European Souslik

Latin Name Spermophilus citellus
Class Mammalia
Order Rodentia
Family Sciuridae
IUCN status Vulnerable
Habitat Short grassland-steppes also lawns,sports fields, pastures etc always on light well-drained soil for burrow excavation
Distribution Endemic to central and south-eastern Europe - found at altitudes up to 2,500m

General Information

This lovely ground squirrel is in serious decline and now extinct in many areas leaving fragmented, unviable groups. This situation is mainly due to loss of habitat as the grass-land steppes are converted to cultivated fields or forestry.

It has an omnivorous diet of seeds, roots, shoots, flowers and some insects.

Fun Fact

They hibernate for nearly 7 months of the year (longer than Dormice).

Keeper Notes

In 2012, our only Souslik was joined by a pair from Edinburgh Zoo. After hibernation, in spring 2015 & in 2017, keepers were thrilled to spot youngsters and since then we believe at least three litters have been born. These shy creatures arevery satisfying to watch for our more patient visitors and tend to be more active in the afternoon.