Arctic Ground Squirrel

Arctic ground squirrel eating a plant in Denali National Park

The Arctic ground squirrel lives only in subarctic North America and eastern Asia. Spending 7 to 8 months of the year in hibernation, these little critter’s body temperature drops to below freezing (27 °F, -3 °C). Their metabolism drops to 2% of their normal rate. Yet, their organs survive, their blood doesn’t freeze, and their brains return to normal function when they wake. These outstanding characteristics have led scientists to study them for a number of things including organ protection, treatment of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Arctic ground squirrels are one of my favorite animals to watch. They build underground colonies and dart in and out of their holes on hillsides. Sometimes they can be quite bold and curious around people and not very shy. I see them all over hills and ridgelines in Denali National Park. If you’re ever in the area, check out the alpine trail at Eielson Visitor Center, Savage River Loop, or the Healy Overlook Trail, these little guys are running all over the place!

CameraNikon NIKON D7100 (Current model NIKON D7500)
LensNikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR
Focal Length500.0 mm (750.0 mm in 35mm)
Exposure Time0.002s (1/500)

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