Chipmunk, a small, burrowing North American rodent belonging to the squirrel family. It is widely distributed throughout the United States. The eastern species has a body about six inches (15 cm) long, with a slender tail nearly as long as the body. It has five black stripes and two tan ones on its back. There are 16 western species. They are smaller than the eastern chipmunks and are distinguished by five dark and four white stripes along the back.

The chipmunkThe chipmunk carries food in its cheek pouches.

Like many of its relatives, the chipmunk has cheek pouches in which it carries nuts, fruits, seeds, and grain to its burrow. It is considered a pest by farmers. The chipmunk digs long burrows beneath the frost line. Side tunnels lead to food-storage chambers and to the chipmunk's nest, which is lined with leaves. The chipmunk stays here during winter, living on stored food.

Which Rodents Sing a “Cheep” Song?

Chipmunks do! They sing a song that sounds like a short, shrill “cheep” that is repeated several times. Often, other chipmunks join in. Humans can hear these “songs” up to 300 feet (91 meters) away.

Besides singing, a yellow-checked chipmunk also can whistle. It makes a sharp whistle sound when it sees an enemy. Then it races away to safety. And the Alpine chipmunk can make a high-pitched call that sounds like “sweet, sweet, sweet.”

Chipmunks are found in North America and Asia. They live in burrows, or tunnels, that they dig. They store seeds and nuts there to eat in winter.

Chipmunks are members of the squirrel family. Chipmunks that live in North America grow about 8 inches (20 centimeters) long. They often have light-colored stripes, bordered by black.

Chipmunks belong to the family Sciuridae. The eastern species is Tamias striatus. The western species belong to the genus Eutamias.