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Chipmunks (Tamias striatus), is a member of the squirrel family and is common throughout Indiana and the eastern United States.
Chipmunk is a small, brown, burrow-dwelling squirrel. It typically measures 5 to 6 inches long and weighs about 3 ounces. It has two tan and five blackish longitudinal stripes on its back, and two tan and two brownish stripes on each side of its face. The longitudinal stripes end at the reddish rump. The tail is 3 to 4 inches long and is hairy.
Chipmunks typically inhabit mature woodlands and woodlot edges, but they also inhabit areas in and around suburban and rural homes. Chipmunks are most active during the early morning and late afternoon. Population densities of chipmunks are typically two to four animals per acre, although densities may be as high as ten animals per acre if sufficient food and cover are available. The home range of a chipmunk may be up to 1/2 acre, but adult animals defend a territory only about 50 feet around their burrow entrance.
The diet of chipmunks consists primarily of grains,nuts, berries, seeds, mushrooms, insects, and carrion. Chipmunks also prey on young birds and bird eggs. Chipmunks spend most of their time on the ground, but regularly climb trees in the fall to gather nuts, fruits, and seeds. Chipmunks cache food in their burrows throughout the year. By storing and scattering seeds, they promote the growth of various plants.
Life Cycle: Chipmunks are generally solitary and protect their territories except during courtship, or when the young are developing. Mating occurs two times a year: during early spring and again during the summer or early fall. There is a 31 day gestation period.
Two to five young are born in the spring and during August â€“ October. The young are sexually mature within one year. Adults may live for up to three years. Young appear for the first time above ground when they are 2/3 full size. The average territory of a chipmunk is about 1/4 to 1/2 acre, but the adult usually only defends an area about fifty feet around the burrow entrance. Chipmunks are most active during the early morning and late afternoon.
Populations of chipmunks average between 2 and 4 animals per acre. The home ranges often overlap among the individuals. However, populations as high as 10 chipmunks per acre are possible if sufficient food and cover are available. With the onset of cold weather, chipmunks enter a restless hibernation during late fall or early winter and are relatively inactive during the winter months. Some individuals, however, are occasionally active on warm, sunny days during the winter. Most chipmunks have emerged from hibernation by early March.
Damage: Chipmunks present in large numbers can cause structural damage by burrowing under patios, stairs, retention walls, or foundations. They also may consume flower bulbs, seeds, or seedlings, as well as bird or grass seed and pet food not stored in rodent-proof containers.
Control: Homes with wooded lots, thickets of ornamental shrubbery and dry rock walls are attractive to chipmunks. This habitat can be made less attractive to the animals by altering the pattern of natural and ornamental plantings. However, most people value their trees and shrubs too highly for drastic modification of the landscape and may opt to tolerate the chipmunks as a part of the natural community.
Trapping : Trapping is the most practical method of eliminating chipmunks from many home situations. Live-catch wiremesh traps or common rat snap-traps can be used to catch chipmunks. Live traps can be purchased from local hardware stores or pest control companies, or rented from local animal shelters.
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