Chipmunks — Now you see them and now you see MORE of them and now you don’t! We know them from cartoons, movies, songs, and books and find them adorable. They are one of the happy harbingers of spring, but most of us don’t know much about them! So — a few fun facts…
They are generally solitary, but chirp constantly when looking for a mate or to warn others of danger. They live in tunnels underground as long as 30 feet with separate areas for eating, sleeping, food storage, nesting, and toileting. Sometimes they even have a shorter burrow to escape the daytime heat and eat safely, and can sleep up to 15 hours a day.
Chipmunks give birth in spring and late summer to about 4 or 5 pups in a litter, with a life span of 3-5 years. Their feces spread seeds for new plant growth and serve as a natural fertilizer, which is very beneficial.
They love to eat berries, nuts (gathering up to 165 daily!) and seeds — and especially what’s in our gardens. To humanely keep them from destroying our harvests, sprinkle the surrounding area with coffee grounds, garlic, mint, or other strong smelling herbs.
These little ones hibernate from late October or early November until the weather warms up again, and their body temperature drops to 40 degrees from 94 and their heartbeat to 4 per minute! But at times they even wake up for a snack if the winter is warm. So – as we change our routines from fall into winter, we can look forward to welcoming them back next spring and looking out our windows with a smile!
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XL, Spring 2022.