Abstract Studying the habitat characteristics and habitat selection of the plateau zokor in different grassland types is very important to understand the function and position of the zokor in these grassland ecosystems. We selected the plateau zokor inhabiting in the alpine meadow, alpine shrub meadow and alpine grassland located in northern Qilian Mountain to describe habitatcharacteristics and study its habitat selection by dividing five plots in each grassland according to the zokor’s mounds densities, which can be regarded as relative population density of zokors. We investigated soil compaction, soil moisture, soil temperature, soil pH, as well as plant community structure in each plot of three grassland types. One-Way ANOVAs showed that there were significant differences in vegetation and soil among the three grassland types. Soil compaction, soil temperature, and total plant species number in alpine meadow were the highest (P<0.05), soil moisture and total vegetation coverage in alpine shrub meadow were the highest (P<0.05), soil pH in alpine grassland was the highest (P<0.05). Correlation analysis showed that soil compaction was negatively correlated with the relative population density of the zokor (P<0.05). Stepwise linear regression analysis showed that the plateau zokor preferred habitat with lower compaction, richer forbs in alpine meadow, lower compaction in alpine shrub meadow, and lower compaction, higher soil moisture, richer sedges in alpine grassland. In the three grassland types, we found that the soil compaction was the key factor of habitat selection of the plateau zokor and food resources was the secondary factor.