Least Chipmunk

Tamias minimus

Least Chipmunk

Appearance

Least chipmunks are yellow-grey to brown-grey on top and have black and white side stripes that run from their head to the base of the tail. They have orange-brown sides with a white belly and long light brown/grey-yellow tail.

Range & Habitat

Least chipmunks like pastures, open coniferous forests, rocky cliffs and sagebrush deserts. They can be found throughout most of south-western Canada, reaching as far north as southern Yukon, and as far east as Ontario, with a southernmost extreme in New Mexico and north-western California.

Diet & Behaviour

Chipmunks hibernate from November until March, emerging to feed on young leaves and shoots, earthworms, insects and flowers until their favourite foods (seeds, nuts and berries) become available. On rare occasions chipmunks eat small birds and mammals. Chipmunks fill their stretchy cheek pouches with the food they collect and store it in their nests or in small holes they have dug in the ground. Chipmunks play an important role in the spread of trees, shrubs and plants when they leave ‘left-over’ seeds in their underground storage places because buried seeds are more likely to germinate than seeds lying on the surface!

Lifecycle & Threats

Chipmunks mate in spring, giving birth to litters of four to six young within a month. Although it takes young chipmunks nearly five weeks to open their eyes, they grow quickly to become adults by September! Chipmunks face no serious threats.

Status

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information

www.biokids.umich.edu

Photo: J N Stuart