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Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Mammals Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)

Rock Squirrels (Otospermophilus variegatus) are large, day-active ground squirrels with a head and body of 10-12 inches, and a somewhat bushy tail of 7-10 inches. The pelage is grayish-brown, often a bit grayer on the neck and shoulders, and with faint gray spots on the back and flanks giving them a mottled (variegated) appearance.

Rock Squirrels are creatures of rocky desert areas and rocky canyons, occurring from southern Nevada to Wyoming and south into Texas and Mexico. Look for them in areas where they have boulders to burrow under in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) Life Zones.

Taxonomy: Formerly Spermophilus variegatus.

Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)

Around Las Vegas, look for Rock Squirrels around campgrounds and picnic areas. Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks seem to have a plethora of Rock Squirrels, but they can also be found in lower-elevation areas closer to home such as Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Although Rock Squirrels are "ground squirrels," they climb trees quite well.

Rock Squirrels can carry bubonic plague, so avoid setting up camp on or near their burrows.

For more information, see the Animal Diversity Website.

Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus) If you were a tasty nut or a big seed, this might be the last face you ever see!
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Notice the gray spots sprinkled around in the gray-brown fur
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Rock Squirrel heading for home at a full gallop
rock squirrel
Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim
Rock Squirrel
Juvenile Rock Squirrel; photo by Nick Nelson; central Nevada
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Southern Arizona
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Zion National Park, Utah
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Zion National Park, UT
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Big Bend, Texas
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Big Bend, Texas
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Big Bend, Texas
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Big Bend, Texas
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Zion National Park, Utah
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Zion National Park, Utah
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Zion National Park, Utah
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag; southern Utah
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag; southern Utah
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on backpacking food-storage bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Criminal attack on food-storage bag was unsuccessful ...
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
... but it found some nuts in the trash bag
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
This squirrel was so focused to a pair of Golden Eagles soaring by, that is didn't notice me coming up behind it.
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
After the Golden Eagles were out of view, this squirrel turned around, saw me, and quickly bolted for a hole under a boulder.
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
This Rock Squirrel
Rock Squirrel (Otospermophilus variegatus)
This Rock Squirrel is a bit redder than most

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2015 Jim Boone; Last updated 150315

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