Fun Red-tailed Chipmunk Facts For Kids

Sonali Rawat
May 09, 2023 By Sonali Rawat
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Discover interesting red-tailed chipmunk facts including their distribution, habitat, and food habits.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.0 Min

The red-tailed chipmunk (Tamias ruficaudus) is from the rodent family and is a common species found in the states of the U.S. and Canada. Their distribution is varied but they are very common in British Columbia, northern Idaho, western Montana, Washington, and Alberta.

Red-tailed chipmunks go in search of food during the day and are also known to store food for winter. This species of chipmunks mainly feed on plant leaves, fruits, and seeds of various trees.

The breeding season of the Tamias ruficaudus species takes place in spring and summer. These mammals give birth to a litter of three to eight young ones and have a gestation period of 28 to 36 days.

This species of chipmunk is easy to train and often used in laboratories for experimentation. Red-tailed chipmunks are abundant in most areas and have the conservation status of Least Concern. This species can be a nuisance to agricultural lands and may destroy fruit trees or young forest plantings.

If you liked reading about red-tailed chipmunks, you can also read about the agouti and the water vole.

Red-Tailed Chipmunk Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a red-tailed chipmunk?

Red-tailed chipmunks are rodents, most commonly found in the United States and Canada. They belong to the kingdom of Animalia and have the scientific name of Tamias ruficaudus.

What class of animal does a red-tailed chipmunk belong to?

Red-tailed chipmunks belong to the class of mammals from the Tamias genus of the Sciuridae family and the kingdom of Animalia.

How many red-tailed chipmunks are there in the world?

There are no estimated numbers of the red-tailed chipmunk population. They are considered to be abundant in western North America and their conservation status is listed as Least Concern. This suggests that the population of the Tamias ruficaudus species is fairly stable.

Where does a red-tailed chipmunk live?

Red-tailed chipmunks are common in the forests of the United States and Canada. This species is found in the East Kootenay Valley, the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta, Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. They live in burrows and the area around them is defended.

What is a red-tailed chipmunk's habitat?

The habitat of red-tailed chipmunks mainly includes dense, coniferous forests where shrub growth is dense like forest openings and edges. The Tamias ruficaudus has habitat preferences that range from meadows, mountains range, and older roadways, to the lower edge of foothills.

Red-tailed chipmunks will live in a burrow but they can also climb up trees when threatened. Old logs, crevices between rocks, and their burrows are common living choices. The Tamias ruficaudus species is especially common in northern Idaho and western Montana.

Who do red-tailed chipmunks live with?

Red-tailed chipmunks usually prefer staying alone, especially when looking for food. These species tend to interact only during breeding season which will range from late spring to summer. After mating, the Tamias ruficaudus may live with their family until the young ones are grown up.

How long does a red-tailed chipmunk live?

The average lifespan of the red-tailed chipmunk will range from six to eight years in the wild. Not much information is documented about the lifespan of Tamias ruficaudus in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of the red-tailed chipmunk falls between late spring and summer. Unless a litter is lost, red-tailed chipmunks will only breed once a year.

The gestation period of Tamias ruficaudus after mating will range from 28 to 36 days. A female will give birth to a litter of two to eight babies which can reach sexual maturity within the year.

Females older than 10 to 16 months of age have more chances of becoming pregnant. A young Tamias ruficaudus will usually live with their family until it has become mature and independent.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the red-tailed chipmunk species is Least Concern. This means that the population of Tamias ruficaudus is stable and not in any urgent threat.

Red-Tailed Chipmunk Fun Facts

What do red-tailed chipmunks look like?

The red-tailed chipmunk has a larger body than most chipmunk species. Red-tailed chipmunk fur is tawny on the back and sides, their rump is gray, and their tail is reddish above and dark red below.

Red-tailed chipmunk cheeks have two white stripes, three brown stripes, and three black stripes on the back. In winter, the color of a Tamias ruficaudus can become more gray and less tawny.

A red-tailed chipmunk on a rock.

How cute are they?

The red-tailed chipmunk species is very cute and looks a little bit shy if you ever come across it. They are quick, agile, and completely harmless to humans. You can find a Tamias ruficaudus family very easily in British Columbia and Montana.

How do they communicate?

Red-tailed chipmunks can communicate using scent glands and chemicals in their bodies. This species can also use body language to communicate and will often sniff each other's cheek and neck during mating. This species can also smell the rear of another Tamias ruficaudus to obtain information through its anal scent glands.

How big is a red-tailed chipmunk?

The average length of an adult red-tailed chipmunk will range from 8.7-10 in (22.3-24.8 cm) which includes a tail of 4-4.8 in (10.1-12.2 cm). They can be twice the size of an average chestnut sparrow.

How fast can a red-tailed chipmunk move?

There are no studies that estimate the speed of the red-tailed chipmunk species.

How much does a red-tailed chipmunk weigh?

The average weight of a red-tailed chipmunk will range from 2.11-2.64 oz (60-75 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no names for an adult male red-tailed chipmunk male and an adult female red-tailed chipmunk.

What would you call a baby red-tailed chipmunk?

A baby red-tailed chipmunk is called a pup and a group from the same mother is called a litter.

What do they eat?

Red-tailed chipmunks are herbivores and they mainly feed on flower leaves, tree seeds, fruits, and grass. Their favorite plant species include wild rose, pine, serviceberry, whortleberry, knotweed, huckleberry, and maple.

They can drink water from fountains and rivers. Tamias ruficaudus can also eat oyster plants, lilies, herbs, buckbrush, and tarweed. Red-tailed chipmunks can become torpid in winter and will collect food to eat throughout the winter season.

They are known to search 1.7-2.3 in (45-60 mm) distance for food within three to four minutes. The main predators of this species include hawks, bobcats, snakes, owls, coyotes, and raccoons.

Are they poisonous?

The red-tailed chipmunk species is not poisonous. These chipmunks are herbivores and tend to avoid contact with most humans or animals. Tamias ruficaudus is useful to scientists in a laboratory as they are easy to train. They may be friendly but can carry diseases.

Would they make a good pet?

A red-tailed chipmunk (Tamias ruficaudus) is timid and will not make a good pet as they are not comfortable with humans. This species is also not easily found in households or residential gardens.

You may keep seeds to lure this chipmunk to your gardens but it is not a good idea to keep them in cages. You can find Tamias ruficaudus mostly commonly in Washington, Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia.

Did you know...

Red-tailed chipmunks are often seen rolling around in the sand and can even be half-buried. This is a method used to clean out their fur.

What is a female red-tailed chipmunk called?

There is no name for a female red-tailed chipmunk.

How active are they?

Tamias ruficaudus is very active, and agile and can move a lot in search of food. From May to October, the maximum distance an adult male red-tailed chipmunk is estimated to be around 384 ft (117 m) while juveniles will cover 232 ft (70.7 m).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including porcupines and muskrats.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our red-tailed chipmunk coloring pages.

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Written by Sonali Rawat

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali Rawat picture

Sonali RawatBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature, Masters of Art specializing in English and Communication Skills

Sonali has a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and is currently pursuing a Master's in English and Communication from Christ University. With considerable experience in writing about lifestyle topics, including travel and health, she has a passion for Japanese culture, especially fashion, and anime, and has written on the subject before. Sonali has event managed a creative-writing festival and coordinated a student magazine at her university. Her favorite authors are Toni Morrison and Anita Desai.

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