20 Interesting Facts About Chipmunks

  1. Chipmunks are tiny, striped members of the squirrel family. Their close relatives are marmots, prairie dogs, and other ground squirrels. 
  2. There are 25 species of chipmunks. Siberian chipmunks are present in northern parts of Asia and Eastern Europe, while all the other species are native to North America from Canada to Mexico.
  3. The color of their fur is from gray to reddish-brown. Their most prominent feature is light and dark stripes on their back and faces. Their long bushy tail accounts for nearly half of their body size.
  4. The stripes provide camouflage and protect diurnal chipmunks from birds and other predators. These stripes are similar to markings in the African striped mouse. Mice and rats split from squirrels 70 million years ago, but stripes in both these mammals are unrelated. (Source)
  5. Chipmunks are terrestrial animals and usually live on land. However, they can climb trees and swim.
  6. Chipmunks differ in size according to species. Eastern chipmunk is the largest, while the least chipmunk is the smallest among these rodents.
  7. Chipmunks dig burrows that can be three feet deep and extend up to thirty feet. These dens have multiple entrances and separate areas for sleeping, food, and excretion. These mammals keep their burrows dry through drainage tunnels at the bottom.
    A chipmunk eating
    Chipmunks store a large amount of food in dens before winter

  8. Chipmunks store a large amount of food in their burrows before winter. They can gather up to 165 acorns a day, which assists them in storing enough food for the cold season in a couple of days. However, they collect a lot more foodstuff than their requirements.
  9. Chipmunks are among the few animals with cheek pouches. It assists them in carrying food of their size to store in their burrows for winter.
  10. Chipmunks enter a hibernate-like state in winter.  During this period, they sleep most of the time. However, they raise their body temperature by eating stored food after every few days.
  11. Various species live from sea level to mountainous areas. Their habitats include several types of forests, woodlands, scrubland, and deserts.
  12. Chipmunks are omnivores. They prefer eating plants, seeds, and fruits. They also consume insects, other arthropods, and fungi.
  13. Many farmers and gardeners consider them pests due to their digging behavior and consumption of grains and other plants. However, chipmunks also provide benefits by dispersing seeds of the fruits they eat and by recycling the soil.
  14. Female chipmunks reproduce once or twice a year, according to species. There are usually four to five babies in a litter after a gestation period of a month.
  15. The average lifespan for chipmunks in the wild is three years. However, some species can live for 10 years or more in captivity.
  16. Chipmunks are solitary animals and live alone in their burrows. Males meet with females during mating season. They separate after mating and leave the females to take care of newborn babies alone.
  17. Like many other wild rodents, chipmunks can also suffer from bubonic plague through fleas. These animals can also infect humans in case of close contact.
  18. Chipmunks have several predators due to their small size. These include snakes, foxes, coyotes, owls, hawks, etc.
  19. Chipmunks have several defensive techniques against predators. They can run at 21 mph, climb trees, and use their deep and vast burrow as a protective place.
  20. Chipmunks are tiny and unaggressive, and some people like to keep them as pets. However, they are wild animals and prefer solitary life, unlike cats and dogs. They also need a vast space to roam and eat a variety of food.

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