The Eastern chipmunk is a small, brownish, ground-dwelling squirrel . It is typically 5-6 inches long and weighs about three ounces. Chipmunks are easy to distinguish. They have short, pointy heads marked with two white stripes, one above and one below the eye. They also have five black lines with white striping down the back. They sit upright and hold food with their front feet.
The Eastern chipmunk typically inhabits mature woodlands and woodlot edges, but they are also found in and around suburban and rural homes. The home range of a chipmunk may be up to 1/2 acre, but the adult only defends a territory of about 50 feet around the burrow entrance. Chipmunks are most active during the early morning and late afternoon. Chipmunks favor areas with stone walls or rotting logs and heavy ground cover. They burrow, but excavate the soil, so tunnel entrances are well concealed.
With the onset of cold winter, chipmunks enter a restless hibernation and are relatively inactive from late fall through the winter months. They do not enter a deep hibernation, but rely on the cache of food they have brought to their burrow. Most chipmunks emerge from their hibernation in early March. Eastern chipmunks mate twice a year, first during early spring and again during the summer or early fall. Two to five young are born in April to May and again in August to October. Adults may live up to three years.
Chipmunks are omnivores. Their diet consists primarily of grains, nuts, berries, seeds, mushrooms, insects, and salamanders. Chipmunks also prey on young birds and their eggs. They hoard food for the winter by carrying it in special cheek pouches. A valuable forest inhabitant, chipmunks move seeds around for tree regeneration, and they are an important food source for birds and other mammals.