The California ground squirrel is a curious creature. Initially, one could only find these squirrels in Oregon and California. The Columbia river on the northern part of Oregon created a natural boundary through which these squirrels couldn't cross. However, in recent times, the California ground squirrel made it across the river to reside in some parts of Washington. This small creature also lives in the northwestern part of Nevada.
Many people think the California ground squirrel looks cute or playful. As such, people sometimes want to take them home as pets. If you're interested in these fun-looking creatures, let's dive straight into what you need to know!
What Is a California Ground Squirrel?
If you're not from California or the western United States, you may not have seen a California ground squirrel before. These squirrels are a lighter gray and reach up to 12 inches in length, minus the tail. On its own, the tail can reach an impressive 6 inches in length, meaning that this creature is approximately 1.5 feet in length, from the nose to the end of the tail.
These squirrels are fascinating animals as they build burrows underground. Sometimes, the squirrels share these underground tunnels, although each squirrel gets its own most of the time. In the northern climates, they hibernate underground for several months. In warmer temperatures like those in southern California, these squirrels are active all year-round.
Can California Ground Squirrels Be Pets?
The short answer to this question is, no, they cannot be pets. The long answer is a little more involved.
There is nothing legally stopping people, in most jurisdictions, from having a California ground squirrel as a pet. These animals have no protection, so, in theory, if you had a pet squirrel cage, you could try to keep it as a pet. Some local city ordinances may prevent you from doing this, but generally-speaking, keeping a ground squirrel pet is permissible.
The problem is that California ground squirrels do not thrive in domesticated conditions. These animals love having the big outdoors to explore and roam! They're not used to cramped, confined environments like those you would find in a typical cage.
Therefore, even if you could keep the California ground squirrel alive, it would almost invariably be unhappy. Furthermore, there wouldn't be much chance of you picking it up or bonding with it meaningfully. The domesticated ground squirrel pet would wind up being reasonably boring!
If you have some local California ground squirrels, you can pick out some pet squirrel names for them, but leave them in the great outdoors where they're happiest!
What Do California Ground Squirrels Eat?
Many farmers call these squirrels pests because they will eat the plants. They're mostly herbivores. As such, you can find them snacking on fruits, seeds, grains, nuts, and sometimes even plant roots. These animals aren't incredibly picky about what they eat, so long as it doesn't have meat in it.
Does this Squirrel Have Predators?
As with most creatures in the animal kingdom, the California ground squirrel does have predators. Eagles and raccoons prey on the California ground squirrel.
One of the most significant predators of the California ground squirrel is the rattlesnake. To avoid succumbing to these deadly snakes, the squirrels have devised ingenious ways to escape unharmed. University of California Davis researchers uncovered how the squirrels used discarded snake skins to avoid detection by the rattlesnake.
California ground squirrels also wag their tails as a way of making them seem larger than they are. This action helps to fend off rattlesnakes who look at their larger motion and decide not to go in for the pounce because the creature is too fast.
In the urban environment, rattlesnakes are far less of a concern for the California ground squirrel than the eagles and raccoons. However, in the woods and wilderness, the rattlesnake poses a substantial threat.
What Is the Lifespan of a California Ground Squirrel?
Surprisingly, California ground squirrels don't live incredibly long. Their maximum lifespan is six years old, and many of the squirrels don't even reach that because they fall victim to a predator. While there's no data on how long the squirrel can live with those predators taken into consideration, it would not be unreasonable to think that the average life of a California ground squirrel could be half its maximum life. All in all, they're on this planet for a reasonably short time.