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Eastern Chipmunk T. Striatus

Chipmunks are small burrowing rodents of the genus Tamias, which is part of the squirrel family native to North America and significant parts of Asia. They are easily recognized by the five longitudinal stripes on their backs, and cheek pouches in which they use to transport food back to their burrows.

Etymology and Taxonomy[edit]

Tamias (greek word meaning storer) refers to the natural behavior of collecting and storing food larders for the winter. There are twenty-five recognized species of chipmunk including one specie Tamias Striatus in north America, T. Sibericus in north eastern Asia, and the rest in western North America. It is widely assumed that chipmunks received their name due to there distinctive "chip" chip" calls. In fact, its an Anglicized curruption of Native American word from the Odawa tribes meaning "red squirrel". It was labeled by early White Settlers as adjidaumo or sometimes as achitamon. When the vocabulary of Chippewa words was drawn up by John Long in 1791, that tribe's word for squirrel was rendered as chetamon. This forms the bases from which the modern word Chipmunk evolves from by way of chitmunk. Chipmunks are also refereed to as "chippers", "munks", "timber tigers", or "ground squirrel". Though the name "ground squirrel" usually refers to members of the genus Spermophilus. Tamias and Spermophilus are only two of the 13 genera of ground-living sciurids.


An an omnivorous specie, the diet of chipmunks consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, fungi, and insects. Chipmunks will even eat birds eggs, snails, and in rare occasions other small mammals such as young mice.


Chipmunks can usually can be found in various temperate forest habitats of North America and North Eastern Asia where the mainstay of their diet of nuts and seeds can be found. The stripes on their backs blends them in with the dappled sunlight of the forest camouflaging them from the preying eyes of predators. Some species of chipmunk such as the Alpine Chipmunk T. Alpinus can live in alpine regions. A few such Cliff Chipmunk T. Doraslis live in semi-arid climates.

Natural Behavior[edit]

Chipmunks by nature are solitary creatures each defending a territory of an acre or two in area. Eastern Chipmunks will mate once in the spring and those in milder climates will do so again in mid summer. Other species of chipmunks will mate in spring only. Chipmunks will produce a litter of up to four offspring. Yong chipmunks will emerge from the mother's burrow in six weeks and go out on their own two week after. In fall many species of chipmunks will stockpile a cache of food in there burrows which they live off of during the winter.

In Popular Culture[edit]

Some well known chipmunk characters from popular culture include Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Disney's Chip and Dale - Rescue Rangers. An example of a chipmunk character in furry fandom is Dexter Fox's fursuit character Bouncer the Chipmunk.

Puzzlepiece32.png This species stub needs improving.

See also[edit]

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