When you are walking in a natural area, you might catch a glimpse of something small darting up a tree or into a burrow. Rodents tend to be quite skittish, and hard to spot because they're quick and small. If you thought you saw stripes, narrowing down exactly what the animal was might be a little easier, because few rodent species have stripes.
Common mice in North America are rarely striped. Central and southern Africa, however, has the African striped grass mouse. This small rodent prefers a habitat with plenty of grass cover, and it can be a valuable pollinator as it moves from one flower to the next to feed on the plant matter. The striped grass mouse has a tail as long as its body and is covered with brown and black stripes across its back.
To help them camouflage in tall grasses, many ground squirrels have stripes. The 13-lined ground squirrel, sometimes called a striped gopher, is commonly found in most areas of the central United States. This rodent sports six off-white stripes alternating with seven brown ones, broken up by a row of light colored spots. From its underground tunnels, the ground squirrel often eats the roots or bulbs of plants, causing problems for gardeners.
Tropical climates also sport striped ground squirrels. In Borneo, the four-striped ground squirrel faces endangerment because of habitat loss. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are home to the three-striped ground squirrel. Both of these animals have larger, bushier tales than their North American counterpart.
The common North American tree squirrel rarely has stripes, but some squirrels in other areas of the world do. The Indian palm squirrel has a mixture of black and cream stripes across its back. It is native to India and Sri Lanka and also been introduced to Australia. The similar northern or five-striped palm squirrel can be found throughout India, Iran, Nepal and Pakistan. Both of these squirrels make their homes primarily in trees.
Chipmunks, members of the squirrel family, are set apart by the way they gather food. These rodents are known for their ability to stuff their cheek pouches full of seeds and grains to take back to their burrows to feed their young or to store for the winter. All but one of the 25 species of chipmunk are found in North America, and all have stripes across their backs and sometimes their tails. They range in size from under from less than 8 inches long for the least chipmunk to up to 11 inches for the Eastern chipmunk.
- EcoTravel: Facts About the Striped Mouse
- Debonaire Exotic Animals: African Striped Grass Mouse
- Forest Preserve District of Cook County (Illinois): Ground Squirrels and Gophers; Seymour Simon and Ronald Eisenbeis; April 1966
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lariscus hosei
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lariscus insignis
- A-Z Animals: Indian Palm Squirrel
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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