Friday, October 3, 2014

Least Chipmunk

On 16 July 2014, Erika and I drove across South Dakota. Along the way, we drove through the Badlands National Park and stopped at Roughlock Falls in the Black Hills. We added a new mammal to our photography collection—a Least Chipmunk. At first I thought the first chipmunk, from the Badlands, and the second one, from the Black Hills, might be different species. This rodent turns out to be quite variable, with pale individuals found in arid habitats and more richly colored, tawny ones in moister areas (Higgins et al. 2002).

As the name implies, the Least is the smallest of the chipmunks. It has, however, the widest range of any chipmunk—found in western North America from the Yukon south to Arizona and New Mexico. Least Chipmunks occur at many elevations and consume a wide variety of vegetation and insects. They are not true hibernators and, in the winter, move about in their burrows where they consume food caches.

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