Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
Nature Bulletins
Newton Home Page

Introduction and Instructions

Search Engine

Table of Contents



The Chipmunk
Bulletin No. 94   November 30, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

The chipmunks have disappeared and are hibernating in their grass- lined nests deep in the ground below the frost line. One pair under observation during the past three years was last seen on October 10. The first time they appeared this year was on March 20, but in 1945 their tracks were seen in the snow on March 3.

The chipmunk is one of the most attractive and best known of our small mammals -- brightly marked, inquisitive, timid but easily tamed, scuttling about the woods, along fences, or around piles and walls of rock with its tail extended or held stiffly erect, pausing on a log or a boulder to watch and scold you. When alarmed it utters a shrill high- pitched chirping whistle accompanied by twitches of its tail and body.

The chipmunk scurries up and down trees but spends most of its time on the ground, gathering seeds, nuts, acorns and berries. They also eat insects, young mice and occasionally bird's eggs. Beneath logs, stumps and rock piles are concealed entrances to their burrows, which may be 20 feet or more in length, with several branches to chambers stored with food and to the nest.

The chipmunk should not be confused with the Thirteen-striped Ground Squirrel, commonly and incorrectly called a gopher. The latter does not climb, prefers dry open fields, and is frequently seen darting across a highway or sitting upright and motionless in a pasture. The ground squirrel has a longer slenderer body, a short skimpy tail, smaller ears, and 13 stripes on its back and sides: the dark stripes dotted with rows of yellowish spots.

The chipmunk is stockier and has a flat bushy tail almost as long as its body. Down the middle of its back runs a dark stripe. On each side there are two dark stripes separated by a prominent whitish stripe. There is a dark stripe running through each eye, with a buff stripe above and below it.

The true gopher is the Pocket Gopher, an animated steam shovel that lives largely underground, like the mole, in a widespread labyrinth of tunnels -- surly, solitary and seldom seen.

To return to the Nature Bulletins Click Here!
Hosted by NEWTON

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Sponsered by Argonne National Labs