Critter Corner - Eastern
DID YOU KNOW:
Eastern chipmunks are small,
reddish-brown, ground-dwelling animals in the squirrel family.
They have two bold white stripes bordered by black stripes.
They hold their bushy tail straight up when they run.
Chipmunks eat nuts, seeds and
berries. Acorns and hickory nuts are among their favorite
treats. Other foods may
mushrooms, insects and even bird eggs. They spend a lot of
time hunting for and storing nuts and seeds. Chipmunks
store their food in large caches inside their complex burrows.
They stuff their mouths with nuts and seeds to transport them to
their storage areas. Even part of their Latin scientific
name means 'storer'.
Mom chipmunks give birth to
one litter of four to five babies either in spring or late
summer. Mom nurses and cares for her babies until they can
eat seeds and nuts on their own. The babies are blind and
hairless when born and about the size of your thumb. At
about eight days, the striped pattern begins to show as they
start to grow fur.
Chipmunks build underground
tunnels with rooms for nesting and
food. They hibernate inside their tunnels during the
winter but wake frequently to eat. Chipmunks live in open
leafy forests and brushy areas in the eastern United States.
We may find chipmunks living along stone walls and under shrubs
in suburban neighborhoods and cemeteries.
Chipmunks are very fast
runners. When in danger they run to their burrows or hide
among rocks or under brush. They have a very small thumb
and four toes with claws on their front feet and five toes with
claws on their back feet. They have very sharp teeth.
Chipmunks use several
types of calls. A loud chirp is the most common.
Chipmunks will sing at
their favorite eating spot and will even sing together in
Other sounds they make
include a chuck-chuck and when surprised a trilling
They can even make these
sounds when their mouths are full.
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
Chipmunk, Case Western Reserve University;
Chipmunk in Grass, West Virginia Department of Natural
Resources, Photographer: Melissa Wilson;
Chipmunk on rock, California Department of Natural Resources)