In nature food clawed ground squirrels studied by us by eating the inspection or fresh kopanok during search technique and getting them to feed.
Direct observations in the habitats of animals found that in Southern Balkhash this gopher digs and eats roots following plants: sand sedge (Carex physodes), broomrape (Orobanche lutea), bluegrass (Poa bulbosa), white crowfoot (Haloxylon persicum), Ephedra (Ephedra lomatolepis).
Gopher digs most succulent roots sand sedge. In shoots of the plant, he breaks the dry outer leaves and eats succulent centerpiece.
After the rains, due to the power zverk.ov this plant in some areas of sand hills there are countless kopanok (depth 3.4 cm) and in some cases is completely sgryzennoy sedge. In the areas with the largest population density of ground squirrel (nine or ten holes on one ha) described animals destroy up to 60-70% of the stock of this plant. Quite often bitten powerful and juicy roots broomrape like rodent burrows, and at the point of growth.
According to our observations, the number kopanok made by ground squirrels in search of food, much more on the northeastern slopes of the steep sand dunes, where the vegetation is richer in species represented. Thus, if the gentle slopes with sparse vegetation, the site of the dwelling unit, the opposite they are foraging areas. Their combination provides the most favorable conditions for the existence of animals per krupnobugristyh sands Balkhash (Taukum).
Gophers early spring green leaves as feed-era murusa and other sand plants. They also feed on, for example, desert tortoises (Testudo horsfieldi), Being well-known competitors rodents on nutrition. Repeatedly noted, the turtles in experimental stages, is 2-3 m from the observer, eating juicy leaves Eremurus, killing up to 15 g of green mass for any 10.5 min. Then the turtle crossing the neighboring areas, which also ate mostly green leaves, lightly touching the basal part and quite damaging underground. It should be noted that in the spring feeding squirrels dominated just basal parts of plants and roots, which are located not very deep below the surface. Therefore Copanca left at this time gopher, smaller summer and autumn.
Underground plant parts less available gopher in the winter on the slopes of the dunes even deprived of continuous snow cover, as the sand is frozen to a depth of 5-10 cm and it is difficult to dig. For example, in southern Balkhash squirrels winter often feed above ground parts of plants, sometimes quite rude (branches buckwheat), periodically extracting them at the exits from the short holes.
Feed stocks in the rodent burrows were found by us, but they sometimes animals are entered uneaten food. For example, in one of the excavated March 5, 1951 burrows found fresh tarragon leaves and fruits of buckwheat, crowfoot, boxes and sand sedge stems, recently listed the owner of the hole.
In the diet clawed ground squirrel in the Kara Kum and Kyzyl Kum include: onions, young shoots, succulent stems and leaves of the base sand sedge, tubers and leaves bluegrass and tournefortsii, tulips and other Liliaceae, sandy carrot root, stem Aristide; ephedra shoots, fruits buckwheat; roots, green shoots, flowers and fruits saxaul kandym, Salsola and sandy acacia roots and shoots of tamarisk, the roots of Ferula, leaves Recr, broomrape, leaves, stems and roots of camel thorn, wormwood, quinoa, Mortuk, fire, mushrooms, galls on black and white, etc. crowfoot (Heptner, 1929, Kalina, 1929 Kashkarov 1932, Lavrov and Naumov, 1933; Konovalov, 1935 Vinogradov, 1948, Kolesnikov, 1953 Stalmakova, 1954 Woodpeckers, 1960).
Well marked seasonality in food. Thus, according to VG Geptner (1929), clawed ground squirrel eats mostly spring succulent stem base sand sedge, later – the stalks and stems of ephedra Aristide, from the beginning of the summer, and especially in the winter – the fruits of buckwheat (rhizomes sand sedge, on Sa pozhenkovu , 1965), during the year – the underground parts of plants. Main food clawed ground squirrel in Karakalpak part of Kyzyl Kum are 23 plant species in March – May 12, June – October five, November – February, six species (woodpeckers, 1960). Winter animals eat tulip bulbs and sand sedge tournefortsii tubers, rhizomes sandy carrot roots of young shrubs buckwheat. There are also remnants of eating the fruits of buckwheat and black saxaul. Found bites the bark of these shrubs and the remains of various yummy mushrooms. During the growing season ephemera eaten sand sedge, fire, Mortuk, Aristide, onions, quinoa, sage and other Gophers at this time strongly grow fat, which contributes to an easier transference of starvation next period (June – October), when they dig up clumps of dried sand sedges, eat buckwheat seeds, green parts Aristide, Artemisia and Haloxylon. Once I. Kolesnikov (1953) observed a animal eating the roots of Ferula (Ferula assa-foetida), have extremely unpleasant odor. This gopher very willingly eats galls on the bushes of black and white crowfoot, followed by deftly climbs on bushes, but halophytic vegetation does not eat (Steel-Makov, 1954). However, research Sapozhenkova YF (1965), he eats and halophytic vegetation. In March 1961, the author has repeatedly pointed rodents feeding on vegetative shoots black saxaul.
Except for wild plants, clawed ground squirrel eats shoots, green parts and melon fruit, particularly if they are located in the desert (Latvians and Sidorkin, 1947 Karulina, 1960). The animals damaged melon.
Opening the stomach 35 clawed ground squirrels in southern Balkhash found that these rodents eat summer beetles, ants, grasshoppers, caterpillars, butterflies, lizards and larks. Most often, animal feed occurred in adult females during lactation, which is apparently to some extent due to the increased needs of the organism in the full protein in the period. Gastro-intestinal tract of two animals (out of 10 examined by us in May 1954 in South Kyzylkum) was filled with caterpillars scoop, three cases registered mantis.
At gopher eating insects also suggest NP Lavrov and SP Naumov (1934), EY Konovalov (1935), AM Andrushko (1939), VA Stalmakova (1955), J. Sapozhenko F. (1965). AM Andrushko observed eating young gopher tortoise. S. Naumov et al (1935) reported finding ant excavated clawed gopher. They once found a bone, which gopher chew zasohshiesuhozhiliya. According to VA Stalmakovoy (1955), this rodent eats grubs, sand cockroaches, beetles, caterpillars, butterflies, etc. In addition, clawed gopher regularly eats darkling beetles, jewel beetles caught in a trap gerbils and individuals of the species and the crested lark chicks (Sapozhenko, 1965). This author found in the stomachs of 16 of the 43 studied the remains of insects.
We must assume that the diet of these animals animal food presented more than the real squirrels. The fact that they eat more concentrated feed, they say relatively short dimensions posterior tract (the length of the colon is 29% of the total length of the intestine, instead of 42% for yellow, and 35% I middle ground squirrels).
Young squirrels are transferred to plant food soon after reaching the surface, around the age of 25-30 days. With the remains of milk in the stomach we have found only one animal, which was released out of the hole on June 12, when he had two molars on the upper jaw.
Time intensive animal food is spring and especially the second half of summer. In October, some individuals are well-fed, but in a much lesser degree than the hibernating ground squirrels. If the latter are involved in the rut almost without eating, then clawed ground squirrel has a chance nazhirov-ki, before you start breeding. Reinforced early spring food falls exactly on the premarital period. Animals reach maximum weight in March – April, at the time of estrus.
As seen above, clawed ground squirrel – sandy desert dweller, makes full use of host plants, species composition is relatively rich. Well marked seasonality in the diet and the combination of plant and animal feeds. According to this type of feeding ground squirrel can be assigned to a group of consumers concentrated feed.