Chipmunks are one of the most common backyard wild animals. These small striped rodents enjoy living in shady yards that have some form of structure for them to hide in or around. Sometimes people confuse them with thirteen lined ground squirrels, which are about the same size but prefer to live in large lawns in the open sun.
Several species of chipmunks live in the United States. Most are in the West and the most commonly encountered species is the Eastern Chipmunk that frequent yards.
Chipmunks love retaining walls and woodpiles, especially those that have many nooks and crannies. They are efficient diggers and sometimes make so many tunnels that a wall slumps or collapses and a woodpile teeters over.
The small mammals eat seeds, fruit, and an occasional insect. They are efficient tree climbers and harvest fruits like cherries on the uppermost slender branches. Chipmunk heaven is a shady yard with a retention wall and bird feeder to provide a daily seed banquet.
Some people resent chipmunks because of their incessant tunneling. Box trapping and moving the animals rarely reduces the population of a species that has many babies. Keeping bird seed off the ground and contained in feeders may reduce a chipmunk population somewhat. Hawks and snakes enjoy dining on these small mammals. Encouraging predators to share the yard will help keep chipmunk numbers in check.
We like the chipmunks that live in our backyard at Winding Pathways. They’re beautiful animals that make us smile when we spot one with cheek pouches crammed with seeds. They’ve undermined our low rock wall in a few places, but we just repair it and consider the damage a small price to pay for the wonderful entertainment chipmunks provide on summer days.