Chipmunk Facts

A Small Collection Of Chipmunk Facts

Knowing just a few chipmunk facts will make watching them even more enjoyable. One will be able to see a method to their sometimes erratic mannerisms. Even though chipmunks can become real pests in some cases, there's no denying they are very cute and attractive little animals.

Chipmunks are rodents, and are very closely related to squirrels, in fact are members of the squirrel family. The fact that chipmunks are generally much smaller than squirrels usually makes it easy to tell the difference between chipmunk and squirrel, but this is possible even in the case of young, small squirrels. A defining feature of the chipmunk is that all species have stripes on their faces. Squirrels do not. Chipmunks also have pouches in their cheeks for storing food to take to their burrows or to hide in caches. Squirrels do not have cheek pouches. A sure fire way to tell a chipmunk from a squirrel is to chase one, or scare one away. A squirrel will run away with its tail in parallel to the ground. Chase a chipmunk, and it runs with its tail held vertically, making it look a little like a radio controlled automobile.

Where They Live - If you think when you've seen one chipmunk, you've seen them all, that's not the case. While there are chipmunk facts which apply to all chipmunks, such as striped faces, cheek pouches, and vertical tail postures, there are a number of different species, each species having its own set of unique facts. In North America, there are 22 species of chipmunk. Most of the species are native to California, with a few of those species found in neighboring states as well. In fact, only 9 of the 22 species are native to regions outside of California. In California there are several species which are found only in rather small areas, coastal strips, or high in the Sierra Mountains. The Alpine chipmunk for example is only found in the Sierras at altitudes between 7,500' and 13,000'. The Yellow-cheeked chipmunk can be found in only a couple of California counties. Outside of California, Palmer’s chipmunk is found only in the mountains near Las Vegas, Nevada.

At the other extreme, the Eastern chipmunk is found in most parts of eastern North America, and ranges from Nova Scotia to Louisiana, while the Least chipmunk is found throughout the Rocky Mountain Range, the Sierras, and from New Mexico into Central Canada. Residents of the eastern United States may be excused if they think the Eastern chipmunk is the one true chipmunk, as few other species are found east of the Rocky Mountain States. Residents of the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest may likewise consider the Townsend's chipmunk as being the one and only species of chipmunk.

How Small? - We've said that chipmunks are small and quick. Maybe their small size makes them appear even faster, but they certainly can get from one place to another in seemingly a few milliseconds when they're in a hurry. As far as size is concerned, the Eastern chipmunk is on average, the largest species in North America, the larger ones tipping the scales at a whopping 5.0 ounces, although some Townsend's chipmunks have reportedly attained a weight of nearly that much. Most species are in the 2 to 3 ounce range, while the smallest of the North American chipmunks, the Least Chipmunk, averages 1.5 ounces, with the bigger guys perhaps reaching 1.9 ounces. As noted previously, it's the residents of the Rocky Mountain states who are most apt to see the Least chipmunk in action.

A Few Random Chipmunk Facts In Closing - A few other chipmunk facts of interest could be that most of them burrow in the ground or live in rocky outcroppings, but some species nest in trees, often taking over bird's nests, abandoned or not. Male chipmunks do not normally care for their young, but the males of several species are quite attentive to their young. Chipmunks will often share a food supply with other chipmunks, but can be extremely territorial in the area immediately surrounding their nest or burrow. The range of a chipmunk by the way, averages 3 acres. Finally, the reason chipmunks store so much food, is they don't put on weight as winter approaches, so when hibernating, they need to wake up on occasion and have a snack to keep them going.