The second European Ground Squirrel Meeting will be held in Czech Republic

The II European Ground Squirrel Meeting will be held in Svaty Jan pod Skalou, Czech Republic, October, 1st - 5th, 2008. More information


The euoropean ground squirrel speak on different dialects!?!

The structure and variability of alarm call of European ground squirrel(Spermophilus citellus L. 1766) from two populations in Western Bulgaria are studied. The registered alarm calls may consist of two separated phases: at 8 kHz and 12 kHz respectively. Both phases can be fused or emitted continuously with maximum interval of 32.90 ms between them: probably they are produced by two independent acoustic sources. A phenomenon of concentration of the maximum energy of the call in the second harmonic is observed.
The durations of the phases have high degree of variation, but the total length of the call in the studied populations has similar values. Total duration of alarm call is more than 100 ms, while the maximum registered value can exceed twice the minimum. The frequency characteristics (highest, lowest frequency and frequency with most energy of both phases) have low degree of variability and they clearly and statistically significantly distinguish the studied populations (Koshev, Pandourski 2008).
More for this investigation on Koshev, Pandourski 2008 (full pdf).


European Ground Squirrel returns

(Cited from For years the European ground squirrel or souslik has figured on the endangered wildlife lists. But this may change soon. Over thirty youngsters have been born in the Poznan Zoo in the mid-west of Poland. Ecologists are ecstatic. They say its the first time in over three decades that this animal had offspring in Poland, though admittedly in captivity. An adult souslik looks like a big squirrel or an American gopher. These creatures love the wild and their greatest pastime isnt climbing trees and eating nuts, but digging borrows.
Ecologists say that Polands market transformations could ironically benefit the ground squirrel. Even though the collapse of state-owned farms is causing much hardship to the unemployed in many areas of Poland, these vast expanses of vacant farmland could provide perfect breeding ground for these slender muscular squirrels.
In order to bring theses furry creatures back to Poland Poznan Zoo in Western Poland has designated breeding areas for the European ground squirrel. The souslik once lived in Southwestern Poland. Ecologists are hoping that that the programme of releasing newborn souslik youngsters into the wild next year will succeed.
Poland on-line radio


The new ground squirrel species was discovered in Southern Turkey

In 2007 two scientific teams have published the results of discovery of new species from genus Spermophilus in South Turkey (Ozkurt et al. 2007; Gunduz et al. 2007). The name of new species is Taurus ground squirrel (Sp. torensis) or (Sp. taurensis). The new species has a small distribution in the Taurus Mountains in an area that is a hotspot for biodiversity. Molecular clock analysis suggests that the new species diverged from the European ground squirrel (Sp. citellus), about 2.5 million years ago and that the ancestor of these two species diverged from the widespread Anatolian ground squirrel (Sp. xanthoprymnus), about 5 million years ago (Gunduz 2007).
Sp. torosensis is found in open areas above 1500 m in the Taurus Mountains in southern Anatolia. The species inhabits rocky areas with sparse vegetation, but does not live in areas with deep soil. In some cases, individuals were observed living in stone walls. The local population size of S. torosensis living in such a habitat is considerably smaller than those in Anatolia because S. torosensis lives in small mountain steppe areas that are surrounded by stony areas too difficult for digging burrows. Those stony areas also have little or no vegetation that ground squirrels can eat. Because of suitable areas are very small, they cannot easily disperse to other regions. In addition, the altitude is a limitation for populations in the Taurus Mountains, because the ground is covered by snow about six months of the year at altitudes over 1900 m. In contrast to populations in Central Anatolia, S. torosensis has limited time, food, and space to reproduce. Populations of S. torosensis and S. xanthoprymnus are geographically close on the northern side of the Taurus Mountains although no areas of sympatry have yet been reported. In plotting the distribution of S. torosensis from south to north towards the central Anatolian steppe, we found approximately 25 km separate the two populations in Hadim (Konya). Although it is possible that the two species might be in contact, in our view they appear to be two allopatric species. Because S. torosensis lives at a high altitude, it has a different breeding time from that of S. xanthoprymnus. Also, there are behavioral differences between the two species; for example, S. torosensis wakes up from hibernation in May when the snow melts, whereas S. xanthoprymnus starts to be active in mid-March (Ozkurt 2007).

More information in following publications:
Ozkurt S., M. Sozen, N. Yigit, I. Kandemir, R. Colak, M. Moradi Gharkheloo, E. Colak. 2007. Taxonomic status of the genus Spermophilus (Mammalia: Rodentia) in Turkey and Iran with description of a new species. Zootaxa, 1529: 115.

Gunduz I., M. Jaarola, C. Tez, C. Yeniyurt, P. D. Polly and J. B. Searle. 2007. Multigenic and morphometric differentiation of ground squirrels (Spermophilus, Scuiridae, Rodentia) in Turkey, with a description of a new species. Mulecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 43 (3): 916-935.
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