Saturday, August 03, 2013


Chipmunk - Tamias minimus (Least) or amoenus (Yellow-pine)

Three of the five Canadian chipmunk species reside in South-western Alberta. The Least Chipmunk is the most widespread in Alberta and the only chipmunk in the northern and eastern areas of the province. The Yellow-pine and the Red-tailed Chipmunk also reside in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. This chipmunk does not have an especially red tail and is therefore either a Least or a Yellow-pine. There is no practical method to separate these species in the wild. In the laboratory, genital bone analysis is the preferred method to separate the species. 

I only see one at a time, but there are likely several chipmunks in my garden. They feed under the feeders and then "scatter-hoard" small caches in their territory. The other day I found small caches in my shoe and under a deck cushion. The chipmunk who stored the nuts in these locations is at the bottom of the food-cache learning curve.

Chipmunks have a winter burrow where they hibernate on top of their food hoard. These little animals wake up about once a week to feed and then go back to sleep. Summer nests are constructed in cavities and I am suspicious that there is a nest under my hot tub.

Litters of four or five young are delivered in late May or June and are weaned at 7 or 8 weeks of age. Young chipmunks should start turning up at the feeders this month. Perhaps the "food-cache challenged" chipmunk was just weaned?


Gadd Ben. Handbook of the Canadian Rockies. Corax Press. Jasper, Alberta. 1986.

Naughton Donna. The Natural History of Canadian Mammals. UofT Press. 2012.  

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