Last week it looked like the neighboring ranch was raising ground squirrels and this week there are no squirrels to be found. The neighbor isn't treating for those nasty diggers, so where did the ground squirrels go?
Blame it on Hibernation or Estivation
The squirrels didn't actually disappear; California ground squirrels may go dormant two times a year.
Hibernation - when most of us think of hibernation, bears come to mind. In California, like some bears, ground squirrels usually hibernate during the winter. If the weather is mild, like in Southern California, they may skip hibernating. The amount of time spent underground varies. Some emerge from their burrows at the end of January and others wait until March. Often the male ground squirrels emerge 10 to 14 days before the females.
Estivation is like hibernation but in the summer time. When it is a super hot or dry time, the ground squirrels typically stay in their burrows until temperatures are more bearable. That means that in California, you generally won't see many adult ground squirrels in July and August. The younger ones often skip estivating and are out and about their first summer of life. In the higher elevations, most all ground squirrels estivate.
It's funny, I know some people who stay inside in the coldest part of the winter and rarely go out during hottest part of the summer. Maybe some humans hibernate and estivate, too!
If you have questions about ground squirrels or prairie dogs and how to control their over-populations, please call (925) 634-9204 or email me.
Another option is visiting me in person. If you need California DPR continuing education units, I'll be speaking at the upcoming PAPA Seminars:
9/05/19 Santa Maria
10/22/19 Long Beach
11/06/19 San Jose