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Crazy Alphabet Challenge (with a twist): the letter X: Xérus

source of the photo above:

As you can see from the picture above. a « xérus » (which is the name of a genus) is a small mammal or rodent who is a cousin to the North American or European family of squirrels or even chipmunks. But the « xérus » or African ground squirrel lives in the African savannah in Mauritania, Ouganda, Ethiopia and Sénégal mostly.

The « xérus » contrary to our common squirrels is a land base mammal only (it does not go up trees or even take refuge in trees or shrubs) although it can stand at attention on his hind legs whenever he sniffs or just to look around and even while he or she is eating.

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This little critter weighs between 800 to 900 grams (1-2 pounds) and measures 22 to 27 cm (9 to 11 inches). Its tail is almost as long as its body measuring from 18 cm to 28 cm (7 to 11 inches). The ears of a « xérus » are so small that you would think he or she had none unless you look closer. The claws of the back feet of this little African squirrel are long and curved. The fur is quite thick and prickly and is almost the color of sand so the « xérus » can be very hard to distinguish from afar.

The African ground squirrel lives alongside his own species companion and sleeps at night in burrows that he and they have dug. The den has several galleries throughout so the colony is not cramped one on top of the other. They rarely go very far away from their den and usually run back into it at any sign of danger. In fact the « xérus » has a very strong sense of smell which he or she uses to sniff to detect predators. It will even sniff excrement to make sure that predators are not nearby.

The African ground squirrel is an herbivore and eats any types of grain, shoots, roots and corn. With this type of diet, the « xérus » usually lives around 10 years.

The reproduction of the « xérus » can go on anytime during the year but the female usually gives birth only once a year to one or two little ones.

Being small does not mean that the « xérus » is totally defenseless. If confronted, it lifts up its tail, takes his claws out and makes very strident hissing sounds probably to warn the den and maybe give himself some time to flee.

The word xérus comes from the latin xerus which actually was borrowed from the Greek.

See you soon for the letter Y in French I hope because as you may have noticed the past three or four presentations of my crazy alphabet animals were mostly English.


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Written by HistoryGal

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    • Yes they do look like your own Canadian prairie dogs when standing up. And what is this about Doc’s dog… he better not run to Africa to try to catch these… Thank you Kim and Doc for visiting and commenting and up voting.

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