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
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.
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Update: June 2012