If you live in the northern areas of America, there’s a good chance you already have seen chipmunks. These furry little critters like to hang around spots with trees and vegetation.
It’s typical for chipmunks to scuttle about homeowner yards before vanishing from sight. And it often made people wonder about these creatures’ behavior.
So, you may be asking questions about chipmunks’ nesting, mating, feeding, and surviving methods. Well, let’s walk you through all you need to learn regarding chipmunk behavior below.
Active and agile chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are members of the squirrel family. However, chipmunks are terrestrial or land-dwelling creatures, unlike their tree-dwelling cousins.
Experts identified over 15 species of chipmunks found in North America. The most common species are the Eastern chipmunks and the Least chipmunks.
Chipmunks are known for their adorable appearance, particularly their stretchy cheek pouches. You can effortlessly identify them through the black and white stripes on their heads and backs.
Chipmunks are essentially pygmy squirrels, evolved to survive in rocky and woodland areas. They make nests underground, where they spend most of their time.
Chipmunks have underground nests called dens. They use these dens for storing food, sleeping, hibernating, mating, and raising kittens.
Despite their size, chipmunks can make impressively large nests. A single chipmunk den can run as deep as three feet and span as wide as 30 feet.
Chipmunk nests are made of several tunnels connected to pockets or cavities. They have specific chambers for sleeping, eating, nursing kittens, and droppings.
The furry critters prefer deciduous forests, forest edges, and bushy areas for their nesting spots. They pick locations with enough cover against predators and other intruders.
As terrestrial mammals, chipmunks make their dens underground. They burrow near outcropping rocks, besides dead logs, under thick bushes, or inside tree hollows.
You can also find them nesting near residential areas, yards, fence lines, and farm fields. If you have nut-producing plants close to your home, chipmunks are likely to be around.
Chipmunks are notorious to gardeners and farmers for their digging talent. These critters can excavate roots and bulbs as effortlessly as they breathe.
They use their deft and sharp claws to make their nests. They start by digging an entrance tunnel running straight down the ground.
After making the burrow entrance, chipmunks will create a tunnel parallel to the surface. This tunnel often leads to the main chamber of the nest.
Once done, the chipmunk will dig tunnels starting from the primary chamber. These new tunnels usually connect to other pockets for storing food, giving birth, and more.
The critters will then dig straight holes on the lowest point of their nest. These holes will serve as drainage tunnels to prevent rainwater from filling their burrow.
A chipmunk’s nest will slowly expand over time. It’ll start as a simple nest-to-entrance burrow to become a complex network of tunnels.
A chipmunk’s burrow will have an entrance of about one to two diameters wide. And unlike other burrowing animals, they don’t put mounds of dirt on their nest entrance.
Most chipmunk nests will have multiple entrances. These openings will scatter within a 30-foot area, covering the span of the whole nest.
So, if you notice holes with these characteristics near your garden or fences, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a chipmunk nest.
Pop culture usually depicts chipmunks as cuddly and friendly creatures. These illustrations, however, can’t be farther from the truth.
It turns out that chipmunks are solitary creatures. They spend most of their life foraging and hunting for food alone.
In fact, these seemingly cuddly animals are highly territorial. They’ll mark their territories and aggressively chase away intruders, be they predators or fellow chipmunks.
The only time that chipmunks get together is during their mating season. Mating occurs twice annually for these creatures, from February to April and June to August.
During this period, males leave their nests and search nearby areas for females ready to mate. Males often compete for the chance to mate with a female chipmunk.
Now that you know how chipmunks nest, here are five fun facts about these critters to share with your friends and family:
Chipmunks need their fair share of sleep to accommodate their busy schedule. These animals need at least 15 hours of bedtime, which leaves them around nine hours of work time.
Apart from their snooze time, chipmunks are voracious eaters, feeding up to six times a day. So don’t get surprised if you only ever see these creatures munching and gnawing.
Did you know that chipmunks hibernate during the winter? However, unlike real hibernators, they won’t sleep through the winter season.
Chipmunks use vocalizations to communicate with other chipmunks. They produce chipping, trills, and cucking sounds to mark their territory and warn intruders.
The chipmunk’s name came from the “chipping” sound they make. That’s some fun trivia you can share for your next family dinner.
Chipmunks are adorable creatures with remarkable survival instincts and skills. And yes, these spritely critters do make nests underground we call dens.
A chipmunk’s den serves many purposes to aid their survival. They use it to hide from predators, cover from weather, store resources, and nurture their babies.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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