Thursday, July 12, 2012

Squirrel Facts: The Least Chipmunk

Least but not last, the least chipmunk is the smallest chipmunk species in North America, but it is also the most widespread. It lives throughout the north-central and western United States, and in Canada from British Columbia and southern Yukon to western Quebec. It is found in numerous habitats that include deciduous and coniferous forests and sagebrush plains. As you can see here, it is also among the cutest of the squirrel species.

The least chipmunk is unmistakable in its appearance. It has three dark lines with white in between along each side of its face, and five dark stripes with white in between running the length of its back. The forehead is gray, the sides are reddish brown, and the belly grayish white. Its most noticeable feature is its size. Averaging less than eight inches in length, this tiny ground squirrel weighs less than two ounces as an adult.

The diet is omnivorous. Least chipmunks feed mostly on berries, seeds, nuts, and insects. They have cheek pouches that they use to carry food to the nest. They nest in underground burrows, where they store food for the winter. Like other chipmunks, this species does not truly hibernate, but will become inactive and rarely venture outside during cold weather months. Breeding takes place in early spring, and the litter averages five or six young.

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