Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A worldwide community photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Arctic Ground Squirrel

Spermophilus parryii


From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Arctic ground squirrels are the largest of the North American ground squirrel species, ranging from 524 up to 1,500 grams in weight, and 332 to 495 mm in length. They undergo seasonal changes in body mass and lose weight during hibernation. They exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males being larger than females. Body mass drastically varies seasonally, between summer foraging bouts and winter hibernation. They have tawny brown coloration with white flecks on the dorsal side of the pelage and a light tan or beige coloration on their undersides. Their undersides lighten during winter months. Cylindrical in shape with short, strong forearms and hind legs, the arctic ground squirrel is built for burrowing and digging. They have sharp claws and soft pads on the undersides of the hands which aid them in manipulating food and dirt. Their heads and ears are rounded, and their tails are relatively short compared to other squirrel species.


Mountain slopes, river flats, banks, lakeshores and tundra ridges of the arctic tundra. Ground squirrels live in sandy soil due to easy digging and good drainage.


Another backpacker that saw me with my camera told me not to miss the great shots of the prarie dogs up ahead. Come to find out, there are no actual prarie dogs in Alaska, but these ground squirrels have a similar look.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Musicwolf 7 years ago

@Jim Nelson - You have no idea, I've taken hundreds of scenic photos in addition to all of the animals.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 7 years ago

Nice spotting Musicwolf...I envy you being in Alaska. There has to be plenty of photo ops on every hike.

Musicwolf 7 years ago

Thank you! It sure was fun spotting them.

DanielePralong 7 years ago

Congratulations Musicwolf, your Arctic Ground Squirrel is our Spotting of the Day!

"Last week we introduced you to the central Asian Russet ground squirrel (Spermophilus major). Here's another member of the same genus with our Spotting of the Day, an Arctic Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus parryii). The Arctic ground squirrel is native to the North American and Siberian Arctic tundra. It is the only squirrel species in this harsh environment. During hibernation, its brain temperature can drop to just above freezing and its heart rate down to ~1beat per minute!"



torrance.leef 7 years ago

I like it

torrance.leef 7 years ago

nice pichr

jonathan.voghell 7 years ago


Spotted by

Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Spotted on May 23, 2017
Submitted on May 24, 2017

Related Spottings

Rock Squirrel California Ground Squirrel Columbian Ground Squirrel 13-Lined Ground Squirrel

Nearby Spottings

Golden-crowned Sparrow Barrow's Goldeneye Mountain Goats Spotting
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team