Eastern Chipmunk

Tamias striatus
Sciuridae (squirrels) in the order Rodentia

A small, ground-dwelling squirrel with conspicuous lengthwise stripes on the back, sides and cheeks. The tail is well haired but not bushy, is somewhat flattened and is shorter than the body. Background color of the upperparts is a grizzled reddish brown, grading into rusty on the rump and flanks. There are 5 dark brown to blackish lengthwise stripes from shoulders to rump with a buff to whitish band between the two stripes on each side. Belly and sides are buff to white. Tail is blackish above and rusty below with a narrow white or yellowish fringe. The make a variety of calls, especially “Chips” and a soft “cuck-cuck.” They make a trilling “chipp-r-r-r-r” when surprised.

Total length: 8–12 inches; tail length: 2½–4½ inches; weight: 2–5 ounces.
Habitat and conservation: 
Chipmunks prefer timber borderland rather than deep forests. They select wooded banks, log heaps, stone piles, broken rocky ridges or rubbish heaps as sites for their tunnels and nest chambers. Occasionally they live around city homes and farmhouses, where they live in shrubbery, stone walls and old outbuildings.
The first part of the scientific name, Tamias, is the Greek word for “a storer” and aptly describes the food-storing habit of this animal. Mainly eaten are nuts, seeds and berries, particularly hickory nuts, acorns, beechnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts, plus corn and wheat. Perishable foods such as mushrooms and many types of berries are relished but not stored. Occasionally chipmunks eat insects and their larvae, millipedes, earthworms, slugs, snails and other small animals.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Although they range widely in Missouri, chipmunks are most common in the Ozarks.
Life cycle: 
Breeding begins in spring when hibernation ends. Most young are born in April and May, and in July and August. Females have 1 or 2 litters a year. Gestation period is 31 days. Litters contain 1–8 young, but usually 4 or 5. The young start exploring aboveground when 5 or 6 weeks old. Different chipmunks hibernate more or less than others, with some becoming completely dormant in winter, some being active during mild periods and others being active all winter. By early March, hibernation ends.
Human connections: 
These beautiful and exquisite little mammals have a high aesthetic value to us because unlike most mammals, they can be easily observed in daylight. If chipmunks seem problematic, the most practical means of control is trapping and relocating the offending individuals.
Ecosystem connections: 
Their tunneling aerates the soil and checks rain and snow runoff. Their food habits influence the growth of certain plant species and act as a partial check on insect populations. Their bodies furnish food for many carnivorous animals.
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