Round Tailed Ground Squirrel Alarm Calls

By Dan Weisz

It seems as if everywhere you turn these days, everybody has concerns about something very bothersome in the news and is making their voices heard.  The other morning, I was sitting on my front porch and I kept hearing loud but short whistles.  It was a strong burst which I recognized as an alarm call of a Round-tailed Ground Squirrel.  Looking around, I could see any number of squirrels in the classic “look-out” stance and calling out for danger.  I believe I was seeing some squirrel parents, teaching their young and naive children, to look out for danger.  And to these adult ground squirrels, there was danger lurking everywhere.

This adult is trying to be very tall and is yelling out to the rest of the nearby squirrels.

I don’t know whether I kept seeing the same Round-tailed Ground Squirrel or a succession of different squirrels.  They kept popping up in many places and running into many other holes in the yard.  Most of the time they surfaced, they would look around and within a minute or two scream out.  I had never noticed the sharp teeth on these squirrels before.

They were always on the lookout at this time. None of the squirrels looked relaxed nor were they wandering around exploring or scavenging food.  Round-tailed Ground Squirrels are one of three species of ground squirrels we have in the Sonoran Desert.  To learn about these animals, read the post by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum: 

And the screams never stopped!

Here is a pair of Round-tailed Ground Squirrels, both on the lookout for something.

Eventually I went inside.  Perhaps I was the reason for their concern but who knows.  That was the most agitated for the longest time that I have noticed.

For another look at Round-tailed Ground Squirrels, you may want to listen to this nice piece by a local “Visual Storyteller” and talented artist, Beth Surdut.  Beth has recorded her stories of “The At of Paying Attention” on local Arizona Public Radio.  Here is one:

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