Chipmunks are small rodents belonging to the squirrel family, and they’re almost exclusively found in North America. With 25 species in this group, there are some noticeable differences between them.
In this article, we’ll be comparing all 25 types of chipmunks.
- Siberian Chipmunks
- Eastern Chipmunks
- Uinta Chipmunks
- Alpine Chipmunks
- Townsend’s Chipmunks
- Yellow-pine Chipmunks
- Lodgepole Chipmunks
- Buller’s Chipmunks
- Sonoma Chipmunks
- Gray-footed Chipmunks
- Siskiyou Chipmunks
- Gray-collared Chipmunks
- Allen’s Chipmunks
- Cliff Chipmunks
- Hopi Chipmunks
- Durango Chipmunks
- Red-tailed Chipmunks
- Merriam’s Chipmunks
- Colorado Chipmunks
- Least Chipmunks
- Long-eared Chipmunks
- California Chipmunks
- Panamint Chipmunks
- Yellow-cheeked Chipmunks
- Palmer’s Chipmunks
1. Siberian Chipmunks
Scientific name: Eutamias sibiricus
Siberian chipmunks are the only species of chipmunk to live outside of North America. They’re common across northern and eastern Asia, usually inhabiting forests and shrubby areas.
There are very small populations of these animals in Europe – they were often imported as pets and the owners would release them in the wild after getting tired of them. This type of chipmunk in Europe is an invasive species, and importing is now forbidden.
Like other chipmunks, they’re omnivores, mostly feeding on seeds, roots, insects, and small reptiles and birds. They’re easily recognizable by their four white stripes on the back.
2. Eastern Chipmunks
Scientific name: Tamias striatus
This species is common in eastern, central, and northern USA, as well as southeastern Canada. The base color of their fur is red and they have brown and light stripes on the back.
Eastern chipmunks are great climbers, but they’re burrowers by nature, building extensive underground networks. They’ll often cover their burrows with natural materials to hide from predators, such as hawks, snakes, foxes, and bobcats.
3. Uinta Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias umbrinus
Uinta chipmunks and all the following species on this list belong to the Neotamias, while eastern and Siberian chipmunks both belong to their respective genera, and they’re both the only species within each genus.
Also sometimes referred to as ‘hidden forest chipmunks’, Uinta chipmunks are a type of chipmunk in Arizona, but also Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, California, and Colorado. They mostly inhabit rocky areas with dense forests, sometimes at high elevations.
Unlike many other chipmunks, they’re not omnivorous and mostly feed on seeds and any fruit they find. In rare instances, they’ll eat insects or animal carcasses, but only if an opportunity arises.
4. Alpine Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias alpinus
Although their population isn’t scarce, alpine chipmunks inhabit a very restricted area of Sierra Nevada in California. They prefer living at altitudes above 8000 feet, sometimes climbing as high as 13000 feet.
Mostly feeding on seeds and grasses, these animals don’t often have the opportunity of feeding on fruits or other animals. They’re also not as arboreal as some other types of chipmunks and they spend most of their time on the ground.
5. Townsend’s Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias townsendii
Mostly found in western Washington and Oregon, Townsend’s chipmunk is a dominant chipmunk in its habitat, as it’s often the only species of chipmunk in its habitat.
They mostly feed on berries, but also a variety of plants and eggs. Since they live so near the Pacific coast where winters are harsh, they can’t afford to be picky eaters.
6. Yellow-pine Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias amoenus
This chipmunk has a dark base body color with black and white stripes down its back. They inhabit the northwest USA, parts of California, and southwest Canada.
Yellow-pine chipmunks are hoarders, preparing for the winter throughout the entire year.
This type of chipmunk in Washington mostly feeds on seeds, and they do not build up body fat during the year, completely relying on their food cache to make it through the winter.
7. Lodgepole Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias speciosus
Another type of chipmunk found in California, Lodgepole chipmunks live in an area ranging from the Sierra Nevada in the north to the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California.
Interestingly, females are larger than males in this species, which is unusual in mammals. They’re important in the ecological chain in their habitat, as they’re often preyed on by foxes, coyotes, snakes, birds of prey, and bobcats.
Lodgepole chipmunks rely on their climbing abilities and their camouflage to avoid predators. Their coloring is a combination of grey, red, and white – which allows them to blend in with the forest surroundings.
8. Buller’s Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias bulleri
A species endemic to Mexico, it’s currently considered a vulnerable species because of habitat loss. This type of chipmunk in Mexico mostly lives in rocky areas near urban environments.
Their natural environment is becoming more restricted by the day because of urban expansion.
