All About Chipmunks
Chipmunks are among the cutest members of the rodent family. We all grew up with Chip and Dale, the Disney cartoon personification of chipmunks. We all grew up with Alvin and the Chipmunks, the singing trio. They are cute and mischievous and have all kinds of adventures. That can be how real chipmunks seem, active and fun to watch as they scamper about. A group of chipmunks is called a scurry of chipmunks, which certainly fits their personalities! They have large, brown eyes, round ears, racing stripes, and a short, furry trail. Some people have even been known to keep them as pets.
Of course, they can do damage to your property as well. They burrow and dig their way through the ground on your property. They leave ugly holes on your lawn and gardens. They attack the flowers and vegetables that you work so hard to cultivate. They loosen the soil and kill the roots of your plants. They burrow under the foundations of your house and other buildings, weakening them and threatening the stability of your home. They sometimes even manage to find their way into your house.
In this article, we will find out more about chipmunks as we explore some interesting facts about them.
Size and Appearance
Chipmunks are related to squirrels and they are similar in appearance, but they are smaller than squirrels. They are typically about seven to 10 inches. They do not generally grow larger than 11 inches. Their fur is usually brown or somewhat grey. Some are even red. We’ve mentioned that they have stripes. The stripes are white and usually bordered by thin black stripes. They have small claws that they use for digging and climbing.
When in the wild, chipmunks live, on average, up to three years. They are, however, capable of living ten years or more when kept in captivity.
Chipmunks are very much woodland creatures. They are at home in the forests of North America. They dig burrows and also make homes in trees and hollow logs. There are two types of chipmunks- eastern chipmunks and least chipmunks. Eastern chipmunks are found all throughout the eastern part of the United States. Least chipmunks are found throughout the southwest United States and up to Canada.
They build long and complex burrows. Their burrows can be more than three feet deep and twenty feet long. They have special drop holes for quick entrance and exit. They have special areas for nesting and for hoarding food. They even create drainage holes to keep the burrow dry.
Chipmunks are voracious eaters and they eat a wide variety of things. Acorns are a big part of their diet. They love grains and seeds. Raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, and peanut butter are all favorites. They will eat insects, fungi, bird eggs, worms, and even small frogs! Of course, the also love the vegetables in your garden.
Chipmunks are rapid breeders and they increase their population quickly. Eastern chipmunks breed twice a year, in the spring and summer. Least chipmunks breed in the spring. The females cannot breed until they are 10 months old. They have four to five babies at a time.
Chipmunks are great workers. They prepare for the coming of winter by collecting and hoarding food, including acorns, nuts, and even fungi. They hoard their food inside trees and eat it when the snow is covering the ground. This habit shows that they are industrious and adaptable to different environments. It also makes them an important part of the ecological system.
When chipmunks hoard food, particularly fungi and lichen, they spread the spores around, allowing for further growth of the fungi and lichen. Similarly, they spread seeds and nuts around while they are collecting and eating them. Thus, they help to maintain the ecological balance of their woodland habitat.
Chipmunks are adaptable, energetic workers, that can exist in a range of environments and even thrive in the city. They play a key role in their ecosystem. They are cute and lively creatures and fun to watch. The chipmunk is truly a special part of our beautiful woods!