Small Mammals: Squirrels and Chipmunks

Twenty four species of squirrels and chipmunks occupy the Pacific Northwest. Both squirrels and chipmunks are in the order Rodentia, hibernate, are omnivorous, have internal cheek pouches in which they carry food, and are diurnal. Squirrels store body fat for winter dormancy periods, and chipmunks cache food reserves for the winter.

The following squirrels and chipmunks are found in Central Oregon:

Allen's ChipmunkBelding's Ground Squirrel California Ground SquirrelDouglas' Squirrel (Chickaree) Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel Least ChipmunkNorthern Flying SquirrelSiskiyou ChipmunkTownsend's ChipmunkTownsend's Ground SquirrelYellow Pine ChipmunkWestern Gray Squirrel

Allen's Chipmunk (Tamias senex)

  • RANGE: Southern British Columbia, through Oregon and Washington into Yosemite National Park
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Resides in coniferous forests, often times seen climbing tall trees or crawling about in thick, dense patches of under brush preferably near riparian areas.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Fairly dense coniferous forests, with shrubby moist areas interspersed throughout the landscape.
  • BREEDING: A single litter of four is born in the spring, usually in May, but will remain underground until July
  • FOOD: A seasonal diet which consists of beetles, fungi, huckleberries, nuts, grasses, chinquapins, acorns seeds of conifers, small animal life, tubers, bitter cherry, currant, manzanita berries, strawberries, thimble berries, and roots.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Along the east side of the Cascade range Allen's chipmunk may be found from the Ollalie lake area south to Lake county, and as far east as Deschutes, and Jefferson counties.
  • REFERENCES: Cstui et.al. 2001, Carraway et al, Ingles et al

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Belding's Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus beldingi)

  • RANGE: Eastern Oregon and California, southern Idaho and central Nevada.
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Meadows, sagebrush flats, hay-crop meadows, edges of fields, near green vegetation. Vegetation typical of the habitat that Belding's ground squirrel occupies consists of Juniper, sagebrush, rabbit-brush, giant wildrye, cheat grass, and Idaho fescue.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Belding's ground squirrel require habitat free from spring flooding.
  • BREEDING: Breeding occurs right after hibernation, a single litter of 6-8 young are born.
  • FOOD: Green vegetation.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs throughout central Oregon
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952, Cstui et.al.

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California Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus beecheyi)

  • RANGE: California north into western Oregon and south into Baja.
  • STATUS: No state or federal protection
  • HABITAT: Extremely generalized in terms of habitat choice, habitat edge, and south verses north facing burrows seemed to be the number one influence in burrow site selection. Generally pastures, grain fields, open forested slopes, and rocky ridges are the types of habitat most often associated with California ground squirrel.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Deep non-compacted soil for digging burrows, and southfacing slopes for burrow placement.
  • BREEDING: Average litter is 7; born throughout spring, summer and fall.
  • FOOD: Green vegetation, fruits, seeds, acorns, mushrooms, birds, eggs, and insects.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs throughout central Oregon
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952. Cstui et.al.

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Douglas' Squirrel (Chickaree) (Tamiasciurus douglasi)

  • RANGE: Pacific northwest.
  • STATUS: No state or federal protection
  • HABITAT: Coniferous forest.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tree cavities or sheltered branches for nesting.
  • BREEDING: Litter of 4-8 born in June and October.
  • FOOD: Conifer seeds, often times they will cache large amounts of the conifer seeds in the same location generation after generation year after year until a large mound builds up, nuts, eggs, fungi.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs in mountainous areas in central Oregon
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952. Cstui et.al.

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Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis)

  • RANGE: Mountainous areas of western states.
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Forested area with an abundance of down logs, and stumps which provide prime nesting habitat. Commonly seen in campground and parks taking handouts from visitors, this ground squirrel may become quite tame. Also found in chaparral, open pine, fir, and spruce forests to above timberline.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Golden-mantled ground squirrel requires nesting and hiding cover provided by down woody material and stumps.
  • BREEDING: Litter of 2-8 born in early spring.
  • FOOD: Conifer seeds, fungi, fruits, insects, eggs, and meat.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Common in central Oregon in habitats with open timber, down logs and stumps. The golden-mantled ground squirrel is often times confused with a chipmunk.
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952. Cstui et.al.

