Poliocitellus franklinii
(Sabine, 1822)

pO-lE-O-sit-tell-us frAnk-lin-I

Kansas Species in Need of Conservation (SINC)

An adult Franklin's Ground Squirrel.

Franklin's ground squirrel is differentiated from spotted and thirteen-lined ground squirrels by its larger size and dark color, and from the gray squirrel by its smaller, less bushy tail and smaller ears. It can be distinguished from other members of its family by: 1) brownish gray upperparts with yellowish cast on the rump, and black speckling which produces a botched or transverse barred effect on the dorsum, 2) head and neck darker than the back, 3) tail gray with a blackish terminal band, and 4) dark gray feet. In color and size the sexes are alike; the young, however, are darker than the adults. As in other ground squirrels, this squirrel has internal cheek pouches. It has particularly well developed anal musk glands. Males are somewhat larger than females.

Franklin's Ground Squirrel inhabits the eastern half of Kansas. It extends westward along riparian vegetation in the northern part of the state and is associated with the zone where tall grass prairie and deciduous forests come into contact. It prefers the sheltered cover of dense grasses, weedy fields and wastelands, and shrubby forest edges.

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 40 Total Records 
  • 40 Museum Vouchers 
  • 0 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (1); Douglas (20); Jewell (3); Lyon (1); Phillips (5); Pottawatomie (1); Riley (1); Saline (1); Trego (2); Wyandotte (5);

Natural History:
Franklin's ground squirrel is an uncommon animal in Kansas. This species is poorly known due to its wary nature, the way it conceals itself in its habitat of dense grass and shrubs, and its inconspicuous retreat to its den when disturbed. It has several calls, but seldom uses them when approached. Even though it is strictly a diurnal mammal and is active most of the day, Franklin's ground squirrel spends a large amount of time underground. Although it may live in associations of ten or more individuals, colonies of 50 to 100 are known. The species is more social than the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. It is primarily terrestrial, but climbs low shrubs and occasionally trees. Its den has one or two deep entrance holes that lead into an extensive set of subterranean burrows that support a nest and storage cavities. The nest is approximately 2.5 meters below the surface. The entrance slopes into the ground and is bordered by a mound of dirt. Franklin's ground squirrels are reported to shift colony location on occasion during the course of a season, but very little is known about their movements. During hot weather these squirrels may aestivate. Stores of fat are accumulated in autumn for hibernation. Adult males generally enter hibernation first, followed by females, and finally, the young of the year. Hibernation thus occurs from the last of July to September and extends until April or later. Males emerge from hibernation before females in Spring.
Adults may attain the following dimensions: total length 363-412 mm; tail 123-160 mm; hind foot 42-61 mm; ear 13-18 mm; weight 369-540 grams.
Green vegetation, seeds, grass, insects and some small vertebrates form the principal food of Franklin's ground squirrel. They are regarded as important predators of ground-nesting birds of some areas.
This squirrel breeds in late April or May, and in May or June gives birth to from two to thirteen (usually six to nine) blind, naked, young after a gestation period of 28 days. In sixteen days the young are furred. After 27 days their eyes open and two days later they begin to forage for their own food. Dispersal from the nest follows about two weeks later. Both sexes mature the following spring.

Occurrence Activity:
The badger, coyote, foxes, weasels, snakes, and hawks prey upon this squirrel. Maximum longevity is considered to be five or six years.

2009 Helgen, Kristofer M., F. Russell Cole, Lauren E. Helgen, Don E. Wilson Generic revision in the holarctic ground squirrel genus Spermophilus Journal of Mammalogy 90(2):270-305
Account Last Updated:
7/13/2017 10:14:28 AM

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