Columbian ground squirrel

Urocitellus columbianus

The Columbian ground squirrel , is a species of rodent common in certain regions of Canada and the northwestern United States. It is the second largest member of the genus ''Urocitellus'', which is part of the tribe Marmotini, along with marmots, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and other holarctic ground squirrels. They are stout, with short dense fur, which is characteristically tawny across the bridge of the nose. Social encounters often are initiated with kissing behavior and the most common activity above ground is standing at attention. Residing in mountainous terrain and high plains in northern latitudes, they hibernate most of the year in underground burrows, which may be used for many years. They are emaciated when emerging in the spring. These long periods of torpor earned the squirrels the moniker "Seven Sleepers", since the rests last around seven months. The Columbian ground squirrel came to the attention of the scientific community through writings produced by Lewis and Clark, while 21st century molecular genetics has more finely illuminated its ties with other close relatives.