How to Recognize Ground Squirrel Sounds

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How to Recognize Ground Squirrel Sounds. Ground squirrels emit some of the most varied sounds in the rodent family. Being able to identify their calls will help you to identify the animal and what they are looking for.

Notice the number of distinct sounds the animal makes. Ground squirrels have sophisticated and varied systems of communication. If an animal makes only one consistent sound, then it probably isn't a ground squirrel.

Listen to the sound the animal makes when it is alarmed. Most ground squirrels will let out a sharp, metallic-sounding chirp when frightened or startled. They will repeat these chirps in quick succession as they leap for their burrows.

Note the sound it makes when it seeks safety. Once safe in its burrow, a ground squirrel will make low clicking sounds at regular intervals, depending on the distance from or severity of the danger.

Expect to see the ground squirrel making sounds without actually hearing anything. Most likely, he is making a sound beyond human hearing range. Recently, scientists discovered that squirrels use ultrasonic calls to alert each other to danger. These calls can be accurately directed toward a particular individual. Often the predator triggering the alarm can't hear the warning.

Observe any predators in the area. Different calls will alert squirrels to different predators, although many of the specifics, such as length and pitch, depends on the species of squirrel. High-pitched squeals are thought to alert the colony to a flying predator, such as a hawk or kite, while multiple-note calls--often referred to as "chatter-chat" calls--alert the squirrel colony to a threat from the ground.

Determine whether the sound is coming from the ground or a tree. Tree squirrel sounds are similar to ground squirrel sounds, and many bird calls also sound like ground squirrel communication. For example, blue jays make distinct chattering sounds that are similar to ground squirrel chatter, and mocking birds will deliberately imitate the sounds of squirrels to confuse their predators.

Tips & Warnings

  • While you are learning to recognize ground squirrel sounds, maintain a respectful distance. In addition to being carriers of various diseases, ground squirrels may bite if they feel their homes are being invaded by potential predators.
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