The chipmunk's home is an underground burrow. The burrow provides protection from the cold and also from the heat on hot summer days. It provides protection from enemies and it is also used to store nuts for the winter.
The chipmunk starts the burrow by digging a hole a couple feet deep. The chipmunk then digs a chamber about 6 inches high and about 12 inches in diameter.
The bottom of the chamber is lined with shredded materials like leaves and grasses. This main area is used for hibernating, resting, giving birth and also food storage. Additional rooms are sometimes built to store food.
When digging a tunnel, the chipmunk uses its teeth to cut roots from trees and shrubs. It uses its front and rear feet to push the dirt behind its body.
It then turns around and pushes the dirt out, using its head and nose like a bulldozer. The first tunnel is called a working tunnel because it is not the main entrance.
The chipmunk doesn't want its main entrance to be surrounded by dirt and debris. This would make it easy for its enemies to find its home. In order to keep the main entrance free of dirt, the chipmunk builds a tunnel from the inside of the chamber.
This tunnel goes to the surface of the ground. This main entrance may be seven or eight metres from the entrance to the working tunnel. The nest entrance is inconspicuously placed, generally by a log or rock and without a sign of excavated soil.
The nest tunnel leads down at a steep angle for a third of a meter or so and then levels out for two to four meters to the nest which is usually a large cavity and houses the nest proper and stored food.
Lateral burrows are made to dispose of dirt from building or re-forming the tunnels systems. The soil is widely spread on the surface of the ground and the hole is then plugged with dirt from the inside of the tunnel. The subterranean activities of the chipmunk add nutrients to the soil, as well as assisting soil aeration.
Each chipmunk's home is special. Some may have two or three chambers instead of just one. Some may have many tunnels leading up to the ground level. The chipmunk also spends time changing its burrow. It may change the main entrance from time to time and also build additional chambers for the storage of food.
The chipmunk usually has only one main entrance to its home. If it builds a new entrance, the old one is blocked with dirt. The chipmunk has also been known to block the main entrance at night before going to sleep. In the morning it simply removes the dirt and goes to work gathering nuts.
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