Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family:    Sciurdae
Size:    Length 8 to 11 inches (20 to 28 cm)
Weight: 2.2 to 5 ounces (62 to 142 g)
Diet: Nuts, seeds, bulbs, fruit, mushrooms, worms, corn, insects and plants
Distribution: Eastern North America
Young:  3 to 5, once or twice per year
Animal Predators:  Hawk, weasel, coyote, fox, marten, snake and occasionally owls
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: No special terms

2 to 4 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity



·          In three days a chipmunk can gather an entire bushel of nuts.

·          The word “chipmunk” is Algonkian for “head first” because of the way they descend trees.

·          A chipmunk’s best sense is hearing.

·          There are 21 different species of chipmunks in North America.



All chipmunks have pouches in their cheeks where they can store food to carry it away to their dens. Eastern chipmunks can store nine nuts in their mouths—four in each cheek and one between its teeth. When filled, each cheek pouch can grow as large as the chipmunk’s entire head. Even though they appear very tiny, eastern chipmunks are larger than most other types of chipmunks. Their fur is reddish-brown and they have black and white stripes running along their back. Their tail is furred and their ears are round. They have four toes on each front foot and five on each rear foot. 



Eastern chipmunks are found throughout eastern Canada and eastern United States. The range of a chipmunk is approximately two acres in size and shared with other chipmunks, but they are careful to defend their burrows for fear of having their food caches stolen. Chipmunks live in wooded areas and can often be seen in campgrounds and parks. Eastern chipmunks usually live underground in burrows, especially during the cold winter months. Throughout their lives, they keep adding tunnels to their main burrow, creating an extensive network. By the onset of winter, they have stored enough food in their burrows to last the cold weather. Chipmunks hibernate from late fall to early spring. Every week or so, they wake up in order to eat some of their cache and make a brief appearance outside the burrow to relieve themselves. The entrance to a chipmunk’s den is a hole the size of a dollar coin, going straight down into the earth. They usually camouflage the entrance by pulling vegetation over it or blocking it with dirt to keep predators away. They may also make their homes in holes in stone walls or fences. 


Feeding Habits

Chipmunks eat a large variety of foods including nuts, seeds, bulbs, fruit, mushrooms, worms, corn, insects and green vegetation.



During mating season, a female chipmunk allows a male into her burrow. Mating season lasts from late winter to late summer, and females sometimes give birth twice a year to as many as nine young chipmunks. Both parents take part in raising the babies. The youngsters are weaned after four weeks, and leave their parents after they reach two months to dig a den of their own and begin storing food for the winter ahead.  



Eastern chipmunks are lively, quick-moving animals. They make a variety of noises, including a “chip, chip” noise that gave them their name. 



Eastern chipmunks are not of conservation concern.










Eastern Chipmunk Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US