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Eastern Chipmunk image
Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

(Mammal)

Eastern Chipmunk Baby
Eastern Chipmunk Baby

Eastern Chipmunk Habits

The eastern chipmunk lives throughout the eastern parts of Canada and the United States. It is most common in deciduous woodland and scrub, but it also inhabits coniferous forests and areas that have broken and stony ground. The chipmunk is not shy and frequently makes its home near human dwellings.
For most of the year the chipmunk lives alone, establishing and defending a territory surrounding its nest burrow. The size of a chipmunk's territory depends on the availability of food.
Even though it is a good climber, the chipmunk spends little time above ground. It forages on the forest floor and makes its nest underground, beneath rocks, fallen logs, or even sheds.
The chipmunk continues digging its nest burrow all its life. As a result, burrow tunnels can extend for 30 feet or more and may contain several chambers and exits. The chipmunk also digs shorter, simpler burrows for emergency exits and food storage.
The chipmunk is abundant and coexists peacefully with man, seldom doing so much damage to crops that its numbers must be controlled. It is occasionally hunted for its fur, and some wild chipmunks may be captured for the pet trade.

Eastern Chipmunk Communication

Eastern chipmunks vocal communication consists primarily of repeated series of chips and chucks, which can last for up to half an hour at a time. Most chipmunks defend the area at least a few square feet around their burrows, and chips and chucks often serve to advertise their territorial claim. These territorial calls sometimes lead to aggression if some other chipmunk steps forward to challenge the claim. These vocalizations can be quite complex.
Trills are briefer vocalizations than chips or chucks, reserved for desperate alarm calls by a chipmunk being actively pursued by a predator. Other chipmunks react to these calls by exhibiting increased vigilance if they're aground or staying in their burrow until the coast is clear. Although sounding the alarm can put the chipmunk at greater risk by disclosing his location to other predators, the creatures seem to believe the potential cost is outweighed by the greater benefit of warning family members. Chipmunks tend to trill more often when traveling through territory they know is near relatives' burrows.

Eastern Chipmunk Breeding

Chipmunks usually have two breeding seasons: from February to April and from June to August. During these periods the female chipmunk will be ready to mate for 3-10 days and gives a series of calls known as chips. Male chipmunks gather in a female's territory and compete for the chance to mate with her. Chipmunks do not establish pair bonds, and after mating the male leaves the female to bear and rear the young on her own.
After a 31-day pregnancy, the female bears a litter of four or five offspring in her nest burrow. She suckles the young for about a month before she takes them on foraging trips. At 6-8 weeks of age the offspring are ready to leave the nest and find their own territories. Eastern chipmunks are fully grown after about 3 months; a chipmunk is not usually sexually mature until the following year.

Eastern Chipmunk Food & Feeding

The chipmunk is an omnivore. It prefers seeds, nuts, and acorns, as well as fruits or berries; but it also eats slugs, insects, spiders, nestling birds, eggs, and occasionally mice or small snakes. Chipmunks collect most of their food from the forest floor but will harvest nuts and berries directly from tree limbs if necessary. Most of the food they collect is stored in their burrows for the winter, though some may end up in other safe places throughout their territories. In winter chipmunks use their keen sense of smell to find these supplies. Some hoards remain undiscovered, however, allowing some of the buried seeds to germinate in the spring. In this way chipmunks aid the propagation of those trees and bushes that bear their food.

Eastern Chipmunk Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Head and body, 5-7 in; tail, 3-4 in
              Weight: About 3 ounces
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 4-6 months
             Mating: February-April and June-August
             Gestation: 31 days
             Number of young: 1-9; usually 4 or 5
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Active by day, nests in burrows
            Diet: Nuts, seeds, berries, invertebrates, and occasionally nestling birds, mice, and snakes
            Lifespan: 2-3 years in the wild; 5-8 years in captivity

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The eastern chipmunk has two fewer grinding teeth than other chipmunks.
  • A chipmunk can carry nine large nuts at a time: four in each cheek pouch and one between its teeth.
  • Cheek pouches can stretch as it will awaken to dig into its hidden supply of nuts and seeds, stored during the summer and fall. almost to the size of the chipmunk's head. .The chipmunk stores only hard food that does not mold, such as nuts and cones.
  • Chipmunks are very vocal and make a variety of noises. They get their name from the "chip, chip" sound they make.
  • A chipmunk may store up to 8 pounds of food in its burrows.

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