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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Amazing Arctic Ground Squirrel

The arctic ground squirrel is called "tsik-tsik" by the First Nation peoples of Canada. It is the sound an arctic ground squirrel makes when it is alarmed.

They live in burrows under the ground. They line their nests with grasses to help them keep warm. After they enter their burrow for winter, they block the entrance with dirt.

During an arctic winter, it is very cold. The temperature in the squirrel's burrow can drop below 0° F. Most mammals would die in temperatures that cold. But the arctic ground squirrel is an amazing little animal!

In the summer, the arctic ground squirrel has the same body temperature as you and me. During hibernation, the squirrel's body temperature drops from 98.6° F to 26.4° F. Water freezes at 32° F but not the artcic ground squirrel! This little squirrel reaches the lowest known body temperature of any living mammal. Scientists don't know why the arctic ground squirrel doesn't freeze solid in such cold temperatures.

Every so often during the winter, the arctic ground squirrel wakes up. He shivers until his body temperature rises to 70° F. Then he goes back into hibernation.

When spring comes in late March or early April, the arctic ground squirrel comes out of his burrow. He must really be hungry!

To learn more about the arctic ground squirrel, go to http://www.gov.nu.ca/env/ags.pdf
This article is very special. The second page is written in the Inuit language. The Inuit are First Nation people in Canada.

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