Suburban Chipmunk


I saw this little chipmunk on our back porch before the snow came. You can tell it’s a

A chipmunk showed up on my back porch recently.

A chipmunk showed up on my back porch recently.

chipmunk instead of a ground squirrel because of the lines that start on its face and run all the way down its back. While ground squirrels have lines down their backs, they lines only start after the “golden mantle” on their shoulders.

I have no idea what the chipmunk was doing in our backyard — they usually live in colones in the spruce-fir forest between 8000-11,500 feet. They’re a social species that lives in colonies. They bark a high pitched “chip” to stay in contact with each other, and to warn each other of danger. Without other chippies around, individuals are exposed to more danger.

A suburban lawn doesn't offer the seeds or nuts that a chipmunk eats. Nor does it offer bare ground in which a chipmunk caches its food.

A suburban lawn doesn’t offer the seeds or nuts that a chipmunk eats. Nor does it offer bare ground in which a chipmunk caches its food.

Chipmunks are spread from Siberia and Korea to the east coast of North America. Most species that are so widely spread have sub-species, and chipmunks are no exception — Wikipediea lists 25 types of chipmunk. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipmunk

Although they live in evergreen forests, chipmunks live in tunnels in the ground. They cache the seeds and berries that they’ve found in small pits scattered through the forest. They recover most of the seeds through the winter. Yes, through the winter — the western sub-species of chipmunk doesn’t hibernate. The seeds that the chippies don’t dig up are left to sprout, so chipmunks are important for helping trees spread throughout the forest.

None of which really explains why this little guy was in my backyard. I hope that he found better habitat before the snows came.

About Amy Law

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...
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