We used to have big fat chittering chipmunks everywhere on the property. They were about the size of a small squirrel. Meanwhile, in the same woods, there is a very small version of the bigger chipmunks. Our new ones really look like “Least Chipmunks” or “Eutamias minimas.” In theory, they don’t live in New England, but I suspect they have arrived. They haven’t made it official. Yet. I remember when the Brown Recluse spiders also didn’t live here. Except they did and one of them bit Garry. Being poisonous, he needed two kinds of antibiotics and a month off his feet for the massive infection from the spider who didn’t live here. Unless you see the spider biting you, catch it, and bring it to the Department of Nasty Wild Things, it isn’t official. I don’t know which department oversees the arrival of tiny chipmunks.
A normal full-size Eastern Chipmunk — official local variety — is about half the size of a squirrel but much more talkative. An Eastern Chipmunk, from tail to nose, is about 11 inches long. These little ones are half that size (maybe less), but look (more or less) identical to their bigger cousins. Tiny things. They do not sit in our driveway and chitter at us. Everything I have read about Eastern Chipmunks assure me they are shy of people, but those Chipmunks were bold as brass. They were sure was their yard into which we were intruding.
In recent years, the chunky chipmunks have disappeared. Instead, we see these tiny ones. I suspect the arrival of bobcats, coyotes, fishers (weasels), and foxes may have been keeping their numbers down. We have a lot of predatory animals from pretty small (do I count the wolf spiders?) to “Hey, look at the size of that beak!” Eagles 🦅 have that effect on me. Even a juvenile American Eagle (Bald Eagle is the same raptor) has a beak I’m sure could remove my hand from my arm and might, in a pinch, remove my head from my body. Eagles don’t have to ask for respect. Anyone with half a brain takes a look at the talons, beak, and ten-foot wingspan and salutes.
These little chipmunks have survived the purging of their larger brethren. This tiny furry is small enough to nestle in my palm with plenty of room to spare. She (he?) manages to find her way from the woods, climb a full story up to the deck. From there, she finds her way into the feeder, loads up on seeds until her cheeks are stuffed, then does the reverse climb to either store the seeds — or maybe feed the babies?
It is breeding time, so it’s likely for the kids. They have two litters a year. The first one is now and the next is in the late summer. If there are babies, this isn’t one of them because it would still be about the size of a jelly bean tucked into the nest.