Chipmunk is the common
name for any small squirrel-like rodent species of the genus Tamias
in the family Sciuridae. About twenty-five species fall under
this title, mostly native to North America, with one species in
northeastern Asia. The common species of the eastern United States
is the Eastern Chipmunk Tamias striatus, with several species
in different parts of the western US. The name stems from the
loud chip sound that they make, in addition to a rapid trill sound.
They are also called striped squirrel or ground squirrel; however,
the name "ground squirrel" is more usually kept for
the genus Spermophilus, though Tamias and Spermophilus are only
two of the 13 genera of ground-living sciurids.
Though they are
commonly depicted with their paws up to the mouth, eating peanuts,
or more famously their cheeks bulging out on either side, chipmunks
eat a much more diverse range of foods than just nuts. Their omnivorous
diet consists of grain, nuts, birds' eggs, and insects. Come autumn,
many species of chipmunk begin to stockpile these goods in their
burrows, for winter. Other species make multiple small caches
of food. These two kinds of behavior are called larder hoarding
and scatter hoarding. Larder hoarders usually live in their nests
until spring. Chipmunks construct expansive burrows which can
be more than 3.5 m in length with several well-concealed entrances.
The sleeping quarters are kept extremely clean as shells and faeces
are stored in refuse tunnels. If unmolested they often become
bold enough to accept food from the hands of humans. The temptation
to pick up or pet any wild animal should be strictly avoided.
In some rare cases they can carry a disease such as rabies which
would require a painful sequence of vaccination shots if you are
bitten. Although they have been known to steal flower bulbs, Chipmunks
make an entertaining addition to any garden or backyard.
Above Images Come From The