Chipmunks are part of the squirrel family and belong to the genus of rodents. This is an Asian (Siberian) chipmunk.
The weight of chipmunks, depending on belonging to any species, varies from thirty to one hundred and twenty grams. The size of chipmunks can be equal to five to fifteen centimeters, and their tail is from seven to twelve centimeters.
Chipmunks are active during the daytime. The underground dwelling of these animals (it is strictly personal, because two chipmunks will never get along in one nest), as a rule, has a simple structure and consists of two chambers. The main food of chipmunks is plant seeds, but they can also eat animal food. Food preparation for the winter season, which is carried out in August, is very important for chipmunks.
Immediately after coming out of hibernation, chipmunks start rutting. A month after mating, from four to ten cubs are born, which after two months may well lead an independent lifestyle. The life expectancy of chipmunks is on average two to three years.
These animals carry approximately eight pathogens of dangerous diseases. These diseases include, for example, tick-borne encephalitis and toxoplasmosis. The chipmunk often becomes a person's pet. The obligatory attribute of the cage (it must be metal) is the wheel.
An interesting fact is that the animal got its name because of the special sound it makes before the rain, which resembles the word "chipmunk".
The cartoon characters Chip and Dale and the film "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (2007) also brought fame to the chipmunks. And the cities of Krasnoturinsk and Volchansk, which are located in the Sverdlovsk region, have the image of a chipmunk on their emblems.
The chipmunk looks like a squirrel. Such an analogy can be drawn if you pay attention to the appearance of chipmunks and squirrels, while in terms of family ties the chipmunk is nevertheless closer to marmots and gophers (by analogy with them, it has cheek pouches that the chipmunk uses to carry small portions of food). The structure of the body of the chipmunk is quite "arboreal" - it is not very long claws, and a significant difference in the length of the front and hind legs.
The Siberian chipmunk is the only representative of the Eurasian chipmunks. This is true. Its body length reaches seventeen centimeters, and its tail is thirteen centimeters. The tail is always more than half the length of the body. The fur of Siberian chipmunks is not long, and summer fur is almost no different from winter fur. The fur of the upper body is reddish-gray in color, and five narrow dark stripes interspersed with lighter ones. The color of the fur on the abdomen of the animal is white.
The distribution area of the Siberian chipmunk is quite large. The Asian chipmunk inhabits the entire taiga zone of Eurasia - however, the highest density of chipmunks is observed in the cedar-deciduous forests of Primorsky Krai. It is here in the most favorable years on the territory of one square kilometer up to two hundred or three hundred of these animals can live.
Chipmunks are active during the daytime. Although chipmunks spend a significant amount of time on the ground, they climb trees quite well. The shelters of these animals are simply equipped shallow burrows. As for the hollows, the chipmunks do not consider them as their refuge so often. The reason for this lies precisely in the predominance of the terrestrial lifestyle in individuals. If talus becomes the place of residence of these animals, then they do not dig holes at all. In this case, the nest settles in the voids between the stones.
The underground dwelling of chipmunks has a simple structure. Of course, this judgment is very relative. In such a dwelling, as a rule, there are two cells. The first is the nesting one, which is full of dry leaves and grass. The second is the pantry. This is where the chipmunks store their supplies. For such underground dwellings of these animals, the presence of small cranks is also characteristic, which serve as a restroom. There is only one way to get to the dwelling - the length of the passage is approximately three and a half meters. The manhole is often located under the roots of trees and is invisible to the naked eye. The chipmunk does not limit itself to only one nest, therefore there are several dwellings on its territory. The chipmunk uses these burrows to preserve supplies for the winter season. Chipmunks can use the spaces under the trunks of fallen trees, hollows at the roots, or in rotten stumps as summer nests. Sometimes an ordinary birdhouse becomes a shelter for a chipmunk.
Chipmunks live alone. Indeed, the word collective in this case is in no way appropriate. Each individual lives in its own area and has its own nests. As for the latter, two chipmunks can never get along with each other in the same shelter.
Chipmunks are characterized by a sophisticated audible alarm system. If the animal senses danger, then it either emits a rather sharp trill, or whistles in monosyllables.
