Authors: ŞAKİR ÖZKURT, NURİ YİĞİT, ERCÜMENT ÇOLAK, MUSTAFA SÖZEN, MUHAMMED MOURADI GHARAKHELOO
Abstract: Field and laboratory investigations on the ecology, reproduction and behavior of Spermophilus citellus and Spermophilus xantophrymnus were performed over a period of 4 years. Both S. citellus and S. xanthophrymnus are diurnal species and occupy semiarid steppe areas in Turkish Thrace and Anatolia, respectively. Distribution of the former species is confined to restricted steppe areas in Turkish Thrace whilethe, latter lives on the Anatolian steppe, and is sympatric with Meriones tristami, Mesocricetus brandthi, Allactaga williamsi and Microtus spp. The burrows of both species have one entrance, and are built separately in the field. They constitute small social colonies and communicate with each other by emitting hoarse, sharp and shrill sounds. S. xantophrymnus enterrs hibernation in August and emerges in February. It was observed that they were tolerant of each other. Based on field and laboratory studies S. citellus and S. xantophrymnus give birth once a year. The litter size was at 3 for the former species, and 1-4 for the latter. Average weight at birth was 5 g for both species. Newborns of both species became hairy at 15-17 days, their eyes opened at 22 -25 days, and their ears at 30 days and offspring were weaned at the end of the second month after birth. The external characters of 2 babies from Edirne attaned those of adults 4 months after birth.
Keywords: Spermophilus, ecology, reproduction, behavior, Turkey
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