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~ The Chipmunk ~

Chipmunks are feisty, adorable rock creatures. They love rocky surfaces, especially those on a incline, but in the suburbs they might settle for a log pile to call "home." They are diurnal, industrious little mammals that dig long, complex, many-chambered tunnel systems. They even tidily store different seed types in seperate areas.

If you have a cherry tree, and cherry pits litter the ground below the branches, chipmunks will gather them up in the fall, leaving empty shells behind. If you have a bird feeder, they will clean up the ground for you. They love in-shell peanuts, and may be emboldened to fetch them from your hands with some patience. They also like to get their vitamins from worms, mushroom, fruits, berries, fresh corn on the cob, and even tubers such as potatoes!

If you feed black sunflower seeds to wild birds, chances are the chipmunks will compete with squirrels. Safflower seeds (from the sunflower relative carthamus) have a bitter taste that the squirrels dislike, but the chipmunks relish. If you are trying to invite more chipmunks and fewer squirrels, you may consider switching from black sunflower to safflower. An added advantage to safflower is that sparrows, starlings and grackles don't care for them, either. Cardinals, on the other hand, being creatures of habit, will slowly adapt to the switch, especially if done gradually, but they grow to prefer it.

Typically, chipmunks will have one or two litters per year. The mother is territorial, and when the babies have matured, they are chased away and allowed to fend for themselves, but they will dig their own "digs" nearby if resources allow it.

If you have a resident chipmunk, you will know it's a female if it chirps continuously in the spring to attract a mate.

Chipmunk excavations rarely cause structural damage. They are especially active in the fall, when they gather food for the winter, a season they survive in a state of semi-hibernation, slowing down their metabolism and surviving on the food gathered in the fall.

View MOVIE of a chipmunk vacuuming up safflower seeds.
View MOVIE of a chipmunk carrying off a large pecan.

Click to enlarge

A Chipmunk Habitat

Chipmunk Links

Chipmunk World - Diane Crutchley's Chipmunk World contains a message board and great information about wild chipmunks, and chipmunks as pets.
Chipmunks Now - Promoting chipmunks on the internet.

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