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Chipmunks are found almost everywhere there are woods or scrub brush lands. Although more common in forests than outside them, these flashy little ground squirrels still occasionally make their homes in yards, where they're usually seen in stone walls, under walkways or patios, or in gardens.
Chipmunks are members of the same family of animals as the larger tree squirrels. There is one species of eastern chipmunk. The eastern chipmunk is found throughout much of the eastern United States to the Mississippi.
The eastern chipmunk is larger than most of the western species, reaching 10 inches and weighing a mighty 2–4 ounces. They favor deciduous forests with plenty of beech and oak trees, and may be seen most often around the edges of woods where they can forage into surrounding habitat in order to add to their larder.
Chipmunks also readily adapt to suburban yards and gardens and often dig burrows around rocks, woodpiles, retaining walls, and fallen logs. While they're expert climbers, they spend much of their time foraging along the ground—preferably close to their burrows, should a quick escape be necessary. Their vocalizations range from high-pitched whistles and chips to lower "chuck" sounds.
Chipmunks depend primarily on plants for food concentrating on seeds, berries, acorns, and other nuts. They'll also occasionally eat insects, small amphibians, and, rarely, birds. Like squirrels, they forage most intensely in the fall as they gather food to store and eat over the winter. Transporting food is facilitated by expandable cheek pouches, into which quite a lot of material can be crammed as anyone who watches these animals for long can attest.
Eastern chipmunks mate in early spring and again in early summer to produce two litters, each of four to five young, but western chipmunks breed only once a year. The young emerge from the burrow after about six weeks and strike out on their own within the next two weeks.
Chipmunks don't usually cause property damage, although they sometimes are blamed for injuries to ornamental plants as they harvest fruits and nuts. Like tree squirrels, chipmunks occasionally dig up and eat spring flowering bulbs. Some homeowners get annoyed when chipmunks burrow in flower beds or under sidewalks and porches.
People get fleaborne typhus from an infected flea. Most fleas defecate while biting; the feces of infected fleas contain the bacteria that cause the disease. The bacteria enter the body at the time of the bite wound or from scratching of the bite area. It is possible to get typhus by inhaling contaminated, dried flea feces. However, this method of transmission is not as common as transmission from a biting flea.