Richardson's Ground Squirrel - Urocitellus richardsonii
The Richardson's Ground Squirrel is a medium-sized ground squirrel of rather uniform coloration. It is buffy yellow to grayish in color. The tail is about one-fourth of the total body length and is blackish to buff with whitish hairs on the outer edges and end. Adults are 7 to 9 inches long and weigh 11 to 18 ounces.
Western Hemisphere Range
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 513
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Map Help and Descriptions
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Non-migratory. May exhibit emigration/dispersal movements.
Occupies open well-drained land, prairies, and pastures. Can occur on arid shrub-steppe. Less well-adapted to arid shrub-steppe than is S. elegans.
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Human Land Use
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Primarily herbivorous. Eats leaves, flowers, and seeds of grasses and forbs. Domesticated cereals when available. Stores food in burrow. Will use insects and carrion.
Allopatric distribution with S. columbianus from Canada border south to Madison and Beaverhead Counties. S. richardsonii and S. columbianus sympatric and even syntopic (along with S. armatus and S.elegans) in Beaverhead and Madison Counties. Possibly in Jefferson and Broadwater Counties.
One litter annually, beginning as yearlings. Females typically mate 3 to 5 days after emergence. Most recent studies show gestation to be 22.5 days. Mean litter size at emergence from burrow is minimum 4.9, maximum 8.3.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- Bramblett, R.G., and A.V. Zale. 2002. Montana Prairie Riparian Native Species Report. Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Montana State University - Bozeman.
- Carlsen, T. and R. Northrup. 1992. Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area Final Draft Management Plan. March 1992.
- Clark, T.W. 1970. Richardson's ground squirrel (Spermophilus richardsonii) in the Laramie basin, Wyoming. Great Basin Naturalist 30: 55-70.
- Confluence Consulting Inc. 2010. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT.
- Confluence Consulting Inc. 2011. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT.
- Confluence Consulting Inc. 2012. Montana Department of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports (various sites). MDT Helena, MT.
- Elliott, Joe C. and Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT., 1994, Supplement to wildlife baseline investigation life-of-mine expansion plan: Regal Mine, Barretts Minerals, Inc., Madison County, Montana. August 2000. In Life-of Mine Expansion Plan: Barretts Minerals, Inc., Regal Mine, Madison County, Montana. Vol. 2. App. C: Baseline Wildlife Reconnaissance. December 1999.
- Eng, R.L. 1976. Wildlife Baseline Study [for West Fork of the Stillwater and Picket Pin drainages]
- Fagerstone, K.A. 1987. Comparison of Vocalizations between and within Spermophilus Elegans Elegans and S. Richardsonii. Journal of Mammalogy. 68(4): 853-857, 1987.
- Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammologists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 pp.
- Graham, Dean, and Craig Swick., 1977, A Field evaluation of the cyclone seeder for reducing Richardson ground squirrel populations causing damage in central Montana . August 1977.
- Hoffmann, R.S. and D.L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. University of Montana, Missoula. 133 pp.
- Koeppl, J.W. and R.S. Hoffman. 1981. Comparative postnatal growth of four ground squirrel species. Journal of Mammalogy. 62(1): 41-57.
- Koeppl, J.W., R.S. Hoffmann and C.F. Nadler. 1978. Pattern analysis of acoustical behavior in four species of ground squirrels. Journal of Mammalogy. 59(4): 677-696.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Johnson - Valier, Valier, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.018. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Ringling - Galt, Ringling, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.015. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: South Fork Smith River, Ringling, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.016. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Michener, Gail R. and James W. Koeppl. 1985. Spermophilus richardsonii. American Society of Mammalogists, Lawrence, KS. Mammalian Species No. 243:1-8.
- Montana Dept. of Agriculture, Environmental Management Division, Helena, MT. 1885? The Biology and control of the Richardson ground squirrel.
- Morrison-Maierle Env. Corp., Helena, MT., 1993, Biological assessment and wildlife reconnaissance, Holnam Cement Plant, Trident, Montana. In Application to Amend Operating Permit 00004 for Trident Quarries, Three Forks, Montana. Exhibit DD: Wildlife Reconnaisance Study. June 28, 1996.
- Reid, F. 2006. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, 608 pp.
- Sawyer, H. E. 1935. Studies on the rodents of Montana. M.A. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 111 pp.
- Schladweiler, Philip, and John P. Weigand., 1983, Relationships of endrin and other chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds to wildlife in Montana, 1981-1982. September 1983.
- Sullins, Monty, 1981, A Field comparison of 0.20, 0.35, and 0.50 percent strychnine grain baits for controlling Richardson ground squirrels. Tech. Rep. 81-3. July 1981.
- Sullivan, Daniel, and Monty Sullins., 1985, Acceptance of various rodenticide baits under field conditions by Columbian and Richardson Ground squirrels. Tech. Rep. 85-05. Sept. 1985.
- Swenson, J.E. 1981. Distribution of Richardson's Ground Squirrel in eastern Montana. Prairie Naturalist. 13(1): 27-30.
- Urban, Larry, 2002, Biological Resources Report: Wagner Pit Wetland Restoration Site. Proj. No. STPX 56(50) CN 4645. February 23, 2002. In Wgner Pit WS#13 Upper Yellowstone, Yellowstone County. Fin. Dist. 5 AdminDist 5.
- Western Technology & Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH)., 1991, 1991 Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Terrestrial Wildlife Monitoring Study. In Meridian Minerals Company Bull Mountains Mine No. 1 Permit Application, Musselshell County, Montana. Vol. 7 of 14: Section 26
- Zackheim, K. 1973. Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Mammals"