They have fur which is sandy / orange brown on the head and back, yellowish on the flanks and white on the belly. There is usually a small streak of yellow on the chest.
Their lifespan averages two to three months, but they can survive as much as 20 months in the wild, or two or more years in captivity.
The breeding seasons are March/April to October/November and gestation lasts approximately 25 days. They grow their first fur after six days; their eyes open after 16; and they are weaned at around 18 days old.
Survival of the young and adults is poor during the first half of the breeding season as adult males can be aggressive towards one another and to the young, who are then driven from the nest.
They eat a high proportion of the seed crop of trees such as oak, beech, ash, lime, hawthorn and sycamore.
Small snails and insects are particularly important sources of food in late spring and early summer when seeds are least available and larval and adult insects are plentiful.