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Least Chipmunk

Least Chipmunk
Photo Information
Copyright: Denis Mark (dmark11) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 195 W: 9 N: 655] (2633)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2011-09-17
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 60D, 100-400 4.5-5.6L, 77mm UV
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/800 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2011-09-27 21:34
Viewed: 6467
Points: 34
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Least Chipmunk
Tamias minimus

This tiny, usually ground-dwelling member of the Squirrel Family is readily recognized by anyone who gets to see one well, for it occurs almost everywhere in Alberta except in the treeless southeastern grassland area. (An isolated population lives in the Cypress Hills). When it scampers across the trail, tail usually held stiffly upright, then pauses to stare with saucy, sparkling eyes, head often inclined to one side, forepaws held close to its chest, everyone is charmed.

The striped face and back are trademarks of the chipmunks. The Least Chipmunk has two whitish and three dark stripes on each side of the face, and four light and five dark stripes down its back. The overall colour is a greyish brown, but may be quite rust-coloured during the mid-summer months. The smallest of the western Chipmunks, the Least's head and body measures only 93-114mm (3.65 to 4.5 inches) with a bushy tail almost equally as long, which, when running, is held straight up. The Least Chipmunk occupies a wide range of habitats from high altitude tundra to sagebrush plains. It normally is never far from trees or shrubs, most commonly seen on the edges of open wooded areas; seldom in climax coniferous stands. It is most abundant in second growth after fires or timber extracting operations.

The Least Chipmunk ranges from south-central Yukon, eastward through the boreal forest to northern Ontario, just entering western Quebec, and southward into the western US states as far as northern Arizona and New Mexico.

This fast-moving and agile mammal is strictly diurnal, spending most of its time in a frenzied search for food, much of which it stores for winter. Most active on the earth's surface, it is also an able climber, especially when searching for ripening seeds and berries. It rejects the fleshy part of the fruit; rather, it removes the seeds, which it eats or carries back to its larder in its internal cheek pouches. Besides seeds, it also eats many invertebrates, particularly the eggs, larvae and adults of various insects such as grasshoppers, beetles and flies. It also eats the occasional vertebrate, particularly eggs and young birds in the nest, and baby mice and voles.

The Least Chipmunks normally dwells in a chamber in an underground tunnel but in summer it sometimes occupies a hollow log or stump or an abandoned woodpecker cavity. It may even build a bulky spherical grass and leaf nest in the branches of trees. The winter nest is always a cozy chamber in a subterranean burrow at least .05 to 1 m (20 inches to 3.3 feet) below the surface. The burrow is reached through a tunnel about 4 cm (1.5 inches) wide which was dug via a special work hole through which all the soil is removed and scattered, then plugged. As a result, there is no sign of fresh earth near its true entrance. This may even be further hidden under loose leaves.

In late autumn, the Least Chipmunk goes into a state of torpor, not a true hibernation, as its body temperature never drops below +5 degrees C (41 F). It sleeps fitfully, awakening at least every two weeks, to eat some food from its cache located below its sleeping quarters, and to attend to its toilet. Occasionally, such as on chinook days, it may come above ground briefly, but soon return to its slumbers. However, by late March, it again regularly comes above ground.

Within two weeks of their first reappearance, these normally solitary animals are seen engaged in a great deal of chasing, just prior to breeding. A month later, the four to seven young are born, naked, blind, deaf and helpless. They develop quickly, staying with their mother for about two months. Normally, in our area, only one litter is raised, but if the first one is lost, re-mating soon takes place. Densities of six individual per acre have been recorded. In captivity, Least Chipmunks have lived for six years; in the wild their longevity is likely much less.

In Alberta, two other chipmunk species occur with ranges overlapping that of the Least. The Yellow-pine Chipmunk occurs in the extreme western part of the province in the coniferous forest along the Rocky Mountains. It is usually more tawny to pinkish cinnamon in colour. The slightly larger Red-tailed Chipmunk, is usually greyer but has a noticeable redder underside to its tail. It occurs only in the extreme southwest in the vicinity of Waterton Lakes National Park. The larger Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel of the Rocky Mountains has a striped back but lacks the facial stripes of chipmunks.

Least Chipmunks, can often be best detected by their voice, often a monotonous bird-like "wop-wop" or "chip-chip". It also utters a trilling alarm note as it rushes to hide from it has many predators, such as the forest hawks and carnivores. It is always on the alert to the warning alarm calls of other species. Although at first extremely shy around humans, if unmolested, it quickly adjust and soon pilfers any exposed food around a camp-site, even becoming bold enough to take tidbits from fingers. While it is of most benefit for the insects it consumes and the tree seeds it plants, it is perhaps most beloved for its aesthetic value.

From; Weaselhead.org

BREARD, bungbing, PaulLees, paolo49, maaciejka, Pitoncle, pegos, williewhistler has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

cute chipmunk, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • BREARD Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 106 W: 1 N: 419] (2141)
  • [2011-09-27 22:11]

Bonjour Denis,
Difficile de mettre cet écureuil en valeur mais l'éclairage l'a bien permis.
Bonne netteté

Ciao Denis, great portrait of cute creature, nice pose, wonderful natural colors, splendid light, fine details and excellent sharpness, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio

an interesting lovely creature you presenting here Denis,
Great point of view!
George Veltchev

Interesting and beautiful animal Denis! Beautiful photo too. Good POV, excellent composition and fantastic colours.

  • Great 
  • aruntp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 590 W: 1 N: 357] (5379)
  • [2011-09-27 23:44]

good angle. nice work. tfs.

Hi Denis,
A lovely shot of this lovely Least Chipmunk, very nice highlighted eye, beautiful natural colours and great details,
Thanks for sharing and have a nice day,
Best Regards,

Hi Denis, Very nice capture of this little cutie, fabulous rich colours, fantastic pose what with this erect tail and alert look on his face, perhaps not as sharp as you would like it, but hey Denis a wonderful image indeed,
Best Regards,


The pose is everything and makes a fantastic photo. You can feel the energy and alertness of the chipmunk. regards yiannis

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2011-09-28 5:54]

Very cute and alert chipmunk, beautiful image. tfs.

Hi Denis,
Splendid photo, great sharp and colorful details, TFS! Paolo

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2011-09-28 11:08]

Hello Denis,
cute little creature this Chipmunk is. Yes, he does look very nervous of you there. Pretty fur, I love his colours too.Best regards Siggi

Hi Denis,
very nice photo of this squirrel. Amazing colours. Very good sharpness. Suitable background.
Thanks for sharing,

Bonjour Denis,
Très belle et tendre publication, pleine de délicatesse, valorisant bien le sujet dans une très belle lumière.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

  • Great 
  • pegos Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 222 W: 0 N: 356] (1982)
  • [2011-09-28 12:56]

Hello Denis,
very beautiful image with excellent POV, splendid natural colors, great sharpness and lighting. Well done!
Thanks for sharing

Hello Denis,nice shot of the chipmunk in its environment.

Hallo Denis,
a very beautiful capture, marvellous colours, excellent point of view and nice composition with a lovely posture of this cute animal
Have a good weekend

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