NORTH IOWA OUTDOORS: Iowa’s Sleepiest Mammal

Some of these sleepy heads have been spotted in the area taking advantage of the warmer than usual temperatures and foraging for what they can find. Others remain in hibernation. The thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), colloquially known as “squinnies” in Iowa spends more of the year awake than asleep. Adult thirteen-lined ground squirrels typically enter hibernation in August or September and emerge in April. Females may stay out longer in the fall than the males and the young of the year will remain out longer than the adults.

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is fairly easy to identify as, true to their name, they have a series of lines running down their back. Historically they are a prairie species, but they have adapted well to pastures, hayfields, ditches, etc. In fact, because they prefer shorter grass, they are known to do well on golf courses, grazed pastures, and mowed roadsides. During the summer they are relatively easy to spot on roadsides.

If you are nearby a golf course or one of the roadside ditches, you may find one of the squinnies foraging about for food.