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Least Chipmunk (Eutamias minimus)

  • RANGE: Across much of Canada south into western States.
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Low sagebrush forest, high mountain conifer forests, northern mixed-hardwood forests, has even been seen in alpine tundra.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Burrows beneath stumps, logs and rocks.
  • BREEDING: Litter of 2-6; possibly two litters/year.
  • FOOD: Vegetation, seeds, nuts, fruits, also insects and meat, conifer seeds are a preferred food choice
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs in all central Oregon counties, except Wasco county
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952. Cstui et.al

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Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus)

  • RANGE: Across Alaska and Canada into northeastern and northwestern U.S.
  • STATUS: No state or federal protection for this species
  • HABITAT: Coniferous and mixed forests.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tree cavities for nesting, if a tree cavity can not be found a simple round nest of moss, lichen, and shredded bark is formed by tree limbs.
  • BREEDING: Litter of 2-5 born in May - June.
  • FOOD: Fungi, lichen, bark, insects, eggs, during the summer months in Oregon, this species has been found to feed almost exclusively on underground fungi.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs in all central Oregon counties except Crook county.
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952, Kritzman 1977 Cstui et.al.

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Siskiyou Chipmunk (Tamias siskiyou)

  • RANGE: Southern British Columbia, through Oregon and Washington into Yosemite National Park
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Resides in coniferous forests, frequents riparian areas.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Coniferous forests
  • BREEDING: A single litter of four is born in the spring, usually in May, but will remain underground until July
  • FOOD: Seasonal diet consists primarily of beetles, fungi, huckleberries, nuts, grasses, and roots.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Found in Klamath county and southern Deschutes county
  • REFERENCES: Cstui et.al. 2001

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Townsend's Chipmunk (Tamias townsendii)

  • RANGE: Throughout all of the Pacific northwest.
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Coniferous forest, riparian areas, and adjacent chaparral.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dense coniferous forests with decaying downed logs, snags and riparian areas. In drier areas of central Oregon riparian areas are of special importance
  • BREEDING: Litter of 3-6 born in May.
  • FOOD: Seeds, nuts, berries, roots, bulbs, flowers, fungi, insects.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs in Klamath, Deschutes, Jefferson, and Wasco counties
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952, Kritzman 1977.

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Townsend's Ground Squirrel (Citellus townsendi)

  • RANGE: Eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, Nevada, and western Utah.
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Dry soil; sagebrush and grassland.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: A thick shrubby understory for hiding cover and foraging about for food.
  • BREEDING: Litter 5-10 born in March.
  • FOOD: Nuts, acorns, seeds, berries, fungi, grasses, and grains.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs throughout central Oregon
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952 Verts et al

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Yellow Pine Chipmunk (Eutamias amoenus)

  • RANGE: Northwestern states and southern British Columbia.
  • STATUS: Not a protected species
  • HABITAT: Open coniferous forest, chaparral, rocky areas with brush and scattered pines; burned areas with stumps and brush.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Downed logs and stumps for hiding cover and gleaning insects from within the rotting wood and bark crevices.
  • BREEDING: Litter of 5-7 born in May.
  • FOOD: Vegetation, seeds, and various insects.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: Occurs in forested areas throughout central Oregon
  • REFERENCES: Burt 1952 Cstui et al , Verts et al

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Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus)

  • RANGE: Found from central Washington south through western Oregon into California, occurs on the east side of the Sierra and the Cascade mountains as well.
  • STATUS: Sensitive species in the state of Oregon
  • HABITAT: Deciduous or broadleafed woodlands dominated by oak, riparian areas, mixed forests of tanoak, maple, madrone, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, white pine or Jeffrey pine habitats.
  • SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tall trees for nesting sites. Competition with eastern fox and gray squirrels have caused the decline of the gray squirrel in Oregon.
  • BREEDING: A litter of 3-4 young are born twice yearly, usually in spring and winter.
  • FOOD: Conifer seeds, acorns, fungi, fruit, berries, insects, and some green vegetation are consumed.
  • IN CENTRAL OREGON: The western gray squirrel occurs in the western areas of central Oregon, most often associated with the Ponderosa pine forested areas.
  • REFERENCES: Ingles et al

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