The eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), common to the deciduous forests of eastern North America, is the largest. The word "chipmunk" is thought to originate from "chip-chip" sound that this animal usually produces. 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. Chipmunks are generally seen scampering through the undergrowth of a variety of environments from scrublands, alpine forests to shrubby deserts. For example, the Siberian species utilizes both forest and taiga habitat, while the eastern species lives in coniferous forests and also ranges into suburban areas. Periods of increased activity are mid-morning and mid-afternoon. All are active only during the day, and all but one are North American, occurring from southern Canada to west-central Mexico. 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. Across the various species, a single individual lives a solitary life in an underground burrow. Eastern Chipmunk on The IUCN Red List site -,, These diligent animals are able to collect large amounts of food in short periods of time: one chipmunk can gather as many as 165 acorns per day. Most species do not face direct threat from human interaction, but certain subspecies and population in specific regions suffer decline. You can find them in parks, gardens, suburbs, farms, and more. Humans have not domesticated these little ground squirrels in any way. Write CSS OR LESS and hit save. The Eastern chipmunks have pouches on their cheeks, made of extendible skin. Learn a few interesting tidbits about several specific species below. Chipmunks are members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) within the order Rodentia. A second litter, usually smaller, is often produced in regions with long summers. Announcing our NEW encyclopedia for Kids! In addition, there have been known cases of individuals, nesting in hollow trees. They store food in their cheek pouches and carry it back to their nest for storage. Welcome to the Chipmunk google satellite map! They relish seeds, berries, and tender plants, but they also eat fungi, insects and other arthropods, and sometimes carrion. Born helpless, they develop quite quickly, and most reach independence when they are about two months old. The chipmunks’ call is a shrill chirring or chipping. Some food they eat when they return to their nest, others they store within the nest for later consumption. The IUCN lists many species as Least Concern. Although most classifications acknowledge a single genus of chipmunks, Tamias, some separate the species into the genera Tamias, Eutamias, and Neotamias. Due to their hording habit, these rodents prevent seed dispersal of plant, which they store. In order to come out their underground burrows in spring, these rodents often have to dig through up to a meter of snow. The gestation period lasts about a month. Most species weigh about 3 or 4 ounces, though size varies based on location. The Eastern chipmunks are quite common throughout their range and don't appear to be threatened, but populations in forests are known to suffer from fragmentation of their natural range. Weaning occurs at 40 days old, after which females leave their offspring, moving to a new burrow. Chipmunks construct complex burrows which can measure 3 – 4 metres in length. Most litters contain between three and five young. Some chipmunks may be dormant throughout the winter, whereas others display more activity. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Chipmunks are basically pygmy squirrels adapted to exploiting the resources of rocky terrain and forest understories. Corrections? This means that they feed on both plant and animal matter. Although they usually hoard food, these animals don't store fat for hibernation period. During the day, they forage throughout the forest, both on the ground and up in the trees. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. Updates? 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 chipmunks’ call is a shrill chirring or chipping. The Siberian species inhabits vast regions of northern Asia. These rodents are solitary and diurnal animals. Two to eight (rarely nine) young are born in spring or summer after about a month’s gestation. In addition, one introduced population of the Eastern chipmunks is found on Newfoundland, off the coast of Canada. Of the 25 species of chipmunks, all but one, Asia’s Eutamias sibiricus, is found in North America.

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