general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) • ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2021 • Vol. 21 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfAbramchuk, A., S. Shokalo, Yu. Yankevich. 2021. The speckled ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus) in Belarus: new localities, old threats, and prospects of conservation. Theriologia Ukrainica, 21: 84–90.



The speckled ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus) in Belarus: new localities, old threats, and prospects of conservation


Andrey Abramchuk (,
Sergey Shokalo, Yuriy Yankevich


Brest regional branch of NGO "Ahova Ptushak Batskaoshchyny" ( Brest, Republic of Belarus)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2021. Vol. 21: 84–90.




English, with Ukrainian summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


The study was carried out as part of the project "Superrodent" and is devoted to the description of new record localities of the spotted ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus s. l.) discovered by the authors during 2019–2020. It is one of the rarest species of rodents and mammals in the fauna of Belarus in general. This species suffers from anthropogenic changes in the environment and its agricultural development and to ensure its protection it is listed in a number of ‘red lists’, including the IUCN Red List and the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus (since 2015). The search for ground squirrel habitats was carried out in two stages. The first included the analysis of the literature on already known localities and biotope preferences, including cartographic data to identify promising areas to search for. The second stage provides a direct survey of prospective sites, their photo documentation and a detailed description. In total, nine new habitats of the species were identified within four administrative districts of Minsk Oblast of Belarus: Nesvizh Raion (4), Stowbtsy Raion (1), Baranivka Raion (1) and Kapyl Raion (2). In addition, an inspection of the sites previously identified by the authors revealed that some of them have already disappeared or are in critical state, the reason for which is primarily the land ploughing. In fact, today there are only six viable suslik settlements in Belarus. All of them are confined to elevated areas of the Kopyl ridge, which is located in the northern part of the Continental biogeographic region. Most of the surviving colonies are not large and consist of a few dozen to 150 living burrows. The number of the only large colony (Yushevichi) is estimated at 10 to 11 thousand individuals. All other inhabited colonies are located at a distance as far as 6 km from the Yushevichi colony. In other regions of Belarus, despite searches, ground squirrels are currently not found. The key threats to the species' existence are the ploughing of colonies and the overgrowth of tall grasses and trees and shrubs. In our opinion, for the long-term preservation of the species in the country, it is necessary to establish an appropriate protection regime (management), as well as the implementation of comprehensive monitoring: monitoring of threats, successions of plant communities, and the state of ground squirrel populations. Suggestions for protection and further monitoring of locations are given. Among other initiatives, the authors sent proposals to local authorities on granting protection status to areas with settlements of ground squirrels.


ground squirrel, rare species, distribution, colonies, protection, Belarus



Red Data Book of the Republic of Belarus: Rare and Endangered Species of Wild Animals. Belasussian Encyclopelia, Minsk, 1–320. (In Russian)
Red Book of the Republic of Belarus. Animals. Minsk, 1–317. (In Russian)
Shakun, V. V., M. V. Maksimenkov. 2013. Towards the protection of the speckled ground squirrel (Citellus suslicus) in the Korelichi district of the Grodno region. Zoological readings: materials of the International scientific-practical conference in memory of prof. I. K. Lopatina (Grodno, March 14–16, 2013). Grodno State University named after Y. Kupala; ed. by O. V. Yanchurevich [et al.]. J. Kupala Grodno State Univ., Grodno, 325–328. (In Russian)
Shokalo, S. I. 2019. On the state of the speckled ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus) in central Belarus. Zooculture and ecology problems. Issue 3. Collection of scientific papers. Moscow Zoo; ERAZA; SOZAR. ZooVetKniga, Moscow, 208–215. (In Russian)
Zagorodniuk, I. V., O. O. Fedorchenko. 1995. Allopatric species among rodent group Spermophilus suslicus (Mammalia). Vestnik zoologii, 29 (5–6): 49–58. [In Russian]
Zagorodnyuk, I., Glowacinski, Z. & Gondek, A. 2008. Spermophilus suslicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2008.


to main page of journal >>>

created: 01.07.2021
updated: 15.07.2021

Locations of visitors to this page