Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) 

 

Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are mammals from the Squirrel Family (Sciuridae) that includes four other "squirrels" in the area of French Hill Pond, the Gray Squirrel, Red Squirrel and Northern Flying Squirrel all of which are technically called tree squirrels and the Woodchuck, which along with the Eastern Chipmunk is called a ground squirrel. All tree squirrels climb trees. Although ground squirrels will also climb trees, they prefer to stay on the ground as their classification implies. The family name, Sciuridae, means "shade-tail" because most members of this family have bushy tails that they habitually hold over their backs when they sit. Squirrels are of the order Rodentia, that is, rodents. The genus name refers to something long and the species name is Latin for grooved or furrowed. The photograph above shows a Eastern Chipmink on a bird feeder near French Hill Pond.

The Eastern Chipmunk can be up to about a foot (30 centimeters) long. It is the only chipmunk in Maine and the only survivor in its genus. The upper body and tail are reddish brown  with some rust-colored highlights. The underbelly is white. Each side has one white stripe flanked by dark stripes. A dark center stripe runs down its back to the rump. The front of the head is darker brown. Dark stripes are present above and below the eyes.  The tail has dark stripes. The ears are very prominent. The cheeks have large internal pouches in which the chipmunk collects food.

These squirrels communicate with a number of different vocalizations.

The Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) feeds on slugs, snails, other small invertebrates, nuts and seeds. It stores food in its burrow.

This squirrel will build a home by burrowing in the ground. Occasionally, they will  live in tunnel-like structures on the ground like drainage pipes and stone walls.  They will have a litter of three to five young in the spring and later in the summer.

It will be seen virtually everywhere on Mount Desert Island. Chipmunks will be seen frequently around houses but seldom enter houses. The Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) can live as long as eight years in captivity but live only about three years in the wild.

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