Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: Carnivorous Chipmunks? (for the Week of June 7, 2009)

June 7, 2009

Q. Dear Twig: Do chipmunks eat meat?

 

A. Yes. Sometimes. If by "meat" you mean parts of animals and by "animals" you mean them in general, including invertebrates.

One study called "Food Habits of Chipmunks" found parts of birds, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars in the stomachs of the chipmunks it studied.

Another study called "Chipmunk Feeding Ecology" mentions ants, flies, frogs, moths, mice, bird eggs, crickets, salamanders and even other chipmunks in the diets of chipmunks too.

Both said chipmunks tend to eat more animal stuff in the summer. That is, they tend to eat what's present the most: seeds, roots and flowers in spring; mushrooms and invertebrates in summer; nuts in fall.

"Some animal matter is eaten," a third study notes in munklusion, "but seeds, nuts and fruit are (a chipmunk's) principal food."

Meatily,

Twig

P.S. Out West, a study found that chipmunks are "important predators" of the rosy finch, a bird.

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Notes:

The rosy-finch study took place in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

The first two studies mentioned were done in Minnesota in 1941 and Ohio in 1978, in that order.

A book you might have read called Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane has a part in it where the chipmunk, the one who lives on Hollow Tree Lane, eats a worm (raw, not fried).

A Web site on birds (to be exact, about birds in Ohio, where I live) (to be exact, about birds that people see in Ohio and where and when they see them) (I check it out to stay alert to birds that might try to eat me) had a report a few weeks ago where someone saw a chipmunk catch a goldfinch and eat it.

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About This:

"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick" is a weekly feature for children (ages 9+; 4th grade reading level) about science, nature, farming and the environment. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

Brought to you by your scientific friends at The Ohio State University — specifically, at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) (http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu) and with Ohio State University Extension (http://extension.osu.edu). OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Written by Kurt Knebusch of OARDC and OSU Extension. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt at CommTech, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691; knebusch.1@osu.edu; (330) 263-3776.

Shameless sales pitch: Buy (or not) Twig's books at http://estore.osu-extension.org/ (enter "twig walkingstick" in the search box), including his latest, Beware the Flying Steamer Duck! Birds and What They Doo, and his previousest, Hairy Blenny and the Monkeyface Prickleback: Freshwater Life and a Bit 'o Salt — the latter the winner, believe it or not, of a 2008 gold award for writing and the 2008 outstanding professional skill award for writing from the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, yeah, we know, go figure. Also available, his firstest (now back in print): Purple and Green and Stinky in Spring (bugs, plants, wildlife, farming).

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch