1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Spiny Squirrel

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SPINY SQUIRREL, a book-name for a group of African ground squirrels, characterized by the spiny nature of the fur of the more typical forms. They form the genus Xerus, which is split up into a number of subgenera; Xerus rutilus of Abyssinia and East Africa belonging to the typical group, while the striped North African X. getulus represents the sub-genus Atlantoxerus. The more typical species are characterized by the coarse spiny hair, the small size, or even absence of the ears, and the long, nearly straight, claws. The skull is narrower and longer than in typical squirrels, and there are distinctive features in the cheek-teeth; but the more aberrant types come much closer to squirrels. Typical spiny squirrels differ from true squirrels in being completely terrestrial in their habits, and live either in clefts or holes of rocks, or in burrows which they dig themselves. (See Rodentia.)