Xerus | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures


The Xerus, commonly known as the African ground squirrel, is a small rodent with a slender, elongated body. Below you can find complete facts about xerus.


It has a grayish-brown to reddish-brown fur coat, often with white stripes or patches on its face and sides. Xerus features a bushy tail that aids in balance and communication.

Their eyes are dark, and they have sharp claws for digging burrows. These squirrels exhibit an agile and alert appearance suited for their terrestrial lifestyle.

Origins And Evolution

Xerus belongs to the family Sciuridae, which includes squirrels, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. These squirrels are native to Africa, with their ancestors likely originating on the continent.

Over time, Xerus evolved adaptations for a terrestrial lifestyle, including strong limbs for digging and foraging on the ground. They exhibit social behaviors, often living in groups and sharing burrow systems.

The genus Xerus includes several species with varying characteristics, demonstrating their evolutionary diversity. Xerus species have adapted to different habitats across Africa, from savannas to rocky terrain.

Ability to thrive in diverse environments. Their evolutionary journey highlights their resilience and successful adaptation to various ecological niches on the African continent.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Xerus, or African ground squirrels, are known for their social and active lifestyles. They often live in colonies, sharing intricate burrow systems. These squirrels are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime. Their behavior includes foraging for a variety of foods, including seeds, plants, and insects.

They are also vigilant and alert, with some members of the group acting as sentinels to warn others of potential threats like predators. They are well-adapted to terrestrial life and are known for their agility and speed when escaping danger.

Xerus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Sciuridae
  • Subfamily: Xerinae
  • Genus: Xerus

Xerus Locations

  • Southern Africa
  • East Africa
  • Central Africa
  • Western Africa
  • Northern Africa

Fast Facts About Xerus

  • Name: African Ground Squirrel (Xerus)
  • Scientific Name: Genus Xerus
  • Habitat: Found in African habitats, savannas, grasslands, and rocky terrain.
  • Diet: Omnivorous, seeds, plants, insects, and occasionally small vertebrates.
  • Physical Features: Slender body, white stripes, Bushy tail, and Sharp claws.
  • Nocturnal: Diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime.
  • Social: Live in colonies.
  • Unique Order: Belong to the order Rodentia.
  • Lifespan: Typically 3 to 4 years in the wild.
  • Conservation Status: Generally not considered threatened.
  • Fun Facts: They are known for their agility and speed.

Xerus Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Grayish-brown to reddish-brown fur.
  • Skin Type: Covered by fur.
  • Top Speed: speeds of up to 15 to 20 miles per hour.
  • Lifespan: Typically around 3 to 4 years in the wild.
  • Weight:  4 to 8 ounces (113 to 226 grams).
  • Length:  8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters).
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 8 to 12 months of age.
  • Age of Weaning: 6 to 8 weeks of age.

Xerus | Image

Here are some interesting pics of xerus.


Xerus FAQs

What is Xerus?

It is the scientific genus name for African ground squirrels.

Where are African ground squirrels found?

They are found across various regions in Africa, including savannas, grasslands, and rocky terrain.

Are African ground squirrels social animals?

Yes, they often live in colonies and share burrow systems, exhibiting social behavior.

What do African ground squirrels eat?

They have an omnivorous diet, consuming seeds, plants, insects, and occasionally small vertebrates.

Are African ground squirrels diurnal or nocturnal?

They are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime.

Do they have predators?

Yes, they face threats from various predators, including birds of prey, snakes, and carnivorous mammals.

How fast can African ground squirrels run?

They can reach speeds of up to 15 to 20 miles per hour (24 to 32 kilometers per hour).

What is the lifespan of African ground squirrels?

In the wild, their lifespan is typically around 3 to 4 years, but it may vary based on environmental factors.

Do African ground squirrels have unique behaviors?

Yes, they often have sentinel individuals who watch for danger and give alarm calls to warn the group.

What is their role in the ecosystem?

They play an important ecological role by aiding in seed dispersal when they consume and later defecate seeds from the plants they eat.

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