Habitat

The ground-dwelling squirrels occupy a wide variety of habitat types including desert, prairie, savanna, shrub, temperate forests, subalpine forests, rocky slopes, alpine meadows, and arctic tundra. Chipmunks are most often associated with forests and some will nest in trees. The rest of the ground-dwelling squirrels are mostly terrestrial but are capable of climbing trees or shrubs for access to food or fleeing predators. Nearly all ground-dwelling squirrels construct underground burrows and therefore prefer well-drained sandy or gravelly soils that are not compacted. In cold alpine or arctic climates, permafrost limits the extent of burrowing habitat.

Except for the chipmunks, dense shrubs or closed forests are typically avoided. Ground-dwelling squirrels largely rely on visual detection of their predators and dense vegetation obscures their vision putting them at risk of attack by predators. Stumps, boulders, and other climbable objects provide perches for ground squirrels to survey their surroundings for predators.

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