CHIPMUNK BIOLOGY AND INFORMATION
Chipmunks are adorable and very small animals that are related to the squirrel. Chipmunks are found all over the North American continent and in some parts of Asia. Chipmunks are most readily recognized by their big puffy cheeks and coloring. The coat color of a chipmunk will vary greatly depending on the species. It can be reddish-brown with darker stripes that start on the sides of the head and end at the tail, or its coat can be multi-colored with alternating black and white stripes. The chipmunk is one of the smallest rodents, rarely getting bigger than 8 inches long or weighing more than 2 ounces.
Chipmunks can live in nearly any environment from mountains to deserts. As long as there are shrubs and minimal food sources, a chipmunk can survive. However, they prefer environments that offer a lot of undergrowth such as forests or valleys to protect them from predators. Chipmunks build their homes in a variety of different places from burrows with tunnels and dens to building a nest in a hollow tree or a log. The natural predators for chipmunks include snakes, owls, hawks, weasels, raccoons, foxes and dogs. However, even with this long list of predators, the average life expectancy for these little critters is 3 years.
Chipmunks are omnivores which make it possible for them to survive in a variety of different areas. The main sources of food for chipmunks are grains, nuts, fruits, insects and berries. When eating, the chipmunk will stand on its hind legs and grid its food down to manageable bites. Chipmunks, like any other squirrel, are food hoarders. They will stash the food they find in their enormous cheeks until they can make it back to their den where they will hoard the food in a food chamber. This cache of food is very important to the chipmunks’ survival during the winter because they hibernate, but unlike other animals they do not have any fat to sustain them so they must eat periodically from their cache during the hibernation.
Chipmunks do not like to be around each other; in fact the only time that chipmunks interact is during mating season. During the mating season, a female chipmunk will give a shrill, chirping sound that attracts the male chipmunks. Males will also put on a loud and extravagant show to impress the lady chipmunks. The male during breeding season will chatter loudly and make gesturing with his bushy tail. Ironically, these gestures are the same to issue warnings of danger to other chipmunks or the signal that they are about to fight each other.
The male chipmunk will stay close to the female during the thirty day gestation period and during the first few weeks of the young’s life. The usual litter size is 2-8 young and the young will stay close to the den to learn all the necessary life skills before leaving to make dens of their own. Chipmunks will sexually mature very early and the overall population of chipmunks can explode as easily as it can decline.
Chipmunks are usually classified as a pest species due to their digging and burrowing habits, particularly around houses and landscaping. The most common complaints include the following:
Digging holes and tunnels around house
Digging up the yard
Living in rock walls or even house walls
For these reasons, many people wish to have nuisance chipmunk trapped and removed.
The biggest risk posed to humans by chipmunks are the insects that occasionally bite these animals or live in their fur. Chipmunks can be infested with lice and mites, both of which also infest human hair and can spread some diseases. They also frequently are bitten by ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Though chipmunks cannot spread Lyme disease to people, if the ticks in their fur jump on to people, they can be infected easily.
Give us a call today if you are dealing with nuisance Chipmunks. We offer Free Home Evaluations to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Call Pest Pros at 269-993-0051