Thirteen-Lined Cutie

Especially now that the weather’s warmed up, the feeders at work attract as many mammals as they do bird. The red squirrels were there all winter, and now the chipmunks have come out of hibernation and joined them, and there’s one big fat gray squirrel that sticks out like a sore thumb among its small hyperactive cousins. And best of all, there are a couple of these:

Not the greatest photo in the world – these guys are pretty shy, so I had to take this photo through a window and then crop the heck out of it. But this is a thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Ictidomys tridecemlineatus. The only place I remember seeing them before this spring was in Saskatchewan, and I find their pattern of polka dots and stripes incredibly cute. Some people consider them pests for their habit of digging holes in yards and gardens and fields, but too bad. I think they’re adorable!