Find eastern chipmunk information at Animal Diversity Web
80 to 150 g; avg. 130 g
(2.82 to 5.28 oz; avg. 4.58 oz)
215 to 285 mm; avg. 255 mm
(8.46 to 11.22 in; avg. 10.04 in)
Eastern chipmunks are reddish brown in color. Their backs are striped with alternating black, white, and reddish-brown. Their eyes are rimmed with white fur. Their stomach is usually a yellowish brown or white color. Their tails are reddish brown tipped with black and well-furred. Eastern chipmunks have cheek pouches that they use to transport food items, nesting material, and soil from their burrows. When these cheek pouches are full each can be nearly the size of the chipmunk's head.
Eastern chipmunks are only native to the Nearctic region. They live throughout eastern and central United States as far south as Louisiana and Mississippi. They occur north into Canada including southern Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba, and New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
Eastern chipmunks are found primarily in open, deciduous forests throughout their range. They are often found near rocks, stumps, or fallen logs which serve as perching and runway sites. They construct burrows in dry, well-drained soil. These burrows can be quite extensive and include storage chambers for food and multiple entrances. Eastern chipmunks hide burrow entrances with leaves and rocks and may live in them for several years. Eastern chipmunks do well in urban and suburban areas by using parks, golf courses, cemeteries, and woodlots.
1 to 9; avg. 4
31 days (average)
6 weeks (average)
1 years (average)
1 years (average)
Eastern chipmunks have 2 breeding seasons. One season begins in February and lasts until April and the second begins in June and ends in August. Males and females do not stay together after they mate. Eastern chipmunks can begin having babies when they are about 1 year old. The time from when a female gets pregnant to when she gives birth is 31 days and the usual litter size is 4 to 5, although litters as large as 9 have been found. Young Eastern Chipmunks do not appear above ground for 6 weeks after they are born.
Young are cared for in the nest by their mother until they are weaned at about 6 weeks old. Soon after that they disperse from their mother's range.
1 years (average)
About half of all chipmunks in any given year are young that were born in that season. Chipmunks in the wild live, on average, just over one year.
Eastern Chipmunks are solitary and will defend small areas around their burrows. They chase away neighbors using threats, chasing, and fighting. Eastern Chipmunks can often be seen sitting on a perch and 'chipping', the sound which gives them their name. The perch is usually close to an entrance to their burrow and the chipping may be a way of letting other chipmunks know where their territory is. Eastern Chipmunks do not hibernate throughout the winter, nor do they "fatten up" before retreating to their burrows. They keep large amounts of food in their burrows and build nests on top of it. During the winter months they wake up periodically and snack on their stored nuts and seeds.
Eastern chipmunks have excellent vision, hearing, and sense of smell. They communicate with each other by making a variety of sounds, including the 'chip' for which they are named.
Eastern chipmunks are omnivores. They eat a wide variety of foods including nuts, acorns, seeds, mushrooms, fruits, berries, and corn. They also eat insects, bird eggs, and sometimes small animals such as young mice.
Eastern chipmunks are alert and fast, they take refuge in their underground burrow systems to escape from predators. Eastern chipmunks are preyed on by foxes, snakes, hawks, owls, falcons, and weasels.
Eastern chipmunks are often common small mammals in the areas where they live. Because of this they are important as prey items for small predators such as bobcats, foxes, hawks, owls, and snakes. Eastern chipmunks also may disperse the seeds of the plants that they eat and aerate and recycle soil as a result of the burrowing.
Eastern chipmunks sometimes search for food in farm fields causing destruction of crops.
Eastern chipmunks have played a small role in the fur trade. They eat insects and may help to control the numbers of insects. They also can distribute seeds of different plants to new areas.
body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population.
Eastern Chipmunks are not in danger unless where they live is destroyed. The main threat to their survival is farmers who kill them to save their crops.
Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan
Jaime Stephens, University of Michigan
Allen, Thomas B. 1987. Wild Animals of North America. National Geographic Society. Washington, D.C.
Anthony, H. E., McSpadden, J. Walker. 1937. Animals of America. Garden City Publishing Co., New York
Nowak, Ronald. M. 1991. Walker's Mammals of The World. fifth ed. vol 1. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.