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Chipmunks

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

Photo credit: Charles H. Warren

Length: 8 1/2-8 3/4 in.
Habitat: Open woodland; forest edges; brushy areas; bushes and stone walls in cemeteries and around houses.
Range: Southeastern Canada and northeastern United States west to North Dakota and East Oklahoma, and south to Virginia, NW South Carolina, and Mississippi.

Chipmunks are ground-dwelling squirrels. They spend most of their lives at or below the surface, although they will also climb trees. Their extensive burrows are 12 feet long and may include a storage chamber, sleeping room, dump, and latrine, along with several concealed entrances. The pantry holds up to half a bushel of nuts and other food, all carried there in the chipmunk's cheek pouches. Eastern Chipmunks partially hibernate in winter (they wake frequently and feed). The females give birth in spring or midsummer, producing litters of 2 to 8 young. Like other members of the squirrel family, chipmunks are naked, blind, and helpless at birth.

Chipmunks are essentially ground species, but the Eastern Chipmunk does not hesitate to climb large oak trees when acorns are ripe. It is single-minded in its food gathering, making trips from tree to storage burrow almost continuously.

Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus)
Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus)

Photo credit: John J. Mosesso, NBII

Length: 3.5 - 4.5 in.
Habitat: varied; includes tundra, forests, forest edges, sagebrush.
Range: much of the Rocky mountain region and the western Great Plains of the United States; central and western Canada and in parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

The smallest chipmunks are among the most active, scurrying over the ground and occasionally into trees. Piles of fruit pulp and nut trimmings mark their feeding sites. Least Chipmunks hibernate in winter and mate in spring. About a month later the female gives birth to a litter with up to 7 young, which remain with her for several months. The Least Chipmunk is one of more than a dozen species of western chipmunks. Usually smaller and grayer than the Eastern Chipmunk, they vary in color according to their location. Desert inhabitants tend to be paler than forest ones, and individuals living in sun-dappled forests tend to have well-defined stripes.

Chipmunks have been kept as pets since the 1950s. While most species are North American, the most common pet is the Siberian Chipmunk (Eutamias Sibiricus) from Northern Europe and Asia. Color mutations such as white and cinnamon occur in captive-bred animals. It is a little bit bigger than a Syrian Hamster and smaller than a Fancy rat.

Chipmunks need a very large, aviary-like cage, with high nest boxes, branches, shelves and ropes to climb. For burrowing, cover the wire floor with a deep layer of peat or bark and provide tubes.

Feed chipmunks mix containing peanuts, sunflower seeds, corn, oats, peas, etc. Give fresh vegetables, fruit (not peach stones), nuts in their shells, acorns and pine cones. Chipmunks live for at least 4 to 6 years.

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

Taxonomic Hierarchy

       
  Kingdom Animalia — Animals  
     Phylum Chordata  — Chordates  
        Subphylum Vertebrata — Vertebrates  
           Class Mammalia  — Mammals  
              Order Rodentia—Rodents  
              Suborder Sciuromorpha—Squirrels  
                 Family Sciuridae   — Chipmunks, squirrels  
                    Genus Tamias — Chipmunks  
                       Species Tamias striatus — Eastern chipmunk

Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus)

Taxonomic Hierarchy

       
  Kingdom Animalia — Animals  
     Phylum Chordata  — Chordates  
        Subphylum Vertebrata — Vertebrates  
           Class Mammalia  — Mammals  
              Order Rodentia—Rodents  
              Suborder Sciuromorpha—Squirrels  
                 Family Sciuridae   — Chipmunks, squirrels  
                    Genus Tamias — Chipmunks  
                       Species Tamias minimus — Least chipmunk
                       Subspecies Tamias minimus atristriatus
                       Subspecies Tamias minimus minimus




 











 



 




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