Written by Kizzie Weathers
Species: Tamias sibiricus
Palearctic: Northern Europe and Asia, including Japan
The siberian chipmunk's body length is12 to 17cm, two-thirds of its total length. Like other chipmunks, it has brightly colored fur, dark stripes, and large cheek pouches. Its ears are small and slightly rounded at the tips. The fur on the back is brown-gray to ocher yellow, depending on the origin of the animal. It has four light and five dark longitudinal stripes and a colored tail( light brown, broad black lines on both sides and narrow white edges. (Grizimek's Encyclopedia Mammals, 1990)
Siberian chipmunks are omnivorous. They feed on vegetables, conifer seeds, and nuts of dicotyledonous plants. They feed on buds of trees, shrubs, mushrooms, berries, field crops, as well as wheat, oats, and buckwheat. Chipmunks also attack insects, young birds, and lizards. (Britannica Volume 3 C&D)
The mating activity of the Siberian chipmunks starts in the second half of April, shortly after they wake up from hibernation. A litter of 4 to 6 (sometimes 3 to 7) is born near the end of May to the end of June after a gestation period that is not known precisely. The birth weight of the chipmunk is 0.13-0.14 (3.8-4 grams). In Freiburg, Germany the month of April and May are the reproductive peaks. One litter is born per year in Siberia; further south, in Freiburg, a second litter is born in the summer. (Grizimek's Encyclopedia Mammals Volume 3,1990)
Siberian chipmunks bury their food 2in (5cm) under ground. Theycleans themselves all over, starting from the back to the tail, and sometimes they groom one another. They make a number of different sounds, including a short "cheep" that sounds like a bird call and lasts for about 1/5 of a second. This call, which is produced if the chipmunk is frightened or agitated, is produced as 3 to 6 syllables repeated in a series. These chipmunks also give off a soft and deep croaking sound, perhaps related to mating behavior. Siberian chipmunks are active during the day (Grizimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Volume 3,1990).
The Siberian chipmunk is a forest animal. With needle-pointed claws, it is an excellent climber, but it lives predominantly on the ground. Siberian chipmunks live in lodges that are constructed on the ground. In northern Asia the Siberian chipmunk lives in the same habitat as the larch tree, and in Europe it inhabits regions where the Scotch pine grows.
Biomes: taiga, temperate forest & rainforest
Economic Importance for Humans
The chipmunks distribute seeds of trees and plants, and perhaps the spores of mycorrhizal fungi. They probably help in controlling the populations of harmful species of insects.
The chipmunks eat farmer's fruit, oats and corn, and they also carry fleas that sometimes are vectors for diseases such as plague.