The Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus) is a small arboreal (tree) rodent mammal.
The Rock Squirrel has speckled grey-black fur. It has a long, bushy tail, short feet with short claws, a small nose with whiskers, and small rounded ears. Its eyes have light-coloured eye-rings.
It grows to about 53 centimetres (21 inches) long. Its tail measures 13-18 centimetres (5-7 inches).
The Rock Squirrel is native to Mexico and south-western United States of America. It prefers to live in oak, pine, or pistachio forests.
It is diurnal, active during the day. It is herbivorous, eating nuts, seeds, tree shoots and buds. It stores its food in tree cavities or in loose soil to eat later. It lives in trees, but forages for food on the ground.
The Rock Squirrel is social, living in colonies. It lives in dens underground, beneath rocks, which are lined with moss and leaves. It hibernates in winter.
The female Rock Squirrel has 3-9 young, which become fully grown by five or six months of age.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM