The rock squirrel belongs to the ground squirrel family, but it can be seen climbing boulders, rocks, and trees. It is typically 17-21 inches long, with a tail length up to 8 inches—almost half the length of its body. Rock squirrels are grayish-brown, with some patches of cinnamon brown color. Zion's boulders and cliffs provide an ideal habitat for rock squirrels to build their homes in. They use large rocks as lookouts to scan for predators or other dangers, warning their kin with loud whistles or chirps that can be confused with bird calls.
A common place to see these squirrels is on the Riverside Walk trail. Squirrels in Zion are fortunate to have a constant source of water, but even when they are away from a water source, they prove themselves to be hardy survivors. Rock squirrels have been observed in the desert surviving for up to one hundred days without water.
Although they may look cute and come right up to you, please remember that squirrels are wild animals—don't feed them, and keep your distance—because they can bite! In addition, human food is hard for rock squirrels to digest, and feeding them has led to several squirrel fatalities. These squirrels have been known to get into backpacks, lunch pails, and trash cans, and to steal food right out of visitors' hands. You can help keep wildlife wild by not feeding or touching them.
Learn what you should know when Encountering Wildlife
Last updated: September 24, 2021