Creature Feature: Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
By CG Editor Austen Verrilli
Eastern Chipmunks take the low ground. They scamper under the cover of bushes and other covered areas in search of food. If you spot one and look it in the eye a staring match ensues. The chipmunk will freeze with its exits in mind until you make a move.
Rodents and other small mammals seem almost as present on Ohio University’s campus as Ohio University students. Squirrels are most obvious as they lazily hop around College Green and scramble up trees when students approach. Chipmunks too seem to thrive in relative safety and comfort with few predators and plenty of food scraps from students lying on the greens.
Eastern Chipmunks will sit on their hind legs packing their cheeks with food they find. You can observe this if you stay out of the mammal’s direct line of sight. If one is patient enough and chipmunks are adjusted to humans enough they will even slowly approach to take food from a person’s outstretched hand. This does not happen very often though.
- An Ohio State University fact sheet reports that Eastern Chipmunks grow to around six inches in length and weigh about three ounces at full growth.
- Eastern Chipmunks are characterized by a caramel-colored fur, white and black stripes and a white belly.
- The “chip” section of the name “chipmunk” comes from the sound that the small mammals make when they communicate according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Hear the noise here.
- Eastern Chipmunks have a litter of four to five offspring after a 31 day gestation period according to the ODNR.
- ODNR’s species guide also said that Eastern Chipmunks have two breeding seasons each year. The first is February through April and the second goes from June through August.
- OSU’s fact sheet also said that chipmunks are very common in areas of human dwelling around Ohio because people continue to move into their environmental home.
- Chipmunks generally live on the edge of deciduous forests or around low bushes and rocks near homes.
- Eastern Chipmunks can be found from Southeast Canada to Virginia according to Nature Works.
- OSU’s fact sheet also reports that chipmunks can cause damage to homes and gardens as they burrow beneath them.
- Eastern Chipmunks are omnivorous and eat nuts, bugs mushrooms and even small mice according to Nature Works.