Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

The rock squirrel, Spermophilus variegatus, is a large ground squirrel native to much of Utah, other parts of the southwestern United States, and Mexico. The rock squirrel is usually gray in color, and it can be distinguished from Utah's other ground squirrels by its large size and long bushy tail. As its name implies, the rock squirrel prefers rocky habitats, and it is rarely found in open plains or forests.

The rock squirrel is an opportunistic feeder, eating seeds, nuts, berries, other vegetation, invertebrates, and even meat when it is available. The species mates in the spring, and females give birth to a litter of approximately four young about one month after mating occurs. Rock squirrels are active during the day, and only individuals at high elevations hibernate. Most rock squirrel burrows can be found under large rocks, shrubs, or trees.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Burt, W. H. and R. P. Grossenheider. 1980. A field guide to the mammals. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 289 pp.