Chipmunks are small, burrowing rodents which belong to the group of ground squirrels known as Marmots. There are 25 separate species of chipmunk, all but two of which are native to western North America. The exceptions to this are the Siberian Chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus) and the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus). The photographs on this page are all of Eastern Chipmunks, which is the only species found in the easternmost part of the United States and Canada.
Eastern Chipmunks prefer to live in deciduous forests and shrubby or rocky areas which provide good cover from their many natural predators. They are one of the species of chipmunk that digs extensive burrows, which they line with sticks, leaves and other materials for nesting and camouflage.
Chipmunks are one of a number of rodents which use cheek pouches to carry gathered food. Eastern Chipmunks store food in their burrows, and most of their activity during the spring, summer and fall is devoted to foraging for and storing grain, seeds, nuts and acorns for winter. Though they do not actually hibernate, Eastern Chipmunks do something very similar, staying entirely in their burrows and going in and out of a hibernation-like state called "torpor" throughout the winter. They do not put on fat stores for the winter, but instead rely on the food they have stored in their burrow.
Eastern Chipmunks are mostly solitary, except for mating season in the Spring. They do communicate, however, with a high, birdlike chipping noise that gives them their name. Chipmunks use this call to warn of danger, and also to defend their territory from rivals.