What’s with all the chipmunks?


Photo via flickr.com

I know I’ve already proclaimed it the year – or at least the spring – of the bumblebee and the mosquito in our beautiful part of the world, but people, what is with all the chipmunks?

Never have I seen so many of the cute little rodents running around as I have in the past month or so. It’s got so you can’t take a drive without at least two or three of them darting out in front of the car. (I’ve braked hard for several; this could get dangerous.) And they’re having a whale of a time running up and down the trees and fenceposts all over the yard at the Manse.

Is this normal for spring in Eastern Ontario? Or are the chipmunks, like the bumblebees and the mosquitoes, having a banner year?

And what – after bumblebees, mosquitoes and chipmunks – is next?

17 thoughts on “What’s with all the chipmunks?

  1. I think that there are especially large numbers of chipmunks this year. We have noticed it here in town, as our neighbors have. Little pests!

  2. You’re right, I think I’ve seen more on the road than usual this year. Maybe during the long cold winter they snuggled more than usual. I love the way they raise their tails straight up while running. As long as I don’t try to keep tulip bulbs in my beds, chipmunks are just cute, and great entertainment for visiting children. A bag of peanuts in shells can keep kids occupied for hours!

    • Now that (peanuts for the chipmunks) is an interesting idea – something to delight Raymond’s grandson, Henry! I agree that they are so cute when they dash across the road with their tails high in the air – which would seem to not be very good for their aerodynamic properties, but perhaps that’s counteracted by the fact that it makes them more visible. Which is just as well, because their dartyness really puts them at risk if drivers aren’t careful.

    • Good to hear, John! It makes me feel a little more confident in my observations of the natural world around Queensborough when other such observers confirm that the phenomena I mention are seen elsewhere too. Because I always worry that something I think is an absolute wonder, something really out of the ordinary, is very much in the ordinary and I am just revealing myself as a total rookie at the rural life!

    • That is a very interesting question, Mark – and now that I think of it, we didn’t see chipmunks when we lived in Montreal either. A lot of grey squirrels, but no chipmunks. Hmmm…

      • Well Katherine, there’s only so much room for vermin with stripes on their back. Pa-dum-bum !! But seriously, one individual answered this very question by saying: “they tend to be far more ground-dwelling than their larger, arboreal relatives…In winter, particularly, chipmunks tend to be more confined to a nest site (on the ground), whereas tree squirrels will maintain a nest off the ground or in someone’s attic, which likely provides a better refuge.”

  3. Checking in from Toronto here (missing Gilmour, Steenburg, St Ola and Madoc terribly), and can attest to much chipmunk activity in my backyard. They appear quite willing to share their territory with birds and grey (black) squirrels as long as they’re allowed to do so in peace. But if a squirrel or a larger bird horns in, well just watch it! Around here they’re still pretty shy, hiding in abandoned downspouts and racing down little holes dug at edges and behind smaller structures, but I’ll confirm that they love their peanuts and will learn to take them from the hand of a human. There’s nothing better than watching a chippy fill his cheeks with peanuts. They’re happy little things, and I’ve never (even in Central Hastings) found them to be pests.

    I have just found your blog and I’m looking forward to looking back into it and following its future. It’s nice work, Katherine.

    • Why thank you so much, Russ! It’s wonderful to hear from another person with north-of-seven (in your case, even further north) roots! Ah yes, I remember swimming in beautiful Steenburg Lake during a school picnic once a long, long time ago – a beautiful spot. Do you still come out here sometimes? And hey, thank you too for the update on the chipmunk activity in your part of the city. Keep us posted!

  4. I only posted part of the quote given above. This person went on to say that the urban, concrete, manicured world was not a very suitable one for the chipmunk, especially since he was more of a ground dweller compared to the squirrel. For the chipmunk, there’s a greater loss of habitat within the confines of a city. I have no idea if this is true or not. What I do know is that you almost never see a chipmunk in the older parts of Toronto. I’m always surprised when I get out of the city and see a chipmunk.

  5. When dealing with a very easily distracted individual, in popular culture, an observer will often invoke the word “squirrel!” to explain/describe the change in attention. In Queensborough, we can use “chipmunk!” instead

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