Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel

The golden-mantled ground squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis) is often confused with a chipmunk, but is somewhat larger. Native to most forested areas of North America, it is one of the most appealing creatures due to its gregarious nature and sheer cuteness. This one, photographed in a state park in Bend, Oregon, approached within three feet of the photographer for this sharp close-up. Presumably looking for handouts but not getting any, it scampered off after a few minutes of posing for the camera.

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