|Tamias striatus (Linnaeus)|
Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
- Adult total length:
8 3/4 - 10 in. (220 - 255 mm)
3 - 4 in. (75 - 100 mm)
- Hind foot:
1 1/8 - 1 5/8 in. (30 - 40 mm)
2 1/2 - 5 oz. (70 - 140 g)
The eastern chipmunk is reddish-brown with five conspicuous dark
dorsal stripes. The underparts are white. The tail is well-haired,
the ears are prominent and rounded, and internal cheek pouches
are present. An albino chipmunk was observed at Newfound Gap during
September (Stupka, 1944).
left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull
ventral view of skull
The eastern chipmunk inhabits the forests of eastern North America west to
northeastern Louisiana, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, eastern Iowa, and
eastern North Dakota.
||Mice, Rats, Hamsters, etc.
||Woodchucks, Chipmunks, and Squirrels
Chipmunks prefer deciduous hardwood forests, especially rocky areas, the edges
of grass balds and clearings, and farmlands. They can climb well but spend most
of their time on the ground.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
The eastern chipmunk has been recorded from all elevations in
the park, although they are much less abundant in the spruce-
fir forests than in the deciduous woodlands (
- Blount Co.:
Abrams Creek; Bull Cave; Cades Cove; Gregory Bald
Trail; Thunderhead; Russell Field.
- Cocke Co.:
Cosby; near Low Gap (2,700 feet).
- Sevier Co.:
Greenbrier Cove (1,800 - 3,500 feet); Mill Creek (
2,000 - 2,400 feet); Elkmont (2,500 feet); Fort
Harry Cliffs (3,200 feet); Horseshoe Mountain (3,500
feet); Chapman Prong (3,500 feet); Eagle Rocks Creek;
Sugarland Mountain (4,400 feet); Mt. Guyot; Mt. LeConte;
near Newfound Gap (5,100 feet).
- Haywood Co.:
Black Camp Gap; Pin Oak Gap (4,500 feet).
- Swain Co.:
Deep Creek; Forney Creek; Smokemont; Sunkata Ridge;
Welch Ridge; Richland Mountain; Indian Gap; Clingmans
Dome (6,500 feet).
Eastern chipmunk males emerge from winter burrows with testes inlarged
and scrotal, and cluster near the burrow system of a female on her day
of estrus. Gestation lasts for one month. Litter size averages three to
five young that are born in either early spring or in mid-summer. A
lactating female with four embryos was recorded August 21, 1984 (Ambrose, 1986). The young nurse for six weeks, and first
appear above ground shortly before lactation ends. They reach adult size
at five to seven months of age.
The life span in the wild for an eastern chipmunk is probably between two
to four years, although some have lived at least eight years.
- Terrestrial Ecology
Eastern chipmunks are diurnal and live a solitary existence most of the
year, although family groups may sometimes overwinter together. Chipmunks
may become inactive during periods of high temperatures in summer and
during severe winter weather. Even though in some regions they enter into
a deep sleep, they do not store fat and must awaken periodically to feed
on stored food. Occasionally, active chipmunks may be observed when snow
is on the ground. They have been seen during every month of the year in
Food consists chiefly of nuts such as acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts, and
walnuts; small seeds; berries; wild grapes; and a variety of small animal
life including snails, earthworms, and insects. Chipmunks in the park have
been observed feeding on acorns (Quercus sp.), chestnuts (
Castanea dentata), and the mast of such trees as silverbell (Halesia
carolina) and beech (Fagus sp.). A pile of opened land snails
was found at the entrance to a chipmunk burrow near Bull Cave in Cades Cove
in March (Stupka, 1935). Much food is stored during
late summer and fall. The large internal cheek pouches are used for
transporting food to underground storage chambers or other cache sites.
The cheek pouch of one chipmunk examined in the park contained a wild grape.
- Predators and Defense
Eastern chipmunks may be captured by a variety of predators including
snakes, hawks, foxes, bobcats, and weasels. Known predators in the park
include black rat snakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta) and timber
rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus). A chipmunk that had been struck
by a rattlesnake was found along the Little River (
Stupka, 1943). The stomach of a timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus
) taken near Pin Oak Gap (4,500 feet) contained the remains of a
chipmunk (Stupka, 1949). Savage (
1967) recorded chipmunks in four timber rattlesnakes.
None recorded from the park.
Links to Other Sites
- Special Protection Status
- In Park:
All plants and animals are protected within
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Collection requires a permit which is usually
granted only for research or educational purposes.
- Map development
- Web page design & coding
- Denise Lim, University of Georgia, Athens
- John Pickering, University of Georgia, Athens
Ambrose, J. P. 1986.
Dynamics of ecological boundary phenomena along the borders
of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Ph.D. diss., University
of Georgia, Athens, Ga. (Also National Park Service - Coop.
Studies Unit Tech. Rep. 34. February, 1987).
Ellis, L.S. 1999.
Eastern chipmunk. Pages 388 - 389. In: D.E. Wilson, and S. Ruff
(eds.). The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals.
Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Komarek, E. V. and R. Komarek. 1938.
Mammals of the Great Smoky Mountains. Bulletin of the Chicago
Academy of Sciences 5 (6): 137 - 162.
Linzey, D. W. 1995a.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Blacksburg,
Virginia: The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Linzey, D. W. 1995b.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park-1995 Update.
Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 111(1):1-81.
Linzey, D. W. 1998.
The Mammals of Virginia. Blacksburg, Virginia: The McDonald
& Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Savage, T. 1967.
The diet of rattlesnakes and copperheads in the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. Copeia 1967 (1): 226 - 227.
Snyder, D.P. 1982.
Tamias striatus. Mammalian Species No. 168: 1 - 8.
American Society of Mammalogists.
Stupka, A. 1935 - 63.
Nature Journal, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 28 vols.
(years) each with index. (Typewritten copy in files of Great Smoky
Mountains National Park library).
Last modified: 10 April, 2002