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WHAT IS THE CHIPMUNK?


The chipmunk is a terrestrial type of squirrel, meaning that it lives underground and emerges only by necessity. The name chipmunk comes from the Native American word chitmunk which describes the way in which the animal climbs down from trees head first.



The lifespan of the Eastern Chipmunk is approximately three years and much of this time is spent digging extensive burrow systems. The chipmunk has two types of burrows: short, simple tunnels used for quick escapes from predators, and more complex systems with tunnels extending more than 30 feet in each direction from the main entrance. The longer tunnels include nesting chambers, long term food storage areas and several exits. The home range of the chipmunk is typically about 250 sq. yards, but can increase to 5000 sq. yards when food is scarce.














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The chipmunk's diet is mostly vegetarian, consisting of acorns, nuts, seeds and fruit. In times of need it may include spiders, insects and bird eggs. It collects food mainly from the ground but may also climb trees in search of treats. Like other rodents, the chipmunk has sharp teeth which grow continually throughout its life. Gnawing is necessary to keep them trimmed to an acceptable size. Pouches in the sides of the mouth allow the chipmunk to carry large quantities of food. Each pouch can carry several acorns. Large eyes give the chipmunk excellent vision and the ability to distinguish colors in the darkness of the burrow. It has many predators including large birds, owls and other mammals.

 

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