon-juniper.
These creatures are about eight inches in total length with a tail length of about three inches. They weigh about a quarter pound at maturity.
Foraging on the ground and in shrubs and trees, white-tailed antelope squirrels feast on seeds, fruits, green vegetation, arthropods, insects and carrion. In the spring, better than half of their diet consists of winter rain-induced greens, such as grasses, blackbrush, acacia, Joshua tree, opuntia cactus and mesquite. Also in autumn  Arthropods grow to become upwards of 30 percent of their diet. To a lesser extent, they will munch on vertebrates, mainly lizards and mice.
Like some other squirrels, they carry the food they catch in their cheek pouches. They form hierarchies in small feeding groups.
White-tailed antelope squirrels are burrowing creatures, and they will dig into friable soil to form their own tunnels, creating several in their home range, in some cases interconnecting them. They will also adopt the abandoned burrows of other animals. This habitat is useful for eluding predators and extreme temperatures.
To reproduce, they will construct nesting burrows to a maximum depth of two feet with two to three entrances often beneath shrubs but also in the open. The birthing spot is strewn with dried vegetation and hair. Their breeding season runs from February through June with a peak in births in April. The litter size ranges from 5-14, with a mean of 9. Females may have two litters per year, but one is considered normal. Pups are weaned at about two months.
As a species, these squirrels have an average home range of 15 acres and utilize roughly four acres in their daily activities.
While Mohave ground squirrel are predominant in the Mojave Desert and are apparent in greater numbers while active, the white-tailed antelope squirrel has made behavioral and physiological adaptations which keep it active yearlong, as opposed to the Mohave ground squirrel, which hibernates.
Their activity is greatest at temperatures between 59-86° Fahrenheit. Through much of the year they are most active in the morning, midday and late afternoon. They will venture out of their burrows a little more than an hour after sunrise and retire to their burrows a half hour or so before sunset. Their energy output increases from April through October and their metabolic rate drops in the evening. In the winter, they will form small huddling groups to keep warm, in this way reducing their individual energy output.
Their major predators include hawks, owls, coyotes, kit foxes, badgers, bobcats, and snakes

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