Chipmunks are nomadic animals. They are forced to roam by lack of forage, for example, in lean years. In a new place, these animals create temporary shelters for themselves. For example, in the Far East and Eastern Siberia, the ripening time of grain fields coincides with the time of the chipmunks' migrations to them. Mountainous regions are characterized by "berry" migrations of chipmunks. Naturally, the latter are associated with the time when the berries begin to ripen.
The diet of chipmunks is very diverse. Relatively diverse. A significant part of it is made up of seeds of wild and cultivated plants - seeds of cedar, linden, maple, mountain ash, sedge. In spring and summer, the diet is diversified by the buds, shoots and berries of herbaceous plants. For example, blueberries and lingonberries. Chipmunk raids on agricultural fields with buckwheat and wheat during grain ripening are not uncommon. The harm to the national economy from the raids of chipmunks and other rodents is palpable. The chipmunk rarely eats the obtained food immediately. As a rule, these animals stuff their cheek pouches with food and transfer them to their burrows. Already there, in a calm atmosphere, they eat. An interesting fact is that chipmunks are able to eat not only plant foods, but also animals. Thus, shellfish and insects can be added to their diet.
August is the time to prepare food. This is a very important period for the chipmunks. These animals begin to fill their pantry chamber with grains, nuts, dried mushrooms, acorns, berries. In preparation for the winter season, chipmunks carry food in their cheek pouches. At the same time, together with food, the animals often travel very long distances (even more than one kilometer). The total weight of a chipmunk stock can reach six kilograms. Such stocks of these small animals often attract other animals as well. They are easy prey for, for example, wild boar, sable or bear. If a warehouse with provisions has already been found, then the chipmunk cannot do anything. The small size of this animal does not give him the right to argue with the kidnappers. When stealing, the chipmunk runs next to the thief, while desperately chirping and twitching its tail.
For a chipmunk, such a phenomenon as hibernation is characteristic. It is quite long: it starts in late September - early November, and ends only in March - April; in the northern regions, chipmunks can hibernate for seven months. Hibernation is the reason for the slowdown in all life processes in the chipmunk. For example, the respiration rate of chipmunks becomes equal to only two breaths per minute, and the body temperature of the animals drops to three to eight degrees.
Animals wake up during spring warming. This is where the stocks made in the summer come in handy, which were kept in the same hole during the winter hibernation. Usually, during the winter, the animals do not eat all the cooked supplies, thereby leaving a significant part for a hungry spring - if by this time the supplies are ruined, the chipmunk can die of hunger.
Chipmunks' rut begins immediately after they come out of hibernation. The "gurgling" whistling of females calls on males, who, in response to a similar call, run from a distance of two or three hundred meters. The race is not complete without males fights. A month after mating, the female in her shelter appears naked and blind cubs, whose weight rarely exceeds four grams. Dark stripes on the back of babies appear already a few days after birth. The cubs see clearly only by the thirty-first day of life, after which they become able, under the guidance of the mother, to leave the hole and begin to learn the world around them. The independent life of chipmunks begins at the age of two months. The main concern of young chipmunks is collecting stocks for the winter season, while these animals will reach sexual maturity only after a year. In natural habitat, the life expectancy of chipmunks is on average two to three years.
The Siberian chipmunk is an easy object for hunting. This animal has enough enemies, which are all the predators that inhabit the chipmunk's habitat. The chipmunk is the prey of all small coons (ermines, sables and others), as well as foxes. Often the cause of the death of a chipmunk is a bear, or rather, its teeth (at the moment when it digs the chipmunk's shelter in search of food). Among birds, the enemies for small animals are mainly hawks and buzzards.
Chipmunks are often started by people in city apartments. Moreover, these animals belong to one of the most beloved rodents by humans, the reason for which lies in the unusually beautiful plumage of the animals, and in their daytime (not nighttime) activity, as well as in the cleanliness of the chipmunks. These qualities lead to the fact that the chipmunk becomes a pet. True, these animals reproduce extremely poorly in captivity. Zoologists take control of this process.
