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Trivia Question: True or False?
Chipmunks don’t climb trees.
Correct Trivia Answer: False
Although chipmunks are mostly ground-dwelling rodents, they regularly climb trees in the fall to gather nuts, fruits, and seeds.
The eastern chipmunk is a small, brownish, ground-dwelling squirrel. It is typically 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 hairy, but it is not bushy.
Chipmunks are often confused with thirteen-lined ground squirrels, also called “striped gophers.” The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is yellowish, lacks the facial stripes, and its tail is not as hairy as the chipmunk’s. As this squirrel’s name implies, it has 13 stripes extending from the shoulder to the tail on each side and on its back.
Chipmunk burrows often are well-hidden near objects or buildings (for example, stumps, wood piles or brush piles, basements, and garages). The burrow entrance is usually about 2 inches in diameter. There are no obvious mounds of dirt around the entrance because the chipmunk carries the dirt in its cheek pouches and scatters it away from the burrow, making the burrow entrance less conspicuous.
The diet of chipmunks consists primarily of grains, nuts, berries, seeds, mushrooms, insects, and carrion. Although chipmunks are mostly ground-dwelling rodents, they 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. Chipmunks also prey on young birds and bird eggs. Chipmunks themselves serve as prey for several predators.
Most conflicts with chipmunks are nuisance problems. When chipmunks are present in large numbers they can cause structural damage by burrowing under patios, stairs, retention walls, or foundations. They may also consume flower bulbs, seeds, or seedlings, as well as bird seed, grass seed, and pet food that is not stored in rodent-proof storage containers.
Chipmunks should be excluded from buildings wherever possible. Use hardware cloth with 1/4-inch mesh, caulking, or other appropriate materials to close openings where they could gain entry. Exclusion is less expensive in the long run than trapping, where high populations of chipmunks exist.
Trapping is the most practical method of eliminating chipmunks in most home situations. Live-catch wire-mesh traps or common rat snap traps can be used to catch chipmunks.
Call 1-800-CRITTER (274-8837) if you need help with chipmunks near your home, or find contact local office HERE.
Credits: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, University of Nebraska
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