13-Lined Ground Squirrels

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Spermophilus tridecemilineatus


Ground squirrels have shorter, less bushy tails and live underground. In fact, they’re sometimes called gophers (especially in the Midwest). These are nervous, excitable pests who prefer to stay close to home. They are, typically, found near burrows. Logically, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel is an excellent digger. This is one reason it spends time underground.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is a common pest in and around building foundations, golf courses, gardens and lawns. Their primary seasons for activity are early spring until mid fall. When inactive, the ground squirrel is hibernating underground. Upon emerging in the spring, the first order of duty is to mate. It takes about a month before females give birth. Preferred habitats of the thirteen-lined ground squirrel are open fields and brushy areas.

Their diet consists mostly of seeds, fruits, roots, green vegetation and insects. This presents problems in cultivated areas where there are newly planted seeds and other vegetation for ready consumption.


Females give birth to an average of 10 offspring. They produce one litter per year. The young become sexually mature after nine to 10 months.

Signs of a 13-Lined Ground Squirrel Infestation

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels are most known for their damage to plants. Their feeding damage as well as soil disturbed by their digging are the most likely signs, besides seeing the squirrels themselves.

More Information

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemilineatus) is a member of order Rodentia and family Sciuridae. Although the mention of a squirrel may conjure thoughts of a gray rodent with bushy tail performing acrobatics in a tree, the ground squirrel is quite different. This family member is more a distant cousin of the daredevil we are most familiar with.

If thirteen-lined ground squirrels have invaded an area of land near to you, they can be controlled where permitted. Some states have restrictions on control methods permitted, and control activities may require a permit. The squirrel may be protected to varying degrees by some states. As always, it’s recommended to consult a pest control professional prior to attempting to control any pest population.