The idea for this little guy began way back in one of my early wood carving classes in Virginia, and was spurred on by my camping travels around the country. Chipmunks always seem to be scurrying around at breakneck speed, pausing only long enough to gather food and survey their surroundings for hidden dangers. With winter just around the corner, this little fellow pauses with his newly discovered cache of acorns- just long enough to verify that the way is clear, before dashing off again.
Chipmunks are a type of ground squirrel, and the smallest members of Squirrel family. All 25 of the chipmunk species (except one in Asia) are found in North America- from Canada to Mexico, from alpine forests to shrubby deserts. Constantly on the run to find and store food for winter, they prefer deciduous forest edges which contain good cover and ample food supplies. But the chipmunk is versatile and can make do in almost all kinds of environments. Squirrels are a member of the Rodent order of mammals, and a rodent is defined by having a single pair of continuously-growing incisors (front teeth) in both the upper and lower jaws. Because they keep growing, the teeth must be kept short by gnawing and nibbling. Rodents (the squirrel family, along with mice, rats, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters) make up 40% of all mammal species.
(Rabbits, hares, and pikas are not considered to be rodents, as they have 4 teeth per jaw, one set of two directly behind the other!)