SIZE: Length (including tail) 45 cm, mass (m) 650 g, (f) 600 g. COLOUR: Sandy brown. Underparts and lower legs are white; eyes ringed with white; lateral white stripe runs the length of each flank. The bushy tail is mingled black and white. POTENTIAL LONGEVITY: 15 years MOST LIKE: The Mountain Ground Squirrel of Namibia and southern Angola, which is virtually identical to the groung squirrel, but lives under rocks, not in burrows. HABITAT: Arid, open country, where the soil is sufficiently firm to make burrowing possible.

When the squirrel moves its tail up and down, this is an alarm signal to other members of the pack, and is accompanied by a long, drawn out whine, which functions as an alarm call. Colonies numbering up to 30 live in a complicated network of interconnecting burrows: they are poor climbers, and so remain mostly either on or under the ground. The warren may be shared with suricates or yellow mongooses, although the mongooses sometimes kill older ground squirrels. They live in the drier parts of southern Africa, and are predominantly vegetarians; their diet, however, does include insects. They sunbathe with their bellies to the ground and all four legs stretched out. They dustbathe in the same way and every now and then scratch the sand all over their bodies before shaking it off. Small colonies consist of females and their offspring, with the female defending the territory against intruders. Males are accepted into this society only when a female is in heat. One or two young are born.

The Ground Squirrel, also known as the Cape Ground Squirrel, uses its tail as a sunshade, holding it in a bent position over its back while feeding.