The European Ground Squirrel is a member of the squirrel family that lives in burrows that it digs in the ground in grasslands and pastures. Unfortunately, it is almost extinct because the places that it lived were turned into fields for farming and forests.
Body length: 17.6 to 23 cm
Tail length: 3.8 to 7.4 cm
Weight: 170 to 430 g
(Source: Doubutsu Sekai-isan* Red Data Animals Kodansha) (*World Animal Heritage)
The European Ground Squirrel lives in the south-east part of Europe. They dig long tunnels to create the burrows where they live in places covered with short grass.
The European Ground Squirrel eats plants such as grass, roots, and seeds. They stuff their food into their cheeks, and then carry it to the safety of their burrow!
For most of the day, the European Ground Squirrel keeps watch for the birds and foxes that are its natural enemies. It uses its hind legs and its tail to stand up and get a good look at its surroundings.
The burrow is a safe place to hide!
Squirrels live mostly in trees or mostly on the ground. The European Ground Squirrel lives on the ground. It likes places that are covered in short grass, and it lives in burrows that it digs in the ground. The European Ground Squirrel is targeted by the birds and foxes that are its natural enemies whenever it is above ground. So, it quickly stuffs the grass, seeds, and other plants that it eats into its cheeks, and carries the food back to the burrow where the food is stored.
The burrows are being destroyed?!
The changes to the European Ground Squirrel's habitat are what is causing it trouble. The amount of grasslands and pastures with short grass has been decreasing as they are changed to fields for farming and forests. People have been using tractors to plow the land in order to change it into fields for farming, and this has been destroying the burrows that are supposed to be safe places for the squirrels. The forests, where tall plants grow, also aren't good places for the European Ground Squirrel to live. Right now, the number of European Ground Squirrels has decreased so much that they are in danger of going extinct.
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