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Learn more about the chipmunks in your yard

They are quick, loud at times and can be destructive, but they are also very cute and entertaining to observe. Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) seem to be everywhere in our yards and gardens, yet many of us know very little about their habits.

Breeding takes place twice per year, in spring and late summer. After a gestation of approximately 31 days, two to five young are born and stay safe in their burrow for two months, and are mature by one year. Their territory is about 50 feet around their burrow entrance.

About 2 inches in diameter, burrows are well hidden because these mammals carry the soil they dig in their cheek pouches and carry it away. Main tunnels can be 20-30 feet long, with more than one entrance or exit for safety.

These inground burrows have extensive tunnels, both shallow and deep, with the main tunnel chambers used for catching food, birthing and feeding their young, as well as sleeping.

Living about three years in the wild, chipmunks are omnivorous, eating a varied diet of seeds, acorns, nuts, earthworms, insects and even bird eggs.

Chipmunks are inactive in their winter burrows but will emerge on sunny, warm winter days under your bird feeders for a snack of seeds to eat and bring to burrows.

There are various things you can do in your garden to decrease the number of chipmunks. Remove bird feeders in the summer. Tulips are a favorite, but daffodils and crocuses are not high on their menu. If you prefer tulips, bulbs can be enclosed in quarter-inch hardware-cloth that they cannot penetrate. This hardware-cloth can also be used in gardens successfully. Exclusion methods such as caulking openings around your home will deter them. Trapping is another possibility but is not recommended as relocating them limits their survival. Poison should never be used as it may kill other wildlife.

Learn about chipmunks and more at http://go.osu.edu/chipmunk.

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