Least Chipmunk

Least chipmunks eating some seeds
Least chipmunks are a commonly seen mammal in Yellowstone National Park.

NPS

 
Black tracks of a least chipmunk
Least chipmunk track

Scientific Name

Tamius minimus

Identification

  • 7.5–8.5 inches long, 1.2 ounces.
  • Smallest member of the squirrel family; one of three chipmunk species in the park.
  • Often mistaken for golden-mantled ground squirrel; distinguished by smaller size, longer tail, and lateral stripes that extend onto the sides of the head.

Habitat

  • Prefers sagebrush valleys, shrub communities, and forest openings.
  • Eat primarily plant material, especially seeds and other fruits, but will also eat conifer seeds and some insects.
  • Preyed on by various hawks, grizzly bears, and probably foxes and coyotes.

Behavior

  • In Yellowstone, this species hibernates but also stores some food and probably arouses frequently during the winter.
  • Breeding begins as snowmelt occurs, usually late March until mid-May; one litter of 5–6 young per year.
  • Little is known about their vocalizations but they do have “chipping” (which may be an alarm) and “clucking” calls.
  • Can be identified by quick darting movements and it seems to carry its tail vertically when moving.
 
A wolf standing on a snowy bank near brown grass howls

Mammals

Home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states.

Last updated: July 11, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

Contact Us