This interesting little inhabitant of North America's eastern forests and fence rows can be quite endearing to humans; if unmolested, the eastern chipmunk soon becomes bold enough to accept food held out to it, much of which is hoarded for the future.
Chipmunks eat a wide variety of seeds, fruits and nuts. They are particularly fond of corn and sunflower seeds. In the autumn they may store as much as 7 litres (2 gal.) of food for winter use. In recognition of this practice, the Greek word for 'steward', which is Tamias, was chosen for part of the scientific name of the species. Chipmunks have special, expandable pouches in their cheeks that they can stuff with food in order to carry it back to the larder. Each pouch can hold up to 33 kernels of dried corn.
Chipmunks construct extensive burrow systems, often more than 3.5 m (11.5 ft.) in length and with one or more well-concealed entrances. In addition to the main chamber, storage tunnels are constructed to accommodate the winter food supply. The sleeping quarters are kept scrupulously clean—shells, husks and feces are stuffed away into refuse tunnels.
Chipmunks retire to their burrows during winter. They become torpid for varying periods but are not considered true hibernators, often waking up to eat and move around below ground.