The chipmunk is a common rodent that lives in North America. The most populous species is the eastern chipmunk, which exists in the eastern portions of Canada and the United States. Chipmunks get their name from the almost birdlike chipping sounds they emit as they scurry about in search of food. Adept at climbing trees, chipmunks are smallish animals only about 9 inches long and are characterized by a series of brown and white stripes on their bodies. Between February and April, the male and female chipmunks will breed. The mother is then left to raise her young alone. The gestation period of the eastern chipmunk lasts for 31 days after which as many as two to eight baby chipmunks are born in an underground burrow or den.
The babies are born without hair and are completely blind; they are no larger than the size of a bumblebee. However, the young chipmunks will mature quickly, with their trademark stripes showing up on their coat as rapidly as eight days into their lives. Young chipmunks will have to remain in their burrow with their mother for as long as six weeks in some instances. Their eyes will not fully be opened until after a month, although they start to open partially after four or five days. Once the young have been weaned, they will venture out of the den and two to four weeks after that they become independent, leaving their mother’s burrow. Both the male and female chipmunks will achieve sexual maturity after one year. The female will have another litter of young between June and August.
The chipmunk will forage for food during the daylight hours, eating an array of things since it is an omnivore. Creatures such as snails, slugs, larvae of insects, worms, frogs, mice and small birds will be eaten as will acorns, berries, fruits, seeds and nuts. The home of the eastern chipmunk can be underground, in a tree or a hole in a stone wall. The rodent will store food for the winter months when it is dormant but not truly hibernating. Chipmunks are solitary and will vigorously defend their territory, coming together only to breed. While a chipmunk can live for as long as eight years, the average life span of one in the wild is just two. Mammals such as raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, fishers, weasels and cats will kill and eat chipmunks as will raptors such as hawks and owls.