This tiny creature is the only member of the chipmunk genus to be found in places outside North America. Their natural habitat is Northern Asia, they live in forests with a bushy understory. Despite being good climbers, they prefer life on the ground.
It’s tiny in size – the body is only about 15cm long. Their appearance resembles a mix of a prairie dog and a rat, the Siberian Chipmunk has light fur with white stripes and as many other rodent, large pouches behind cheeks, to collect food.
Their long nails allow them to climb almost anything
Siberian Chipmunks are active during the day, when most of the predators are asleep. Most of the time is spent feeding off mushrooms, nuts, tree buds, vegetables and other things. No true defense against predators make them a very susceptible prey for birds, snakes and other predators.
These chipmunks also build burrows, just like other members of the genus. There they spend their night, out of the reach of most predators and it also serves as a storing place for food. These homes protect them from birds and most mammal predators, but snakes can still sneak into the burrow in the night.
Siberian Chipmunks are rather solitary creatures and each of them has individual territory and burrow. They do, however, spend the winter in pairs and when the spring comes, mating begins. After mating the Siberian Chipmunks resume their solitary lives until the next winter. Gestation usually last for around 40 days and four to ten chipmunks are born.
Siberian Chipmunks have large pockets behind their cheeks from birth
Being very low in the food chain, Siberian Chipmunk high reproduction quantities are essential for survival of the species – their maximum lifespan is about 10 years, though most of them are hunted by it’s natural predators. Humans haven’t caused any harm to the number of Siberian Chipmunks and as of now, it’s listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN Red List of endangered species.
These critters may seem harmless, but in fact they’re deceptively dangerous. They’re a potential carrier of multiple infectious diseases, such as rabies. Maximum precaution should be used when interacting with a wild Siberian Chipmunk – although they don’t pose great physical risk, one bite can infect a person with rabies.
Siberian Chipmunks are also sometimes taken as pets and their behavior in captivity is similar to that of the hamster. Their life in captivity is usually six to ten years and they tend to be more playful and active than other critter pets, and they also need more space for climbing and running. Many people see them as adorable creatures and buy them as pets for their children.