Thursday, March 26, 2015

100 Species to Know By Sight - #12 Eastern Chipmunk

Species on #12 on my list of species that every kid (and adult) in Mid-Michigan should be able to identify by sight is the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus).  The Eastern Chipmunk is one of eight species of squirrels that call Mid-Michigan home.  There is one other species of Chipmunk that can be found in Michigan, the Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus), but its range in Michigan is limited to the Upper Peninsula.

Eastern Chipmunk peering from behind a log

The Eastern Chipmunk is a ground squirrel.  It digs extensive burrows and can be found in hardwood and coniferous forests, along forest edges, and in suburban areas.  Despite being a ground squirrel, the Eastern Chipmunk is an excellent climber and will climb trees.

A "tame" Eastern Chipmunk as a state park campground

Eastern Chipmunk identification is easy.  The Eastern Chipmunk is an overall reddish-brown color on its upper parts.  Its upper back is lined with five dark brown stripes alternating with light brown stripes that run from the shoulders to the lower back where they fade out.  The tail typically is covered with the same reddish-brown fur as the body with longer black-tipped guard hairs giving it grayish appearance.  This tail is often held upright as the chipmunk runs.

Eastern Chipmunk - the same campground chipmunk as in the above photo

Another feature of the Eastern Chipmunk that you might notice is its cheek pouches.  Food that is not consumed immediately is cached for later use.  Chipmunks stuff this food into expansive pouches in their cheeks in order to carry it back to their caches.  If a Chipmunk has filled pouches it looks as if its face is swollen.

Eastern Chipmunk - note the filled cheek pouches

Eastern Chipmunk - the same chipmunk showing the filled cheeks from the side

No comments:

Post a Comment