Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Endemic to the most western part of North Africa, in Western Sahara, Morocco and a small area of northwestern Algeria (Ksours Mountains). Ranges from the coastal zone up to 4,165 m mainly in the Middle and High Atlas south to Agadir, in the Anti Atlas and in the northern edge of the western Sahara, south to Sequiat el Hamra. Introduced to Fuenteventura (Canary Islands) in 1965.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Inhabit stony regions and open habitats from mountain slopes to desert. Avoiding bare areas and forests, they are common in open country with scattered trees and bushes of Juniper (Juniperus spp.), Thuya (Tetraclinis articulata) and Argan (Argania spinosa). Shelter in burrows excavated under rocks or among stones in screes consolidated by vegetation. Also present in various agricultural habitats, favoured by stone walls where they can seek refuge. Even though they require permanent water in the south, they never enter irrigated fields. Diurnal, and social, with the most simple family unit composed of a single female with her young. Litter size: at least four. Capable of producing two litters per year.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals. Six wild born specimens kept in captivity were about 10-11 years old when they disappeared (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Aulagnier, S.

Reviewer/s
Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This is a widespread species, occurs in a variety of habitats (including anthropogenically disturbed habitats), and common wherever it occurs. Introduced outside of its range, where it has become a pest species. No major threats, and safely considered Least Concern.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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Population

Population
Abundant in the lower slopes and valleys, they are still very common up to 2,000 m in the Grand Atlas; above this, densities decrease with increasing altitude. Densities also decrease dramatically in the eastern part of the range. Some local patches can be numerous in desert region. Population fluctuations are suspected to occur.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats. Widespread within its range, and uses poor agricultural habitats. On Fuenteventura (where they are introduced), they are regarded as a pest; it is forbidden to transport animals from one island to another as they prey on the endemic invertebrates, such as snails.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Occurs in Toubkal National Park in Morocco and probably in other protected areas, too.
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Wikipedia

Barbary ground squirrel

The Barbary ground squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae. It is monotypic within the genus Atlantoxerus.[2] It is endemic to Western Sahara, Algeria and Morocco and has been introduced into the Canary Islands. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, temperate grassland and rocky areas where it lives colonially in burrows. It was first described by Linnaeus in 1758.

Description[edit]

The Barbary ground squirrel is a small species growing to a length of between 160 and 220 millimetres (6.3 and 8.7 in) with a bushy tail of a similar length. It weighs up to 350 grams (12 oz) and has short wiry hair. The general colour is greyish-brown or reddish-brown and there is a white stripe running along each side, and sometimes another along the spine. The belly is paler grey and the tail is longitudinally barred in black and grey.[2][3]

Distribution[edit]

The Barbary squirrel, an 1820 illustration
Leaves, flowers and fruits of the argan tree

The Barbary ground squirrel is found on the Barbary Coast of Western Sahara, Morocco and Algeria on the seaward side of the Atlas Mountains and was introduced into the island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands in 1965.[1] It is the only species of squirrel to inhabit Africa north of the Sahara.[2] Its habitat is arid rocky ground and it is found in mountainous regions up to an altitude of about 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).[2]

Biology[edit]

The Barbary ground squirrel is a colonial animal and lives in family groups in burrows in dry grassland, bushy and rocky areas including disturbed agricultural land, or in dens among rocks. It needs access to water but is not found in irrigated fields. It tends to come out to feed early in the morning and again in the evening, retreating into its burrow during the heat of the day. It feeds on plant material and a major part of its diet is the fruit and seeds of the argan tree (Argania spinosa). If the population builds up and food is scarce, the Barbary ground squirrel may migrate.[1][2] The females give birth to litters of up to four young, twice a year.[1]

Status[edit]

The population of the Barbary ground squirrel is believed to be stable and it is common over its range up to elevations of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) but is more widely dispersed at higher altitudes. It is also less common at the eastern end of its range. It is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as being of "Least Concern".[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Aulagnier, S. (2008). Atlantoxerus getulus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Scott J. Steppan and Shawn M. Hamm (2000). "Atlantoxerus". Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved 2013-02-14. 
  3. ^ Thorington, R. W. Jr. and R. S. Hoffman. 2005. Family Sciuridae. pp. 754–818 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
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