Chipmunks are small squirrel-like rodents that are native to North America, although one species is also found in some European countries. There are 25 different species of chipmunk living in the North American forests.Many different kinds of chipmunks live in Idaho. There is the yellow pine chipmunk, the red-tailed chipmunk, the cliff chipmunk, the lesser chipmunk, and a few more. The majority of these chipmunks are small, with stripes of either brown, black, or white down their backs.
Chipmunk, © John J. Mosesso, courtesty /life.nbii.gov
Habitat: You will usually see chipmunks dwelling in coniferous forests (like ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests), although they can be found in chaparral (brush). They can often be found among logs, brush and rocky outcrops, as well as brushy borders between subalpine forests and alpine tundra. They are fast-moving creatures, and they can quickly dart into their underground burrows when you approach them.
Food: Chipmunks eat a wide variety of wildlife like frogs, mushrooms, birds, eggs, plants, nuts, and seeds. In the autumn, the chipmunks begin to gather their winter food stash, which they store in their burrows to last them until spring. They also play a vital role in the forest eco-system by dispersing seeds from fruits and berries into the surrounding forest. The seeds then sprout and grow new fruit and berry plants.
Fun Facts: Chipmunks construct extensive underground burrows which can be more than 3.5 m in length and often have several well-concealed entrances to keep the burrow a secret from unwanted predators. Within the chipmunk burrow, the chipmunk sleeping quarters are kept extremely clean as the chipmunks keep nut shells and feces stored in separate tunnels.
Chipmunk, courtesy of U.S. National Park Service