Field Guide/Mammals/Eastern Chimpmunk

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Tamias striatus (Eastern Chipmunk)
Family: Sciuridae (Squirrel)
Size: Total Length: 8.5-11.2 inches (215-285mm)

Tail Length: 2.8-4 inches (72-101mm)

Weight: 2.8-5.3 oz. (80-150g)
Description: 5 black stripes over red-brown, white, and grey stripes on back. Cream belly, white “eyeliner” stripes, 4 toes on front paws & 5 toes on back paws [1], red-brown tail brown on tip [2]
Similar Species: The Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus) has similar striping patterns and toes, but is quite a bit smaller than the Eastern Chipmunk.

Range: The Eastern Chipmunk ranges from Eastern and Central United States (as far south as Louisiana and Florida) and Southeastern Canada, including Nova Scotia.
Habitat: Eastern Chipmunks live in burrows in deciduous forest or woodland edge, but they are also able to survive in urban environments [3]. The home territory of an Eastern Chipmunk is usually less than 100 yards.
Diet: The Eastern Chipmunk eats nuts, acorns, seeds, mushrooms, corn, and sometimes berries, slugs, and snails. They collect up to 8 pounds of food for eating in winter.
Activity: Chipmunks run from burrow to collect food. They stuff and carry food in cheek pouches, as well as soil when digging burrows [3]. They are diurnal and hibernate.

Reproduction: Chipmunks call for mating season is a short “chip, chip, chip.” Mating is in March and again the latter half of June-July. Females may bite dominant male as form of rejection. Gestation is 31-32 days, and litters average 4-5. The babies are furless at birth and open eyes after the first month.
Lifespan: Eastern Chipmunks live 1-3 years, and up to 8 years in captivity.

Notes: They wake from hibernation and torpor to eat some and then return to sleep. (Torpor is an advanced stage of hibernation where about 75% of the chipmunk’s functions cease. This decreases energy usage, but can cause temporary brain damage [3].)
Eastern Chipmunk

  1. Anderson, R.; Stephens, J. (2002), "Tamias striatus", Animal Diversity Web, http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Tamias_striatus 
  2. Whitaker, J.O (1980), A.A.Knopf, ed., Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) 
  3. a b c Snyder, D. P. (1982), "Tamias striatus", Mammalian Species 168: 1-8, http://www.science.smith.edu/msi/