Physical Characteristics of Chipmunks

By Jennifer Lynn

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Chipmunks are small rodents of the squirrel family, and are often called ground squirrels. They live throughout the world, but are common in the eastern regions of the United States and Canada. With distinctive body stripping, small stature and cute facial features, chipmunks are easily identifiable by their physical characteristics.

Facial Features

Though smaller than squirrels, chipmunks have similar facial features to their larger rodent cousins. With tiny upright ears, big shiny black eyes and pointy whisker-covered noses, these little rodents have faces that resemble the cartoon and movie characters that have been created in their likeness. Striping around their expressive eyes that includes a pale line around each eye gives definition to their facial features.

Chubby Cheeks

Whether gathering nuts and seeds for a tasty meal or to hoard for long winter months, chipmunks have a unique physical characteristic that allows them to easily carry their food sources. Pouches inside of each cheek enable these little foragers to tuck away many morsels with each mouthful. When chipmunks are transporting food in these pouches, they have an adorable, chubby-cheek appearance.

Coat and Markings

Chipmunks come in a variety of gray, brown and reddish brown shades. However, they are not solid color like their squirrel cousins. In fact, chipmunks are usually buff on their bellies. However, their most recognizable physical traits are their numerous stripes on their faces, sides and backs. These stripes alternate from light to dark shades, giving them contrast that make these tiny critters easily recognizable from other small rodents. Chipmunks also have long tails that are slightly bushy, and often have the characteristic stripes all the way to the tip of their tails.

Size

Chipmunks' tiny size reflects their status as the smallest member of the squirrel family. These little rodents range in length from about 8 inches of the smallest least chipmunk to the 11 inches of the eastern chipmunk. Their total length includes their tails, which are about 3 to 4 inches in length. Even the largest chipmunk rarely weighs more than 5 ounces, but this minute creature can be as small as only 1 ounce in weight.

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Author

Jennifer Lynn has been writing as a correspondent and reporter since 1991. She has written for numerous newspapers and currently writes as a correspondent for Gannett. Lynn has a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on English from Ohio University, where she also studied journalism at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.