African ground squirrels (genus Xerus) form a taxon of squirrels under the subfamily Xerinae. They are only found in Africa. There is another African ground squirrel of the genus Atlantoxerus, the Atlantoxerus getulus present in southwestern Morocco and northern Western Sahara.
The squirrels live in open woodlands, grasslands, or rocky country. They are diurnal and terrestrial, living in burrows. Their diet is roots, seeds, fruits, pods, grains, insects, small vertebrates and bird eggs. They live in colonies similar to North American prairie dogs, and have similar behavior. If kept as pets, they run free as house cats do, otherwise farmers consider them pests. Breeding in South African ground squirrels is asynchronous and there is no specific period of breeding although very few litters are seen above the ground in the months of July to October. Gestation period lasts for 48 days and the young ones are weaned after 52 days. There are one to three babies per litter. A female becomes sexually mature when she is 10 months old and a male matures at the age of 8 months. Although a female has the capability to breed throughout the year, less than 10% reproduce more than one litter in a year.