Lively and speedy critters, chipmunks are small members of the squirrel family. Their pudgy cheeks, large, glossy eyes, stripes, and bushy tails have made them a favorite among animators, and landed them a series of starring roles in Hollywood.
Almost all chipmunks are found in North America. They are generally seen scampering through the undergrowth of a variety plants and shrubs. Some dig burrows to live in, complete with tunnels and chambers, while others make their homes in nests, bushes, or logs.
Depending on species, chipmunks can be gray to reddish-brown in color with contrasting dark and light stripes on the sides of their face and across their back and tail. They range in size from the least chipmunk, which, at 7.2 to 8.5 inches (18.5 to 21.6 centimeters) and 1.1 to 1.8 ounces (32 to 50 grams), is the smallest chipmunk, to the Eastern chipmunk, which grows up to 11 inches (28 centimeters) and weighs as much as 4.4 ounces (125 grams).
Chipmunks generally gather food on the ground in areas with underbrush, rocks, and logs, where they can hide from predators like hawks, foxes, coyotes, weasels, and snakes. They feed on insects, nuts, berries, seeds, fruit, and grain which they stuff into their generous cheek pouches and carry to their burrow or nest to store. Chipmunks hibernate, but instead of storing fat, they periodically dip into their cache of nuts and seeds throughout the winter.
Chipmunks generally have two breeding seasons: one from February to April and another from June to August. After a 30-day gestation, a litter of two to eight is born.