Found in the eastern United States, the burrowing Eastern Chipmunk lives in both forests and in suburban areas.
1. Scientific & Common Names
4. Present Status
Scientific & Common Names
Biologists refer to this cute little animal as Tamias striatus, but most people simply call the Eastern chipmunk a chipmunk. Although some people call chipmunks ground squirrels, the ground squirrel is a completely different animal from the Eastern chipmunk.
Eastern chipmunks have reddish-brown or golden brown fur on their bodies with white bellies. They have darker stripes with white lines extending the length of their bodies. Chipmunks have two white stripes on their faces above and below their eyes. Chipmunks also have cheek pouches in which they can carry large quantities of food. Chipmunks are about 5 to 6 inches long and usually weigh about 3 ounces.
Chipmunks usually breed twice a year. The male and female come together for mating, and about 30 days later, the female will give birth in her burrow. Usually chipmunk litters consist of 4 to 6 babies. The male does not participate in raising the young. The young chipmunks are born with no fur or teeth and with closed eyes and ears. After about a month, the baby chipmunks will have grown fur and teeth and have opened eyes and ears. At the age of 4 to 6 weeks, the babies will begin accompanying their mothers outside of the burrow for foraging. Weaning is complete around 8 weeks of age. Chipmunks are usually born in early spring or late summer.
Although chipmunks typically live alone, they communicate extensively with loud chattering, chirping and squealing. Chipmunks will inhabit home ranges of up to a half acre, but they will only defend the 50-foot perimeter around their dens from the incursions of other chipmunks. Chipmunks are most active during the early morning hours and late afternoon hours, spending most of the daylight hours sleeping in their burrows. Chipmunks create intricate burrows containing one larger nesting den with several other chambers for food storage purposes.
Eastern chipmunks are native to the deciduous forests of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. They survive equally well in deep forest habitat or in suburban neighborhoods.
Eastern chipmunks are not endangered and are found in large quantities all throughout the eastern United States.