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Harris's antelope squirrel        Images © Mark A. Chappell

The antelope squirrels are five species of small, pale, arid-coungry ground squirrels from the southwestern US and adjacent regions of Mexico (genus Ammospermophilus).   They are among the few small desert mammals that remain active aboveground on hot summer days (this has been well studied in the white-tailed antelope squirrel from the Mojave desert).   All of the antelope squirrels carry their tail tightly curled over their backs and the pale undertail -- the source of the 'antelope' name -- may serve as a reflector and sunshade.  It's also a signal, as it is frequently flicked rapidly.  These are Harris's antelope squirrels, from the Sonoran desert.   They were photographed near Tucson, Arizona.   Some were shy and some were fairly confiding, but all stayed close to the shade of bushes and cacti.   One is eating the fruit of a cactus, carefully working around the spines.

Other pages have pictures of the slightly larger and much rarer San Joaquin antelope squirrel (A. nelsoni) and the common, widely distributed white-tailed antelope squirrel (A. leucurus).

  • digital captures, Canon 1D4, 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, some with fill-in flash (2011)