Ground Squirrels can be spotted everywhere around Toolik Field Station on a daily basis. They come across our path as we walk to the lab, or the run across the boardwalk as we head out to the plots or tram site.

Ground Squirrel
Ground Squirrel at Toolik Field Station

Arctic ground squirrels can reach 500 to 900 grams in weight, which makes them the largest species of ground squirrel. They eat forbs, seeds, willow leaves, berries, insects, bird eggs, and even baby mice.
Ground Squirrel
Ground Squirrel hanging out on the Toolik Pad

They can often be seen standing watch vigilantly at their burrow entrances, scanning for predators, and making a "sik-sik" sound to warn their neighbors of the presence of a predator.
Ground Squirrel
Ground Squirrel standing alert

In the winter, when there is a food shortage, they hibernate for seven to eight months. During hibernation they are not asleep, but in a state of torpor, which means they basically become brain dead with no organized brain waves.

Spoiler Alert

Red Fox
Red Fox with ground squirrel prey

They have litters of 2 - 6 in late May or early June and can live up to six years. Their predators, which you will see in the following video, include foxes, bears, wolves, wolverines, falcons, hawks, golden eagles, jaegers, owls and gulls.