Golden-mantle ground squirrels are the most distinctively-marked ground squirrel in Oregon. Black and white ‘racing’ stripes extend from the shoulder to the hip. The head is russet with a bright orangish-gold face, shoulders, front legs, and feet.

Golden-mantle ground squirrel,
courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife


Ground squirrels are found in dryer areas across Oregon and many states. They favor dry rocky areas, and the edges of meadows, tundra, and forest openings. Golden-mantles are very common throughout their range.

Big Cheeks

Golden-mantles must build body fat to survive hibernation. In the summer, they are busy filling their nearby underground food cache. They carry food with enlarged cheek pouches. If a predator threatens, squirrels will drop pouch contents to run faster.


Predators include coyotes, weasels, bobcats, badgers, snakes, foxes, hawks, grizzly bears, cougars, and sometimes dogs.


They eat just about anything including plant materials (buds, seeds, nuts, roots), many kinds of insects, eggs, young birds, lizards, nuts, mushrooms, and human food. Wildlife feeding is a chronic problem at picnic areas.


Ground squirrels make bold vocal calls, screeching, chirps, growls, and squeals. Sounds include: Screeching predator warnings, aggressive territory fights, and mating season calls.

Fun Facts

Golden-mantle ground squirrels will roll in the dust and comb itself with its teeth and claws to clean its brilliantly colored coat.

Squirrels are good jumpers and sprinters, and Golden-mantles are no exception. Squirrels have muscular back legs, double-jointed ankles, and sharp claws. Depending on the species, squirrels can vertically jump 5 feet and leap over 10 feet. They can run over 8 mph!

–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (
–National Park Service, Ground squirrels ( and golden-mantle ground squirrels (
–Wikipedia, Ground Squirrels (
–How high can squirrels jump? (

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