Siksik — Arctic Ground Squirrel

The siksik derives its name from the short, piercing whistle that it makes as it scurries in and out of rock piles. Another often-noted characteristic of the siksik is that it is confined to the mainland of Arctic Canada. It digs tunnels in sandy banks, carrying the soil out in its mouth as it digs farther into the hillside. Siksiks are busy animals, always running about – they only walk when actually eating. They are also capable, like ermines, of standing up on their hind legs to survey their territory. One Inuktitut term was inspired by the movements of the siksik: siksalattuq, "to slip in with the rapid movement of a siksik". When a siksik sits up, flicks its tail, whistles, and "looks happy", it is expected to duck into its burrow and return shortly. If, on the other hand, it looks "unhappy" and does not flick its tail, the siksik will remain inside its burrow for a longer time. After an active summer, the siksik builds up food reserves before the winter, which it spends asleep in its den. Its main predators are the wolverine, the arctic fox and the ermine.

Siksiks are not a major prey item for the Inuit. When one was occasionally caught by women or children, its soft skin was used to make hats and undergarments for babies (Randa 1994).