About European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) Danube Delta
The European Ground Squirrel is a small rodent, with a length of no more than 30 centimetres. Its body is oblong and slender, with a tail between 5, 5 and 7 cm. The colour of its fur is generally beige. On its backside, the light brown fur is combined with a greyish fur.
The European Ground Squirrel needs a habitat made up of wide areas, such as the ones from the steppe areas, but it can be, also, found in the areas with cultivated fields. The European Ground Squirrel lives in colonies, but each specimen has its own tunnel system. These tunnels are dug at the surface or in depth, but no deeper than 1, 20 m.
On average, the total length of a tunnel system measures between 8 and 10 m. These systems are tortuous and they have many secret entrances. In springtime they begin their mating rituals. During this period, the males become aggressive and they fight for territories and females. The female gives birth to 4 or 5 cubs, after a 25 to 28 days pregnancy. Nursing lasts for 6 months and the cubs reach maturity after 1 year.
The European Ground Squirrel is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of seeds, cereals, insects or small vertebrates. It does not store its food, but it will keep it in its two small jaw pockets. After reaching its tunnel system, the European Ground Squirrel will then eat safely. The European Ground Squirrel represents the main source of nutrition for some endangered predatory birds. Due to this fact, this little mammals benefits from increased protection.