North Dakota Ground Squirrels
North Dakota is sometimes referred to as the “Flickertail State”, a reference to the Richardson’s ground squirrel (Flickertail), a ground squirrel that is common throughout much of the state. Did you know that there is another ground squirrel in the state that looks very similar to the Flickertail? The Franklin’s ground squirrel, like the Richardson’s, can be found in areas of the state north and east of the Missouri River. These two species are of similar size and appearance, so how can you tell the difference?
Franklin’s ground squirrels tend to prefer dense, grassy vegetation while Richardson’s prefer open grasslands with grazed or short grasses. Franklin’s are much less social than Richardson’s who tend to be colonial. Both habitat and social preferences mean that you can spot Richardson’s in the state much more often than Franklin’s.
Franklin’s ground squirrels have a bushier tail than Richardson’s, and their coats are more grey than the buff color of Richardson’s.
So next time you’re out and about and spot one of these ground squirrels, take a closer look and see if you can figure out which species it is.
Pictured: Richardson's in the first photo, Franklin's in the second.