Critter Corner - Eastern Chipmunk
(Tamias striatus

DID YOU KNOW:

Eastern chipmunks are small, reddish-brown, ground-dwelling animals in the squirrel family.  They have two bold white stripes bordered by black stripes.  They hold their bushy tail straight up when they run.

EATING HABITS:

Chipmunks eat nuts, seeds and berries.  Acorns and hickory nuts are among their favorite treats.  Other foods may include mushrooms, insects and even bird eggs.  They spend a lot of time hunting for and storing nuts and seeds.  Chipmunks store their food in large caches inside their complex burrows.  They stuff their mouths with nuts and seeds to transport them to their storage areas.  Even part of their Latin scientific name means 'storer'.

THE YOUNG:

Mom chipmunks give birth to one litter of four to five babies either in spring or late summer.  Mom nurses and cares for her babies until they can eat seeds and nuts on their own.  The babies are blind and hairless when born and about the size of your thumb.  At about eight days, the striped pattern begins to show as they start to grow fur.

HABITAT (HOME):

Chipmunks build underground tunnels with rooms for nesting and storing food.  They hibernate inside their tunnels during the winter but wake frequently to eat.  Chipmunks live in open leafy forests and brushy areas in the eastern United States.  We may find chipmunks living along stone walls and under shrubs in suburban neighborhoods and cemeteries.

 

DEFENSIVE HABITS:

Chipmunks are very fast runners.  When in danger they run to their burrows or hide among rocks or under brush.  They have a very small thumb and four toes with claws on their front feet and five toes with claws on their back feet.  They have very sharp teeth.

UNUSUAL FACTS:

  • Chipmunks use several types of calls.  A loud chirp is the most common.

  • Chipmunks will sing at their favorite eating spot and will even sing together in the spring.

  • Other sounds they make include a chuck-chuck and when surprised a trilling chip-r-r-r. 

  • They can even make these sounds when their mouths are full.

 To learn more about chipmunks

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(Photo credits: Portrait of Chipmunk, Case Western Reserve University; Chipmunk in Grass, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Photographer: Melissa Wilson; Chipmunk on rock, California Department of Natural Resources)