Alert Uinta Ground SquirrelAlert Uinta Ground Squirrel – Nikon D7100, f8, 1/1600, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I try to keep up with name changes, whether common or scientific, when it comes to birds and the great people at the ABA help tremendously with that by sending out emails with proposed changes and the changes that have been approved. But I haven’t been able to find a single web site where it makes it easy to know when a species of mammals has been reclassified or renamed. I wish there were one.

Just recently I was working up a few Uinta Ground Squirrel images and had gone on line to search for more information about them and Wikipedia has their scientific name listed as Urocitellus armatus and I knew they used to be Spermophilus armatus.

A pair of Richardson's Ground SquirrelsA pair of Richardson’s Ground Squirrels – Nikon D200, f16, 1/250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

So then I searched Richardson’s Ground Squirrels because I also have photographs of them and Wikipedia now has their scientific name listed as Urocitellus richardsonii and they used to be Spermophilus richardsonii.

I don’t know when the scientific names for ground squirrels changed even though I tried to find that information on line.

Uinta Ground Squirrel at Red Rock Lakes NWRUinta Ground Squirrel at Red Rock Lakes NWR – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I looked on line at the web site of the Natural History Museum of Utah and they have the genus of ground squirrels listed as Urocitellus instead of Spermophilus.

And by doing more research I found out that Uinta and Richardson’s Ground Squirrels and the rest of the ground squirrels in North America have been changed to Urocitellus.

Because I do photograph wildlife when I have the opportunity I guess I need to check for name changes and reclassifications in the Kingdom Animalia too.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover April 14, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks for keeping us up to date on the name changes. Usually there’s a good reason for it, especially now that we’re in the DNA-testing era. Nice images too.

  2. Elephant's Child April 14, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Sigh. And the beauty and charm are not altered with the names…

  3. Wickersham's Conscience April 14, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Sometimes I think that the biologists do the splits, lumps and name changes just to confuse everyone else. In the case of western ground squirrels, I think the sequence was Spermophilus -> Citellus -> Urocitellus, with lots of species splits as well. But I may have it wrong. As just one example, there are still Townsend’s Ground Squirrels but they aren’t the ones older guide identify as Townsend’s. Life was simpler in Alaska where there was just one species…

    But very nice photos, Mia, showing all the field marks.

  4. Patty Chadwick April 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Whatever their names are, all squirrels, ground or tree, are awfully clever and cute. Whenever friends tell me they’ve finally outwitted the squirrelsvwho raid their feeders, my money is always on the squirrels…haven’t lost yet. My grey squirrel learned how to operate door knobs, lift garage can lids (where we stored sunflower seed and peanuts, etc.) in seconds… Had to keep heavy stone on top and hope he couldn’t roll it off….

  5. Liz Cormack April 14, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Life IS good but just got a little more confusing? Love the photos.

  6. Bob McPherson April 14, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia. Cute critters regardless of scientific Monikers.

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