Curious, clever and attractive, the Townsend Chipmunk is popular with many hikers and campers who will encounter them darting through the underbrush or creeping around tents in search of food. A small variety of squirrel, they have a similar body type including a pointed face and bushy tail which is often held erect. Their bodies are a dark brown with sets of dark and light stripes running from the shoulders to the rump. Similar markings run across the face from the nose, through the eye and end at the base of the ear. These distinctive bands are brighter and more distinct on the inland form of the chipmunk and muted on the coastal form. They have small ears and large black eyes.
The chipmunk is an omnivore and will feed on a variety of vegetation, fungi, roots, insects and bird eggs. For a rodent they are particularly long-lived with some individuals have reportedly been over ten years old at the time of their deaths. They will mate during the spring and litters, typically of three to four pups, are born in early summer.
Birds of prey, Bobcats, Minks and Weasels are their primary predators.
The Townsend Chipmunk inhabits mostly forested and brushy areas in western Oregon and Washington, and may be abundant in areas where logging has occurred as the broken timber provides good shelter. This rodent is abundant all along the Oregon Coast and in the adjacent Coast Range Mountains. Its population density will go up in areas where there is plenty of its primary food sources, including salal, blackberry, huckleberry, and other seed-producing plants.
Photo credit: USFWS