Category: Animals & Nature
chipmunk, (genus Tamias), any of 25 species of small, striped, terrestrial squirrels with large internal cheek pouches used for transporting food. They have prominent eyes and ears, a furry tail, and delicate claws. All are active only during the day, and all but one are North American, occurring from southern Canada to west-central Mexico. Body length among most species ranges from 8 to 16 cm (3.1 to 6.3 inches) and tail length from 6 to 14 cm (2.4 to 5.5 inches).
Chipmunks are basically pygmy squirrels adapted to exploiting the resources of rocky terrain and forest understories. They scamper along the ground but are also expert climbers. As a group they are an ecologically versatile genus. Different species can be found from sea level to 3,900 metres (12,800 feet) in environments defined by large rocks, boulders, and cliffs. They inhabit various forest types, from timberline slopes and rock-bordered alpine meadows downward through coniferous and deciduous forests to dry scrublands and sagebrush deserts.
Animal Group Names
The eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), common to the deciduous forests of eastern North America, is the largest. Weighing 70–142 grams (2.5–5 ounces), it has a body 14–19 cm (5.5–7.5 inches) long and a shorter tail (8–11 cm [3.1–4.3 inches]). The fur is reddish brown and is broken by five dark brown stripes running lengthwise down the body. These alternate with two gray-brown stripes and two whitish stripes. The smallest chipmunk is the least chipmunk (T. minimus), which weighs about half as much as the eastern chipmunk. The Hopi chipmunk (T. rufus) lives among the buttes and canyonlands of the American Southwest and is remarkably adept at climbing sheer rock faces and overhangs. The Uinta chipmunk (T. umbrinus), which lives in montane forests of the western United States, is much like a tree squirrel in its habits. In addition to denning in burrows, it regularly sleeps and nests in trees, where it sometimes raises young in tree cavities or abandoned bird nests. The only Old World species is the Siberian chipmunk (T. sibiricus), which ranges from the White Sea of northwestern Russia eastward through Siberia to northern Japan and south to China.
The chipmunks’ call is a shrill chirring or chipping. They relish seeds, berries, and tender plants, but they also eat fungi, insects and other arthropods, and sometimes carrion. They stuff seeds and nuts into their cheek pouches and carry them to a burrow to be stored for later use. As most chipmunks do not accumulate significant fat during the fall, they depend upon this cached food during the winter. Although they experience periods of torpor, chipmunks occasionally emerge on sunny, windless winter days. They were not considered to be true hibernators, but studies indicate that the eastern chipmunk’s body temperature ranges from 35 to 41 °C (95 to 105.8 °F) during activity and drops to 5–7 °C (41–44.6 °F) during torpor—a difference that characterizes true hibernators. Two to eight (rarely nine) young are born in spring or summer after about a month’s gestation. A second litter, usually smaller, is often produced in regions with long summers.
Chipmunks are members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) within the order Rodentia. Although most classifications acknowledge a single genus of chipmunks, Tamias, some separate the species into the genera Tamias, Eutamias, and Neotamias.
It is an omnivore, feeding on both plants and other animals. Its diet includes slugs, insect larvae, earthworms, snails, and butterflies, and it will occasionally eat frogs, bird eggs, birds and mice. It also feeds on acorns, nuts, leaves, buds, mushrooms, fruits, berries and seeds.Do chipmunks come back to the same place? ›
Like many mammals, Eastern chipmunks have a strong homing instinct. Relocation of mammals with a strong homing instinct is not recommended because of the potential conflict relocating to a new area can cause.”What do chipmunks do all day? ›
Chipmunks are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Although they can climb trees, they spend most of their lives on the ground or underground in burrows that may reach 30 feet long and 3 feet deep.What is chipmunks favorite food? ›
They love nuts, berries, seeds, and fruits… but more than anything they like food that's easy to find. If chipmunks seem particularly prevalent around your home, it's probably because they've found a reliable food source. Chipmunks love exploiting bird feeders, feed bags, pet food, or garbage.Where do chipmunks sleep? ›
Chipmunks like to live alone in holes or burrows called dens. Chipmunks hibernate in cold weather, which means they spend most of the winter sleeping in their dens.What is the chipmunks natural enemy? ›
Predators of chipmunks include hawks, owls, snakes, domestic cats, raccoons, foxes and more. are used to carry large amounts of food to their burrows to be hoarded for later.Are chipmunks good to have around? ›
When chipmunks feed on plants and fungi, they help disperse the seeds of these organisms. Burrowing by chipmunks also may help aerate and recycle soil. Chipmunks are most active in the early morning and late afternoon.What problems do chipmunks cause? ›
They may consume flower bulbs, seeds, seedlings, bird seed, grass seed, and pet food that is not stored in rodent-proof storage containers. In New England, chipmunks cause considerable damage to the tubing systems of maple sugar producers by gnawing the plastic spiles and lines.
Chipmunks are usually docile animals. However, they can become somewhat aggressive when they meet a potential threat or predator. They can bite and scratch anything of which they are afraid. This is why humans should not interact with chipmunks unless they have been trained.What brings chipmunks to your yard? ›
Chipmunks find their way from the woods to human dwellings for all the reasons you might expect: food, water, and shelter. If you have a fruit or vegetable garden, growing produce might attract them. Chipmunks eat flowering bulbs, fruits, and young plants, but they can even disrupt plants and seeds they don't eat.
When we compare a chipmunk and a squirrel, we find the chipmunk to be smarter than a squirrel. This might come as a surprise, but it is a fact observed from their nature. Both animals are smart and intelligent, but the chipmunk is a bit smarter than the squirrel.What do chipmunks do around your house? ›
Chipmunks don't usually damage property, but they may injure ornamental plants when they harvest fruits and nuts. Occasionally chipmunks dig up and eat spring flowering bulbs and burrow in flower beds or under sidewalks and porches. But there are no documented cases of a chipmunk burrow causing structural damage.What do chipmunks avoid? ›
Chipmunks will steer clear of food sources dusted with cayenne pepper or garlic. A spray of cider vinegar or peppermint oil will also discourage sampling of your fruits and vegetables. They also can be repelled by scent. Citrus, garlic, peppermint, cinnamon, and eucalyptus all provide odors disagreeable to chipmunks.What don't chipmunks like? ›
Nuts - you can also give them unsalted nuts, such as pine nuts. Fresh fruit and veg - small amounts of washed, chopped fruit and vegetables, such as apples, pears, bananas, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, and tomatoes, add extra variety to their diet.What do chipmunks drink? ›
What Do Chipmunks Drink? Chipmunks drink water – the liquid required by all living things on Earth to survive.Do chipmunks have teeth? ›
Chipmunks, like most squirrels, have 20-22 teeth.Do chipmunks mate for life? ›
Chipmunks are usually solitary and do not mate for life.What is a female chipmunk called? ›
Twice a year in spring and late summer, males (called bucks) and females (does) come together to mate, then part ways again. Female chipmunks raise the pups, but don't remain close to their offspring once they leave.How high can a chipmunk jump? ›
They can climb but typically stay closer to the ground. They are able to jump at least 3 feet and perhaps a bit further; however they legs are not designed in the same way as squirrels are and their bodies are not adapted for climbing to great heights or jumping far.