Although the average chipmunk (Tamias striatus) has a life span of just three years, they live very exciting and fast-paced lives scurrying among logs, trees, stumps, shrubs and rocks in search of food to store for the winter. How much do you know about these active little critters that call the Forest Preserves their home?
Here are five fun facts about chipmunks:
- Baby chipmunks venture out of their parent’s den at one month of age and find a territory of their own after just two months. They are fully mature after one year.
- A chipmunk’s heart beats at 350 beats per minute until winter hibernation, when it slows down to just four beats per minute.
- Chipmunks are usually 5 to 6 inches long and weigh less than a pound. They are known for having large cheek pouches that can enlarge to three times bigger than their head, which is great for carrying seeds, grass, nuts, berries, roots, mushrooms, corn, insects or small eggs.
- Chipmunks dig burrows that go down three feet into the ground and can be as long as 30 feet. They are are very territorial of their burrow, which is where they spend their winters, mostly in a deep sleep (called a torpor) waking only to feed on the food they have collected and stored in the burrow during the warmer months.
- Chipmunks are a popular source of food for many predators, including hawks, snakes, foxes, raccoons, owls, coyotes and even house cats.
Want to learn more about chipmunks and other local wildlife? Visit one of the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers to talk to a naturalist!