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_MG_6636_arctic_ground_squirrel-2F.jpg
This little guy was very cheeky. I was 5000ft up on a mountain ridge, and he pretty much marched out of his burrow to greet me. Well, I nearly stepped on him first ,he vanished into a hole, only to pop up in another one seconds later - it was like one of those "hit them with the mallet" games. Then he just came over so close the telephoto was getting too long! ........Called Siksiks by the Inuit, the diurnal Arctic Ground Squirrel lives in colonies and is the only Arctic animal that hibernates. In the spring and summer they forage for tundra plants, seeds and fruit to increase body fat for their winter hibernation. By late summer they begin to store food in their burrows so that in the spring they will have edible food until the new vegetation has grown.....The burrows are lined with lichens, leaves and musk ox hair. During hibernation their body temperature can drop to just above freezing and their heartbeat drops. They are prey to arctic foxes and eagles.......Shot at 400mm using a Canon 30D, and Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS lens