Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

July 1994


The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is a slender rat-sized rodent weighing about 8 ounces (227 g) with a length of about 10 inches (25 cm) including a tail of 3 inches (8 cm). As its name implies, 13 stripes run the length of this ground squirrel’s body. Five of the light-colored lines break up into a series of spots as they progress down the back and over the rump. Five light and four dark stripes extend along the top of the head and end between the animal’s eyes. The cheeks, sides of the body, and legs are yellowish, tan, or tan with an orange cast. The chest and belly are thinly covered with light tan fur. Each front foot has four toes with long slender digging claws. There are five toes on each hind foot. Some of the common or colloquial names for this species include “thirteen-liners,” “stripers,” “striped ground squirrels,” “striped gophers,” and “gophers.”
Range The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is a grassland animal. Its original range was limited to the prairies of the North American Great Plains. When Europeans arrived and started clearing forests and establishing pastures, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel was quick to extend its range into the new habitat. Today, it ranges from central Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan in the north to Texas and New Mexico in the south, and from central Ohio in the east to Colorado in the west (Fig. 2). The forests of the Appalachian Highlands and the Rocky Mountains have halted their east/west range expansion. There are a few colonies in Venango County, Pennsylvania, the result of introductions made in 1919.
Exclusion: Buried galvanized hardware cloth is effective, but very expensive.
Cultural Methods: Destroy burrows and habitat by deep soil tillage. Allow growth of tall rank vegetation. Plant as early as conditions permit before squirrels emerge from hibernation. Provide alternative foods in minimumtillage fields.
Repellents: None are registered
Toxicants: Zinc phosphide.
Fumigants: Aluminum phosphide. Gas cartridges.
Trapping: Live traps. Glue boards. Wooden-base rat-sized snap traps. Leghold and body-gripping traps. Snares.
Shooting: Effective if persistent.
Other Methods: Burrow flooding.