9. Sonoma Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias sonomae
Endemic to California, this species is mostly found in the counties of Sonoma and Marin. They inhabit forests and sagebrush plains, where they mostly burrow in the ground, only sometimes nesting in the trees.
They’re recognizable by their two premolars and five dark stripes on the back. Sonoma chipmunks mostly feed on seeds, fruits, insects, and bird eggs. They spend the year filling their food cache, which they feed on during the winter.
10. Gray-footed Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias canipes
Mostly found in temperate forests in New Mexico and Texas, this species nests in burrows, but they climb trees only to avoid predators. Aside from insects, this type of chipmunk in Texas doesn’t eat other animals.
Their primary source of food are berries, mushrooms, acorns, and seeds. Gray-footed chipmunks got their name after the gray coloring on their hind feet, while their entire body follows the gray color pattern.
They’re somewhat territorial and don’t migrate unless they absolutely have to. These chipmunks are important prey to predators in their habitat, especially raptors and snakes.
11. Siskiyou Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias siskiyou
These chipmunks are found in northern California and central Oregon, where they usually inhabit forests. They’re common in the Siskiyou Mountains, hence the name.
Siskiyou chipmunks are omnivorous and insects are often on the menu, as well as seeds and fruits. They’re very useful to plants in their area as they spread seeds around, promoting plant reproduction.
Their white belly and light-brown back make them recognizable.
12. Gray-collared Chipmunk
Scientific name: Neotamias cinereicollis
Found only in central and eastern Arizona and central New Mexico, the gray-collared chipmunk inhabits forests at high elevations where they burrow for shelter.
They’re not afraid of approaching human settlements and will often make rural homes their home too.
Territorial and secretive, these chipmunks won’t leave their burrow unprotected. Even though they’re mostly herbivorous, they’ll prey on small birds and mammals if an opportunity arises.
This type of chipmunk in New Mexico builds burrows near buildings and homes, and they’re very good at hiding them with natural materials, such as leaves and branches.
The burrows can be very long and complex, with several chambers devoted to nesting, food storage, and more than one escape tunnel.
13. Allen’s Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias senex
The shadow chipmunk, which is its second name, is found in California, Nevada, and Oregon, where it spends most of its time in the trees. Because of their climbing abilities, they nest in fallen logs, as well as in the trees.
Unlike most other species on this list, shadow chipmunks put fat on before hibernation and they don’t rely on collecting food to survive the winter.
Aside from insects, Allen’s chipmunks don’t eat animal food as they mostly feed on seeds, nuts, fruits, and fungi.
14. Cliff Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias dorsalis
Found in primarily dry areas of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, they’re named after their primary habitat. Interestingly, these chipmunks usually live near cliffs, and they’re great rock climbers.
Unlike many other chipmunks, they’re social animals if they’re forced into social feeding and they’ll even travel in groups to find food. When it comes to food, they’ll eat almost anything.
They mostly eat seeds and fruits, but they’ll often eat small amphibians, reptiles, birds, eggs, and insects if they have the opportunity. Since they usually hide in rocks, birds of prey are their biggest threat as most animals can’t get to them.
15. Hopi Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias rufus
Unlike many other chipmunks on this list, Hopi chipmunks don’t have black stripes. They’re mostly copper-colored with a few brighter stripes and they’re about ten inches long, with females usually being longer than males.
Found in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, this species is often confused with the Colorado chipmunk. They’re usually found in areas with bare dirt and juniper pine.
Hopi chipmunks wait very long before starting hibernation – sometimes staying active until November.
They rarely feed on other animals and they need plenty of water, unlike most chipmunks, which is why they’re often found near streams and lakes.
16. Durango Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias durangae
Found only in Mexico, Durango chipmunks are some of the smallest chipmunks in the world, with the largest specimens growing up to 5 inches in length. They’re very unexplored and not much is known about them.
Their numbers are great in the area they inhabit and they’re in no danger of extinction. They can be recognized by their grey coat and a combination of black, brown, and white stripes on their back and their head.
17. Red-tailed Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias ruficaudus
As the name suggests, this type of chipmunk with a red tail is easily recognizable by it. Their tail is also very bushy, while the rest of the body is also covered in a shade of red.
Red-tailed chipmunks are found in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and parts of southern Canada. They usually inhabit shrubby parts of forests, where they forage the ground for food.
They mostly feed on seeds, fruits, and herbs, but one specimen was caught in a trap with meat as bait, so it’s believed that they’re opportunistic and will eat meat.
