What Does a Ground Squirrel Look Like?

Ground Squirrel Identification

While most people are familiar with tree squirrels, fewer can identify the pests' burrowing cousin, the ground squirrel. When identifying the source of holes and tunnels in lawns, there are several important questions to ask. What a ground squirrel looks like is the first.

Although they spend a fair amount of time tunneling, these pests can still be spotted foraging for food aboveground. They are about 9 to 11 inches long with speckled, brownish-gray fur and a semi-bushy tail. Another factor in identification is their burrows. Ground squirrel holes are about four inches in diameter and two to four feet deep.

Ground Squirrels Compared to Other Animals

Ground squirrels are most often confused with tree squirrels, which they resemble, or other burrowing animals such as moles and groundhogs. In addition to their bushier tails, tree squirrels can be differentiated from ground squirrels by their behavior. When alarmed, a tree squirrel's first instinct will always be to climb.

On the other hand, ground squirrels are most likely to race for their burrows. What differentiates these pests from moles and groundhogs is mostly their size. Large and stocky, groundhogs reach around 20 inches in length, while moles are much smaller, at only about five inches long.

Avoiding Damage

Homeowners with a ground squirrel problem may notice damage to gardens first, as the pests will feed on grains, nuts, fruits, or seedlings and chew on sprinklers and irrigation lines. Most destructive of all is their burrowing. Tunnels that run under buildings can destabilize foundations, while their holes and mounds are a hazard to lawn machinery, people, and livestock.

The most effective forms of control tend to be fumigation and trapping, though both require knowledge of how to locate existing burrows. The surest method of identifying and getting rid of ground squirrels is to call the wildlife experts at Critter Control.