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Ground squirrels act like tiny ninjas

It’s the squirrels penchant for digging these burrows that cause some humans to look upon them as pest animals, but the burrows actually help to rotate and aerate the soil, and cache seeds (for future plant growth and reforestation after wildfires). “By mixing mineral dirt with organic matter, ground squirrels encourage microbes to grow, speeding up soil production,” says grassland ecologist Paula Schiffman of California State University, Northridge. The squirrels’ abandoned burrows also provide housing for other animals that are unable to excavate burrows for themselves such as Burrowing Owls, California Red-Legged frogs, California Tiger Salamanders (which are fragile animals that spend about 10 months of the year underground)… and oddly enough even Rattlesnakes which often use abandoned squirrel burrows to hibernate in over the winter months.

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