Chipmunks are small members of the squirrel family (of the Tamias genus), but their pudgy cheeks and glossy eyes make them look cuter and friendlier than any common squirrel. Twenty-four out of the 25 species of chipmunks live in North America. (The other species, Tamias sibiricus, lives in Asia.) They live in burrows that they dig themselves or in nests, bushes or logs. Their burrows are usually 2 to 3 feet below ground and begin close to a solid object, like a tree or rock. They also have a secondary exit in open areas that they use as an escape route when predators invade their homes.
Generally, chipmunks gather food and store it in their cheeks until they can put it in their burrow or nest to store. Even though chipmunks hibernate, they don’t store fat; they actually eat the food that they store throughout the winter. Chipmunks rarely interact with one another except to mate during the spring, having only one litter each year. A typical litter ranges from two to eight, and the young will stay with their parents up to two months before they go off and find their own food.
Chipmunks can live up to seven years in the wild; however, many die in their first year due to a lack of planning for the winter.
Fun Chipmunk Facts
- A chipmunk is about the size of a tea cup.
- The cheeks of a chipmunk can expand to about three times the size of its head.
- A chipmunk’s burrow is about 2 inches in diameter.