18. Merriam’s Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias merriami
Although this species is primarily found in California, they have partly migrated to Mexico. They’ll live in any type of area if there isn’t any natural competition, but they prefer habitats with plenty of trees and shrubbery.
Interestingly, they don’t hibernate, unlike all other species on this list so far. They collect food and feed on it during the winter, surviving winter in natural cavities found in trees.
Aside from feeding on seeds and fruits, they will kill and eat small birds, reptiles, and insects.
19. Colorado Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias quadrivittatus
As the name suggests, this type of chipmunk in Colorado is very common, but they’re also found in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, where they inhabit areas at altitudes of above 5000 feet.
Interestingly, this species is known for having a warning call when they have to defend their territory – the call is described as a short bark. They often take to the trees to avoid predators, making them more arboreal than most other species.
Colorado chipmunks rarely feed on animals – they mostly eat leaves, roots, stems, seeds, and fruits. They cache food over the course of the year, and they spend the winter in burrows or tree nests.
There is also a subspecies of this chipmunk, called the Oscura Mountains Colorado chipmunk.
20. Least Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias minimus
Least chipmunks might be the most widespread type of chipmunk in North America, as they occupy the majority of the continent, including (but not limited to the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, and Central and West Canada.
In those areas, they inhabit forests, usually near rock cliffs. They’re the smallest type of chipmunk at 8 inches in length on average, including the long tail. They’re recognizable by their dark and light stripes on the face and the back.
They’re great climbers, which is why they often build nests in the trees, and they use that ability to catch the first sun rays and warm up in the morning.
They cache food and spend winters in burrows, relying on their pantry to get them through hibernation.
Aside from the standard seed and fruit diet, they also eat snails and insects.
21. Long-eared Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias quadrimaculatus
Long-eared chipmunks are found in California and Nevada, usually inhabiting brush fields and pine forests. Aside from burrowing, they often nest on trees, where they hibernate through the winter.
They try to put on fat before winter, but they also cache food that they rely on during hibernation.
When feeding, they forage the forest floor for seeds, grains, and fruits, and they rarely take to the trees when alarmed. Instead, they’ll hide in a burrow or an empty tree log.
22. California Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias obscurus
The range of these chipmunks is restricted to temperate and scrub forests of California and Mexico, where they’re usually active in the early morning and late afternoon.
They rely on their food for water, so they’re not dependent on free water sources.
California chipmunks keep their food in caches in their dens and they eat it throughout the winter. They’re one of the very few types of chipmunks that don’t hibernate!
23. Panamint Chipmunks
Scientific name: Neotamias panamintinus
These rodents live in isolated populations, located in California and Nevada. They inhabit pine forests with rocky surfaces – they prefer areas with cliffs. When standing on a cliff, these chipmunks can observe a 300-foot area radius around them, which testifies to their impressive eyesight.
Even though these chipmunks hibernate, they’ll leave their den during warmer days. They make it through the winter by caching food, which mostly consists of wood, bark, seeds, and fruits – insects and carrion are rare.
24. Yellow-cheeked Chipmunk
Scientific name: Neotamias ochrogenys
Yellow-cheeked chipmunk is the largest type of chipmunk in the world, reaching almost 12 inches in length. They’re a very limited species, found only in the coastal region of northern California, where they’re active throughout the year.
These chipmunks do not hibernate and they continue with their daily activities during the winter, albeit at a slower rate. They build burrows with complex tunnels, where they live a solitary life.
They mostly feed on insects, seeds, grains, and fruits.
25. Palmer’s Chipmunk
Scientific name: Neotamias palmeri
The final entry on the list is also the most endangered one – Palmer’s chipmunks are fighting habitat reduction by the spreading of Las Vegas.
This type of chipmunk in Nevada depends on that environment, as it’s endemic to the state and it can’t live anywhere else.
Out of all chipmunks, Palmer’s chipmunk might be the most aggressive one – they’re known for their territorial and defensive behavior.
This is also observed in feeding, as they’re not afraid of killing and eating mice, insects, and small birds. They also eat seeds and fruits.
Aside from Siberian chipmunks, these small animals are widespread around the USA, Canada, and Mexico. They usually inhabit forests and shrubby areas, where they nest in burrows or build their nests in trees.
They mostly feed on seeds and fruits, but they’ll often eat insects and small animals, given the opportunity.
When threatened, some species will call out to warn other chipmunks, before hiding in their burrows or climbing trees to escape predators. They’re very important to predators, especially birds of prey and snakes, as they’re common prey.
Most species hibernate during the winter, relying on their pantry to supply them with enough food to make it through the cold. A small number of species build up fat and don’t hibernate, continuing their activities through the winter.