• Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

    Bryce Canyon

    National Park Utah

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  • U.S. Highway 89 Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon

    Road damage south of Page, Arizona will impact travel between Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. Click for a travel advisory and link to a map with suggested alternate routes: More »

  • Sunset Campground Construction

    From April-July 2014, three new restroom facilities will be constructed in Sunset Campground. Visitors may experience construction noise and dust, as well as some campsite and restroom closures. 'Sunset Campground' webpage has additional information. More »

  • Bryce Point to Peekaboo Connector Trail Closure

    Due to a large rockslide, the connecting trail from Bryce Point to Peekaboo Loop is closed. Trail will be reopened once repairs are made. The Peekaboo Loop is open, but must be accessed from Sunset or Sunrise Point.

  • Wall Street Section of Navajo Loop Closed

    Due to dangerous conditions (falling rock and treacherous, icy switchbacks), the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail is CLOSED. It will reopen in Spring once freezing temperatures have subsided.

  • Backcountry Campsite Closures

    Due to bear activity at select campsites in Bryce Canyon's backcountry, two backcountry campsites have been closed until further notice: Sheep Creek and Iron Spring.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Common Name: Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Scientific Name: Spermophilus lateralis
Size (length) English & Metric: 9"-12" (23-30cm)
Habitat: All forest types
Diet: seeds, nuts, berries, insects, underground fungi
Predators: hawks, jays, weasels, fox, bobcats, coyotes
 
Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel sitting near the rim

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

NPS

Identification:
Nineteen species of ground squirrels occur in North America. Bryce Canyon is home to two species, the Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and the Rock Squirrel. It is hard to mistake the two as the Rock Squirrel is usually twice the size of the Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and lacks the Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel's stripes along its sides. The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel can be identified by its chipmunk-like stripes and coloration, but unlike chipmunks, it lacks any facial stripes. It is commonly found living in the same habitat as Uinta Chipmunks.

Biology & Behavior:
The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel is similar to chipmunks in more than just its appearance. Although it is a traditional hibernator, building up its body fat to survive the winter asleep, it is also known to store some food in its burrow, like the chipmunk, for consumption upon waking in the spring. Both the Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and the chipmunk have cheek pouches for carrying food. Cheek pouches allow them to transport food back to their nests and still run at full speed on all fours. By comparison, when a squirrel is threatened by a predator, it has to drop its food if it wants to make a quick getaway.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels dig shallow burrows up to 100 ft (30m) in length with the openings hidden in a hollow log or under tree roots or a boulder. The female gives birth to a single litter of 4-6 young each summer.

Conservation Issues:
The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel is abundant throughout its range and is equally at home in a wide variety of forest habitats as well as rocky meadows, and even sagebrush flats. While the species as a whole is in no danger of extinction, individuals routinely suffer at the hands of humans with misguided good intentions. Feeding wildlife has become a chronic problem throughout America's National Parks.

Click here to learn more about the dangers of feeding wildlife.

When and Where to see Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels at Bryce Canyon:
The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels can be found throughout the park. They are "trip over" common at picnic areas and overlooks where they become accustomed to being fed by irresponsible park visitors.

Sources:
Whitaker, John O. 1996. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. p937.

Did You Know?

Temple-like spires can be seen in the main amphitheater at Bryce

March 13, 1919: A Utah Joint Memorial passed legislation which read in part: We urge that the Congress of the United States set aside for the use and enjoyment of the people a suitable area embracing "Bryce's Canyon" as a national monument under the name: "Temple of the Gods National Monument." More...