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Cheeky Chipmunk

When this pet chipmunk spots his human opening some nuts, he can't contain his excitement. So imagine his annoyance when he discovers the plastic covering that just keeps getting in his way!

Chipmunks are as cute as can be, with their enchanting eyes, bushy tails, striped backs, and chubby cheeks. You may have seen these tiny rodents darting around your yard or nearby woodlands. Or you may know them from Hollywood. Walt Disney introduced his animated chipmunk duo, Chip and Dale, in 1943, and 15 years later Ross Bagdasarian captured America’s heart with three chipmunk brothers — Alvin, Simon, Theodore — singing their musical hit “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late).”

Weighing in at 1 to 5 ounces (28 to 142 grams), chipmunks are among the most diminutive members of the squirrel family. That means these pocket-sized rodents are also related to woodchucks and prairie dogs, which share a branch on the squirrel family tree as well.

Chipmunks aren’t picky eaters and spend a lot of time searching for their next meal, including at bird feeders (as many annoyed homeowners can attest). These omnivores love nuts, berries, seeds, mushrooms, insects, frogs, lizards, baby birds, and bird eggs. During late summer and fall, they begin carrying extra food back to their burrow in their ample cheek pouches (which can hold a stash three times the size of their head). This foraging also benefits the larger ecosystem — chipmunks spread seeds and important mycorrhizal fungi that live around tree roots, ensuring they thrive.

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