Chipmunk, diminutive member of the squirrel family belonging to genus Tamias. Five are found in Canada, from the Maritimes to parts of BC, southern YT and southern NWT: eastern chipmunk (T. striatus), least (T. minimus), yellow pine (T. amoenus), Townsend's (T. townsendii) and red-tailed chipmunks (T. ruficaudus).


The largest is the eastern chipmunk weighing about 100 g. It is restricted to east of Saskatchewan. The other species are smaller - ranging from 35 g for least chipmunk to 85 g for Townsend's chipmunk. Alert, sprightly animals, chipmunks run with tails erect. All have 5 dark stripes down the back; eastern chipmunks also have 2 lateral stripes on each side ending at the rump.


Chipmunks hibernate in subterranean nests, feeding on stored foodstuffs during frequent arousals. Chipmunks are omnivorous, eating seeds, nuts, invertebrates and occasionally small eggs.

Reproduction and Development

Most species of chipmunks bear one litter (5-6 young) each summer; eastern chipmunks, 2 (3-4 young).They are too scarce to be economically significant, but being diurnal, attractive and almost constantly busy, they afford pleasure to all who watch them.