- Size: About 12 to 21 cm long (excluding the tail)
- Color: Brown with white and black stripes
- Appearance: Distinctive stripes on the back, small to medium size
- Attractions: Availability of seeds, nuts, berries, small insects, structures like stone walls or woodpiles for shelter
- Detection Element: Food storage in unusual places, scratching noises in walls, small holes in the ground
Appearance of the Eastern Chipmunk
The eastern chipmunk, scientifically known as Tamias striatus, is a small rodent easily recognizable by its distinctive physical features. It has a brownish or grey fur adorned with five longitudinal black stripes on its back, separated by lighter bands, often white or yellow. Its size typically ranges between 20 and 25 centimeters, including a relatively short and bushy tail. Its bright and alert eyes are surrounded by black bands, while its belly is lighter, usually white or cream. Its small rounded ears and agile paws complete its characteristic appearance.
Habitat in Quebec
In Quebec, the eastern chipmunk prefers forested habitats, particularly mixed and deciduous forests. It is often observed in areas with trees such as maples, oaks, and beeches, thus favoring regions with an abundance of underbrush and vegetative cover. This small mammal is also common in urban parks and gardens, where it can find both refuge and food. The adaptability of the eastern chipmunk allows it to thrive in various environments, but it favors areas offering easy access to food and shelter from predators.
The behavior of the eastern chipmunk is particularly interesting due to its diurnal activity and sociable nature, although it is mostly solitary. Agile and fast, it is often seen climbing trees or scouring the ground for food. Its diet is varied, including seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, and sometimes small vertebrates. It is known for its expandable cheeks, allowing it to transport food to its burrow. This rodent is also famous for its expressive vocalizations, used to communicate with fellow chipmunks or signal a threat. In winter, although it does not hibernate completely, the eastern chipmunk significantly reduces its activity and survives on food reserves accumulated during the warmer months.
Distinguishing the Eastern Chipmunk from Other Rodents
The squirrel is often confused with the eastern chipmunk, but several distinctive features allow differentiation. In general, the squirrel is larger than the chipmunk and has a longer, bushier tail. Its fur is uniform, without the characteristic stripes of the chipmunk. In terms of behavior, the squirrel is more often observed climbing trees, while the chipmunk spends more time on the ground. Regarding their droppings, those of the squirrel are generally larger and cylindrical, while those of the chipmunk are smaller, less bulky, and elongated.
The rat, significantly larger than the chipmunk, is distinguished by its size, elongated body, and long, bare tail. The color of its fur is generally uniform, without the distinctive stripes of the chipmunk. In urban settings, the rat is often associated with less forested environments than the chipmunk. Concerning their droppings, rat droppings are larger, darker, and oblong, whereas chipmunk droppings are smaller, lighter, and elongated.