Ground Squirrels

Ictidomys; Urocitellus; Spermophilus

Wyoming ground squirrel

Wyoming ground squirrel (JTchagbele, Wikimedia Commons)

Belding's ground squirrel

Belding's ground squirrel (Yathin S. Krishnappa, Wikimedia Commons)

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrel damage (Mary Burrows, Montana State University,


  • bodies up to 11 inches long
  • tails 2 – 9 inches long and less fluffy than a tree squirrel’s
  • brownish-gray fur
  • burrow openings about 4 inches in diameter

Nesting Habits

  • live in colonies and build underground burrow systems
  • populations range from 2 to 20 squirrels per acre
  • active during the day
  • hibernate during cold winter months
  • burrows 5 to 30 or more feet long; 2 to 6 feet below soil surface; no soil plugs
  • more than one squirrel can live in a burrow


  • grasses, alfalfa, grains, ornamental plants, seeds and nuts


  • burrowing activity can destroy lawns and other vegetation, collapse ditch banks and undermine building foundations
  • carry a wide range of diseases
  • strip bark from young trees

IPM Recommendations

  • If populations are small, use box traps, tunnel traps or Conibear traps when squirrels are active (February - October).
  • Periodically monitor for signs of infestation, such as new burrows, to manage before the population becomes too large.
  • Pre-bait (bait traps without setting them) for a few days before setting traps.
  • Bait with anticoagulants or zinc phosphide. Use bait boxes in sensitive areas.
  • Remove brush piles and debris.