Mummy ground squirrel tells of a different Alaska

One fall day in Interior Alaska, a lion stalked a ground squirrel that stood exposed on a hillside like a foot-long sandwich. The squirrel saw bending blades of grass, squeaked an alarm call, and then dived into its hole. It curled up in a grassy nest. A few months later, for reasons unknown, its heart […]

Squirrels in Arctic science

June 10 2015, 9pm in Alaska, tune in to KAKM Science Wednesdays, Alaska Public Media, for Frontier Scientists’ ARCTIC GROUND SQUIRREL feature. Ground squirrels, described as cute furballs or the perfect yuppie pet, live unusual lives in the Arctic. They survive body temperatures below freezing and use a superpowered internalized clock to stay on schedule. […]

That dress! – interpreting colors like an Arctic ground squirrel

Two people are looking at a picture of the same dress on the same screen. When asked ‘What color is this dress?’ they might give entirely different answers. Some people see a white dress with gold trim. Others see a blue dress with black trim. Others see variations. The viral picture set people at odds […]

Squirrels’ role in climate change puzzle

Alaska’s North Slope is home to Arctic ground squirrels. Near the Atigun River their interlaced burrow network takes advantage of sandy soil. The burrows are so interconnected and the entrances so myriad that the scientists working there to decode Arctic ground squirrel mysteries carry a map denoting burrow entrance numbers so they can be certain […]

Lab fridge Arctic ground squirrels

“They do their best to approximate a sphere,” Loren Buck explained as he removed the ground squirrel from its lab-made hibernaculum. Hibernating Arctic ground squirrels can sustain a core body temperature of just -2.9°C [26.78°F]. “It’s cold… Do you want to touch it?” Buck uncurled the animal carefully. “He knows he’s being handled, it just takes a […]

Arctic ground squirrel release

How to catch an Arctic ground squirrel – for science!

At Atigun River, north of the Arctic Circle, the sandy soil is run through with an interlaced network of burrows. The Arctic ground squirrels which call those burrows home have encountered something mundane to you or me, but no-doubt wondrous to them: big tasty taproots, stunningly orange. Carrots! Trapping squirrels The carrots are bait, placed […]

hibernating Arctic ground squirrel lab

The abundantly peculiar Arctic ground squirrel

They survive colder core body temperatures than any other known vertebrate, sustaining a temperature below freezing yet not becoming frozen. They emerge from hibernation with clock-like accuracy

hibernating arctic ground squirrel

Arctic ground squirrel chronobiology; Wake up, guys, my biological clock says it’s…spring?

Biology major Brady Salli spends seven days a week in the vivarium making sure UAA’s arctic ground squirrels are fed, watered and, for those that are hibernating, tucked snugly into clean cotton batting. The kicker? He has to maintain a random schedule so the animals don’t “cheat” off of him. Professor Loren Buck, Department of […]