European Ground Squirrel

The European Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) is a small rodent from the squirrel family. It is an endemic species only found in some parts of central and south-eastern Europe. It is associated with short-grass steppe habitats (pastures, roadsides, and embankments) where it represents a key prey of vulnerable and endangered raptors, such as the Saker Falcon and the Eastern Imperial Eagle. The European Ground Squirrel is a colonial species, which lives in a branching system of tunnels up to 2 meters deep. It is active during day from March to October when it feeds intensely on aboveground plant parts. In April and May, 3 to 9 young are born. It falls into winter sleep which lasts from 6 to 8 months. The maximum life span of the species is 3 to 5 years. The pastures Spasovina and Obzovik in the Special Nature Reserve Kraljevac represent one of the last refugia of this species in Serbia. In Serbia, the European Ground Squirrel is strictly protected under the Code on Declaration and Protection of Strictly Protected Species and Protected Wild Species of Plants, Animals and Fungi Annex I (Official Gazette No. 5/10). Also, the species is listed as a strictly protected species in Europe (Resolution No. 6 of the Bern Convention and Anex II of Habitats Directive) and on the IUCN Red List of Vulnerable Species.

 

Lesser Mole Rat

13

The Lesser Mole Rat (Spalax leucodon) is a species of steppe rodent which in Serbia commonly occurs in Deliblatska Peščara, Subotičko-Horgoška Peščara and peripheral parts of Fruška Gora. This solitary species spends its entire life underground in a branching system of tunnels which it digs using its strong teeth and legs. It feeds on plant roots, tubers, rhizomes, and bulbs. It stays active throughout the year. A single litter of 2 to 4 young is born in a period from February to May. The Lesser Mole Rat can be distinguished from all other rodents by its lack of external eye openings, although small eyes are present under the skin. It has well developed senses of smell, touch, and hearing. In Serbia, although it is considered commonly to be a pest species, the Lesser Mole Rat is strictly protected under the Code on Declaration and Protection of Strictly Protected Species and Protected Wild Species of Plants, Animals and Fungi Annex I (Official Gazette No. 5/10). According to IUCN criteria from 1996, Lesser Mole Rat was classified as a vulnerable species, but, because of taxonomic problems in identification of species and subspecies a conservation status of this taxon is currently unknown.