Most active at dusk and dawn, Nelson’s antelope squirrel shelters in burrows during the hotter parts of the day. Extensive networks of burrows with up to six openings may be dug under tussocks of vegetation, or the old burrows of other ground-dwelling mammals may be re-used (6). Although many ground squirrels hibernate in their burrows during winter months, Nelson’s antelope squirrel is active year round, reducing its body temperature during cooler periods to save energy expenditure (6) (7). For most of the year, green vegetation forms the bulk of its diet, but during the dry season, it commonly forages for insects (1). Food is carried in cheek pouches and may be cached in burrows or under rocks, and consumed later when food is in short supply (3).
Breeding takes place over winter, when mature females will typically mate with several males (5) (6). A single litter of around nine infants is produced after a gestation period of around 26 days, with birthing coinciding with a peak in green vegetation productivity (1) (6) (8). Juveniles develop rapidly, becoming independent after three to four weeks, but most juveniles will not live beyond one year due to high levels of predation (5) (8). Juveniles usually stay within the home range of the family, but some will travel up to one kilometre to find a mate (4).