Tamias ruficaudus
(Red-tailed Chipmunk)

Order: Rodentia
Order Description:Rodents
Family: Sciuridae
Family Description: Chipmunks, Marmots and Squirrels

This is a fairly large chipmunk: total length is 8 ¾ to 10 inches (223-248 mm), tail length 4 to 4 ¼ inches (101-122 mm), and they weigh about 2 1/8 ounce (60 g). They are a tawnyClick word for definition (sandy) color on their back and sides, their rump is gray, their tail is reddish above and dark reddish below. They have three median blackish stripes with brownish outer stripes on their back, and their cheeks have 2 white and 3 brown stripes.

From central Rocky Mountains in southern British Columbia and Alberta, south to northwestern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana.

Found in coniferousClick word for definition forests, including spruce/fir, cedar/hemlock, yellow pine, and (at timberline) alpine fir. Seems to prefer dense cover where range overlaps with yellow pine chipmunk. Idaho study indicated red-tailed chipmunks prefer mid-successional forests.

Not a lot is known about their feeding habits or ecology, but they probably feed on seeds, fungi, and fruits.

Like most chipmunks they are probably inactive during the coldest part of the winter, waking periodically to feed from their food cacheClick word for definition. They actively forage on the ground, but this species may climb trees more readily than other chipmunks.

Probably similar to other western chipmunks which mate in spring and, following GestationClick word for definition period of approximately 1 mo, produce a litterClick word for definition of altricialClick word for definition young.

Status: Protected nongame species

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Important State References:
Scrivner, J.H. and H.D. Smith. 1984. Relative abundance of small mammals in four successional stages of spruce-fir in Idaho. Northwest Sci. 58:171-176.

Information written by Donald Streubel,© 2000
Map image provided by
Stephen Burton,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.