Tamias merriami

Merriam's Chipmunk

Merriam's Chipmunk

Distribution, Abundance, and Seasonality

Permanent, locally common resident of chaparral, hardwood, and coniferous habitats that support substantial brush understory. Occurs below 2700 m (8900 ft) in the South Coast, Transverse, Peninsular, and southern Sierra Nevada Ranges.

Merriam's Chipmunk Range Map
Range Map

Specific Habitat Requirements

Feeding: Merriam's chipmunks are herbivorous. They eat acorns, and other seeds and nuts of conifers, manzanita, juniper, and various chaparral species. They search for, and gather, food on the ground, in shrubs, and on stumps, logs, and snags. They may cache food for later use.

Cover: Prefer heavy brush with associated oaks and rock outcrops as well as logs, stumps, snags, rocks, and litter. Burrows also provide cover.

Reproduction: Nests are built in logs, stumps, snags, and in burrows.

Water: Will drink water when it is available (Miller and Stebbins 1964).

Pattern: Heavy brush associated with oaks, rock outcrops, logs, stumps, snags, and litter required by Merriam's chipmunks.

Species Life History

Activity Patterns: Diurnal activity; hibernate in winter.

Seasonal Movements / Migration: Non-migratory.

Home Range: No data found.

Territory: Solitary; probably defend immediate vicinity of burrow.

Reproduction: Merriam's chipmunks breed from mid-January through June, with peak activity in April. Gestation period about 30 days. Litter size averages 4; range 3-8 (Miller and Stebbins 1964). Females produce 1 litter per yr. Individuals are sexually mature within first yr.

Niche: Potential predators include long-tailed weasels, bobcats, coyotes, domestic cats, and various hawks and owls. Merriam's chipmunks occupy the lowest altitudinal zone of any chipmunk on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Potential competition for food may occur with black bears, mule deer, wild pigs, and several species of deer mice, kangaroo rats, and woodrats.

Sources & References

California Department of Fish and Game, 1999.
California's Wildlife, Sacramento, CA.
Written by: T. Harvey, C. Polite, reviewed by: M. White, edited by: M. White

Grinnell, J., and T. I. Storer. 1924. Animal Life in the Yosemite. Univ. California Press, Berkeley. 752pp. Johnson, D. H. 1943. Systematic Review of the Chipmunks (genus Eutamias) of California. Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. 48:63-143. Miller, A. H., and R. C. Stebbins. 1964. The Lives of Desert Animals in Joshua Tree National Monument. Univ. California Press, Berkeley. 452pp.

California Animal Facts  |  California's Wildlife