Friday, December 3, 2010

Close encounter with an Antelope Ground Squirrel today.

At the Valley of Fire today, this little guy came running up to my group with absolutely no fear at all. It is a White-tailed Antelope Ground Squirrel. One of my guests pulled a soda cracker out of her purse and crumbled it up and put it on the ground. We were able to get real close with our cameras, the closest I had ever been able to get.

After close observation of the squirrels behavior, I was able to feed it out of my hand. It was so cute. It would get a chunk of cracker and run off and hide it under a rock, and then run back for more. It wasn't completely tame however, as it would scurry away at any quick movements or loud noises.

In this close-up you can see how the squirrel uses its tail like a small umbrella, bending it back to protect itself from the harsh rays of the sun. When it is extremely hot, the Antelope Ground Squirrel goes down into its burrow and becomes very inactive, restricting its activity.

Caution: remember that it is a good idea not to handle small rodents in most cases as they can carry viruses and can bite you when you least expect it.

This is one of the ways that the Antelope Ground Squirrel cools down on hot summer days. It will lay flat out on the ground in the shade and cool it's body down.

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