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The Chipmunk (Tamias stratus)

The cute, little animal you see a lot around your house is probably a chipmunk.  Chipmunks are very common throughout Wisconsin.  Chipmunks are around four to seven inches long and only weigh three ounces.  Chipmunks tend to use their cheeks to store excess amounts of food when foraging.  Wisconsin chipmunks can keep food in their mouth up to three times the size of their head!

Wisconsin chipmunks have a variety of habitats throughout the state.  Some of these include: deciduous woodlands, forest edges, brushy areas, bushes, concrete walls, and enclosed areas around houses.  Chipmunks eat pretty much anything that they can fit into their mouth.  Some of their favorites consist of: nuts, seeds, grains, snails, slugs, acorns, nuts, and many handouts from humans.  Chipmunks can be fun to feed, but they can get pretty demanding if you keep feeding them.

When Wisconsin chipmunks talk to each other, they make a bird chirping noise that each chipmunk recognizes.  Chipmunks tend to keep to themselves.  The only time that they usually communicate with other chipmunks is during the mating season.  For their homes, chipmunks make burrows underground; which in turn they spend most of their time in during the winter season.  The only time that chipmunks leave the burrows is during daytime.  If another chipmunk comes around the burrow, the chipmunks become very defensive.

Wisconsin chipmunks have two breeding seasons; April to June and August to October.  The female chipmunk is pregnant for about thirty-one days.  Each litter usually has two to nine babies.  The chipmunks will mate repeatedly for six to seven hours!  Chipmunks have many advantages to their existence.  One advantage is that can run at great speeds; which, helps them get away from predators.

Another advantage is that they have the ability to store a large amount of fat in their bodies so they stay warm during the cold weather.  Chipmunks are also great climbers so, that gives them another place to hide.  Unfortunately, they do have their disadvantages.  Wisconsin chipmunks have a very large list of predators that stalk them continuously.  Some animals (snakes for example) benefit from the chipmunks because they can use the abandoned burrows for homes for themselves. 

Some humans like having chipmunks around because they eat insects and other pests.  There are downfalls for having chipmunks around.  One very annoying aspect is that chipmunks tend to eat up plants from gardens that people plant.  They also like the taste of bird food which is originally not put out for them.  There are however, many predators that keep tabs on these little creatures: humans, hawks, mink, raccoons, weasels, martens, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, red squirrels, cats, and large snakes. 

If Wisconsin chipmunks get the chance to outrun these enemies, they are known to live quite a while.  The males usually live up to four to five years and the females are known to get to nine years old.  Did you know that Eastern Chipmunks come all the way from Asia?  Also, the white chipmunks tend to be more vulnerable to stress and diseases.  Enjoy the Wisconsin chipmunk’s presence, but don’t over enjoy it because they like to keep coming back!

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