Richardson's Ground Squirrels

Richardson's Ground Squirrels
(also known as gophers)

Richardson's ground squirrels (Urocitellus richardsonii, formerly Spermophilus richardsonii) are medium-sized, ground-dwelling mammals found on the prairies of North America. These rodents are called gophers throughout much of their geographic range, but other names such as prairie gopher, picket-pin, or flickertail are used in various parts of North America. Occasionally Richardson's ground squirrels are confused with prairie dogs, and some pet stores (especially in Europe) erroneously sell Richardson's ground squirrels under the name prairie dog.  See Similar Species and see Richardson's ground squirrels as Pets

Richardson's ground squirrel litter-mates aged about 5 weeks greeting each other

Richardson's ground squirrels are fascinating animals that play an important role in the prairie ecosystem. The goal of this web site is to familiarize readers with various aspects of the biology of Richardson's ground squirrels. The site is designed for general use by anyone interested in Richardson's ground squirrels. In addition, many links are given to original research data for the benefit of readers seeking more in-depth knowledge.

Use the drop-down menus across the top of the page to select your topic of interest.

The majority of the information arises from a long-term on-going behavioural-ecology research project conducted by Dr. Gail R. Michener, Professor Emeritus,  Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge, at three sites over a 30-year period in southern Alberta, Canada.  Dr. Michener can be contacted at

Dr. Michener with Richardson's ground squirrel
Dr. Gail Michener and a Richardson's ground squirrel that was born and raised in captivity. The majority of Gail Michener's research is conducted in the field with free-living ground squirrels. Photograph by Bernie Wirzba, University of Lethbridge.

Five former University of Lethbridge (U of L) students contributed to the development of this web page:

  • Chelsea Pickett (B.Sc., U of L, 2004) Chelsea prepared the original web information in 2001.
  • Nina Kleissen (AHT, NAIT 2004; U of L student 2005-2007) Nina updated the web information in 2006.
  • Jon Lane (B.Sc., U of L, 2000) Jon designed and mounted the web page in 2007.
  • Brian Lutchmeesingh (B.F.A., U of L, 2004) Brian created the visual layout for the current web site.
  • Joshua Schroeder (B.Mgt., U of L, 2006) Josh adapted content to the site design and created an interactive back-end.


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