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Squirrels and Relatives: Sciuridae

Eastern Chipmunk (tamias Striatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The largest of the chipmunks, eastern chipmunks are about 8.9 to 10.6 inches (22.5 to 26.8 centimeters) long. They have grayish to reddish brown fur, white fur on their bellies, and five stripes from the neck to their tail. Two of the stripes are white bordered by black stripes, and one black stripe is in the center. They also have light strips above and below their eyes, and pouched cheeks.

Geographic range: Eastern chipmunks are found in southeastern Canada and most of the northeastern United States, south to Mississippi and Virginia and west to North Dakota and Oklahoma.

Habitat: Eastern chipmunks generally live in open deciduous forests with rocks, logs, and stumps. They can also be found in more open, bushy areas.

The eastern chipmunk is the largest of the chipmunks, and is common in the northeastern United States. (Illustration by Brian Cressman. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Eastern chipmunks primarily eat nuts, acorns, seeds, mushrooms, fruits, berries, and corn. They also eat insects, bird eggs, snakes, snails and small mammals, such as young mice.

Behavior and reproduction: Eastern chipmunks construct elaborate burrow systems. They are solitary, prefer to burrow alone, except for offspring. In warmer months they spend much of their time gathering and storing large amounts of food—they can gather up to 165 acorns in a single day. These animals remain in their dens for the winter and sleep frequently. They wake up every few weeks to eat the food they have stored.

These chipmunks breed from late June to early July. Litter sizes average three to five offspring. In some areas a female may have a second litter. Offspring will come above ground five to seven weeks after birth.

Eastern chipmunks and people: There is no special connection between these chipmunks and people.

Conservation status: Eastern chipmunks are not considered threatened. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSquirrels and Relatives: Sciuridae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Squirrels And People, Southern Flying Squirrel (glaucomys Volans): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS