About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How many different types of chipmunks are there?

Hi, I was looking for a 'chipmunk information' site and clicked on yours. I am wondering if there is a difference in Eastern and Western chipmunks?  We live in western (BC) Canada and have had a chipmunk showing up off and on all spring and summer. It has been some weeks since we last saw our little guy scampering around amidst our bushes and flowers. Are the hibernating practices of our chipmunks the same as the ones in the east?

Do they have a territory and stay there all the time or do they move around? We have squirrels as well and I wondered if they were displacing the chipmunks in the past....this little guy seemed to not be bothered by them.

I appreciate your information site. As I live on the other side of the continent, it is unlikely I will ever visit one of your stores (mores the pity as I would probably find many 'have to have' items to purchase!), so will understand if you don't respond to this.  I just wanted to thank you for caring about our little co-habitors of this planet....too few people consider their well being in their daily lives, I'm afraid. Thanks for doing such a great job....

Least chipmunks
There are 25 known species of chipmunks in the world. Fifteen species of native chipmunks of the genus Eutamias and one of the genus Tamias are found in North America. The Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) and the Least Chipmunk (Eutamias minimas), are the two most widely distributed species.

You probably have the Least Chipmunk the smallest of all chipmunks and similar in appearance to our Eastern Chipmunk. Least Chipmunks distribution includes western Canada from the Yukon, south through Sierra Nevada and Southern New Mexico, and east to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Quebec Canada.

Most chipmunks are characterized by having black stripes that run down the middle and sides of their back. The least chipmunk's outside black stripes on each side of its body are complimented by white stripes. White stripes also run from nose to ear above and below the eye.

Eastern Chipmunk
Least chipmunks are most active between April and October. During the winter the chipmunks retire to underground burrows, where they enter torpor (short times of hibernation) and live off stored food until spring. Larger squirrels don't displace them.

A lot is still unknown about these animals. Home ranges have been estimated at 1/4 of an acre. Some areas have up to 6 individuals per acre. In general, they are not social, except for mating in the spring and rearing young.

Females usually have a single litter of 2-6 young after a 30 day pregnancy. The teeny tiny pups are born naked and don't open their eyes until 28 days later. The mother nurses her young for two months and then they are on their own after they are taught by her to hunt for nuts, berries, fruits, grasses, fungi, snails, and insects in a six week survival course.

Thanks for the question. You can look for a Wild Birds Unlimited store near you by going to https://maps.wbu.com/find.php. Maybe you have a local store that can provide you with more details. Have a great day, Sarah

You can find a list of all chipmunks in the book Mammal Species of the World.
The 25 species include: Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), Least chipmunk, Neotamias minimus, Alpine chipmunk, Neotamias alpinus, Yellow-pine chipmunk Neotamias amoenus, Buller's chipmunk, Neotamias bulleri, Gray-footed chipmunk, Neotamias canipes, Gray-collared chipmunk, Neotamias cinereicollis, Cliff chipmunk, Neotamias dorsalis, Durango chipmunk, Neotamias durangae, Merriam's chipmunk, Neotamias merriami, California chipmunk, Neotamias obscurus, Yellow-cheeked chipmunk, Neotamias ochrogenys, Palmer's chipmunk, Neotamias palmeri, Panamint chipmunk, Neotamias panamintinus, Long-eared chipmunk, Neotamias quadrimaculatus, Colorado chipmunk, Neotamias quadrivittatus, Red-tailed chipmunk, Neotamias ruficaudus, Hopi chipmunk, Neotamias rufus, Shadow chipmunk, Neotamias senex, Siskiyou chipmunk, Neotamias Siskiyou, Sonoma chipmunk Neotamias sonomae, Lodgepole chipmunk, Neotamias speciosus, Townsend's chipmunk, Neotamias townsendii, Uinta chipmunk Neotamias umbrinus, and Siberian chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus).

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Garage said...

Great post! I really love chipmunks. I recall my friend told me that I look like a chipmunk. It was really funny.

Anonymous said...

i love chipmunks alot i can feed them from my hand its really cool