Lodgepole Chipmunk

Scientific Name:

Tamius Speciosus

Type:

Mammal

Habitat:

Open-canopy, subalpine forests between 5,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level

Range:

Primarily in California, including the Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe regions

Status:

No listed status

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Lodgepole chipmunks are one of 25 species of chipmunks living around the world! Lodgepoles are brightly-colored, medium-sized chipmunks that are best distinguished by the prominent brown, black, and white stripes on their face and back. These little mammals typically only weigh a couple ounces and live up to a few years old. They are considered omnivorous, eating a variety of seeds, nuts, berries and insects. As foragers, they’ll really eat just about anything accessible on the ground -- even trash. However, they are also prey for numerous predators, like coyotes, foxes, hawks, and bobcats. As tiny tree climbers, deep hole diggers and excellent swimmers, these chipmunks can thrive in various habitats (mountains, high deserts, forests) without too many problems. During the summer and fall, lodgepole chipmunks focus on gathering and storing food. During the winter months, usually until late March, they hibernate.

Fast Facts:

  • Lodgepole chipmunks are known to be food “robbers,” stealing food they find from bird nests and other areas to then cache for their own future use.

  • Some chipmunks consume certain kinds of truffles (fungi) which are essential in helping keep an ecosystem healthy and growing. By eating truffles, the chipmunks carry fungal spores to help grow new truffles in other areas. These truffles are known for increasing water and nutrient uptake in the forests.

  • Lodgepoles are both helpful and potentially harmful to humans. The good news, chipmunks help keep certain pests under control that could otherwise harm plants and other organisms. The bad news, these chipmunks also have been known to carry the plague!

  • Chipmunks are known to be rather vocal, making noises and chippers in order to communicate. Lodgepoles are typically less vocal, rather shy, and are seldom seen or heard.

  • Lodgepoles are very vulnerable to climate change -- as temperatures increase, these chipmunks are being forced to go to higher elevations for the cooler environment. Scientists are worried that limiting their habitats to smaller windows on the mountains will cause threats to their long-term survival.

  • A species of chipmunk called the Tahoe Chipmunk (Eutamius s. frater) is not common to the Tahoe area, but rather is very common to Yosemite National Park. This species is known for climbing particularly high in the trees!

  • “Wadda-e-gopa” is the Paiute name meaning “chipmunk tongue,” but is actually used to reference a couple plants in the Northern Nevada region.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Taylor Gardner (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

June 23, 2021, 10:51:57 PM