If a person decides to have a chipmunk, then he must provide the most comfortable conditions for this animal. The cage should never be made of wood, since the wooden parts are grinded down with incredible speed (a metal cage will solve this problem). But inside the cage, wooden objects (these can be various sticks and shelves) must be, because they are necessary for the animal to grind its teeth. The width and length of the cage should not be less than forty centimeters, and the height should exceed eighty centimeters. A mandatory attribute of the cage for a chipmunk is a wheel, the dimensions of which should be slightly smaller than in the case of a squirrel. The need for a wheel is explained by the increased motor activity of the animal, which, in case of dissatisfaction, will lead to the animal's illness. Moreover, the wheel for chipmunks also plays the role of emotional release, thus helping to avoid overstrain of the animal's nervous system. The cages must contain feeders and a drinking bowl, as well as a house for sheltering and storing supplies (the natural needs of the chipmunk must be satisfied). Of course, you shouldn't forget about the health of the animal. So, if the chipmunk has escaped and needs to be caught, in no case should you grab it by the tail (especially the tip of the tail). The reason for this is that the chipmunk, like many other animals, peels off the skin on the tail rather easily. After that, only the musculoskeletal framework remains, which, as it dries up, is gnawed off by the chipmunk. Thus, the tail will be lost once and for all.
Chipmunks are very clean animals. Chipmunk constantly maintains the "burrow" instinct, using the same corner as a toilet - a soap dish with a double bottom can serve as a tray. The latter must be installed strictly in the place that the animal itself has chosen for itself. The owner should wash the chipmunk's tray and feeders every day. You can clean the cage as soon as it gets dirty. Once a month, it is very desirable to carry out a general cleaning in the animal's cage.
The diet of a chipmunk should be similar to that in nature. Thus, the animal's diet should include various seeds, mushrooms, nuts. Plant shoots, berries, etc. Keeping chipmunks in an apartment requires the use of specially designed food for them. It is dry (70%) and juicy (30%) feed. Before treating the chipmunk with juicy food, you need to rinse this food well under running water. At the same time, of course, also monitor the good quality of the feed. Fruit is given to animals without a peel. The diet of a chipmunk should exclude almonds. The reason is the hydrocyanic acid they contain. The latter is very dangerous for the animal. Chipmunks never refuse sunflower seeds, oatmeal, dandelions, berries and other delicacies. To determine if a chipmunk is getting enough feed, it is necessary to analyze the amount of food it has made.
For home-based chipmunks, hibernation is uncommon. While congeners living in their natural habitat go into hibernation, domestic chipmunks simply become less active. During these months, they rarely leave their house. Moreover, sometimes in winter they begin to show activity similar to summer (they run and eat). However, after a certain period of time, they again return to their shelter and can stay in it for more than two weeks without leaving.
Chipmunks can be hand-taught. In this case, the natural feature of the animal to make supplies helps a lot. This instinct pushes him into forced contact with the person who provides him with food. The fear of a person turns out to be much less than the food instinct, therefore, after an hour of feeding from the hands, the chipmunk ceases to regard a person as his enemy and adapts to him. After prolonged communication, the chipmunk becomes almost a pet that can be petted at any time. Chipmunks always do not mind jumping under the sofas and the floor, running around the wardrobes, and in general millet walking around the apartment - however, if the chipmunk is outside his cage, then he should be under the close supervision of the owner. This is also due to the fact that this animal can climb anywhere and try everything on its teeth. During the walk of the chipmunk around the apartment, it is not allowed to have things in the room from which the animal can fall or which it can drop on itself. In addition, there should be no open sockets, wires, any chemicals and poisonous plants on the floor. You should not regularly let the animal go for walks around the apartment, because, due to its speed and dexterity, the chipmunk can jump out in one second through an open door or window and never come back. When keeping a chipmunk in an apartment, you must not forget that this animal is wild by nature. No matter how well the chipmunk is accustomed to the hands, at the first opportunity it can bite properly - for this reason, the animal must be taken from above. This simple measure keeps your hands free of the chipmunk's strong and sturdy teeth.
The chipmunk is of commercial importance. Small commercial value. In this case, only the skin of the animal is used; Chipmunks are caught during the rut. It is during this period that these animals become readily available.
The chipmunk is one of the most harmful rodents. This judgment is very reliable for the taiga zone. The chipmunk causes significant economic losses. The reason for this is his desire to destroy warehouses with grain in search of food, destroy crops in the fields, steal feed from poultry farms. In the south of Primorye, chipmunks cause serious harm to garden and melon crops. And all in order to get to the seeds they contain.