least chipmunk

(Neotamias minimus)

Conservation Status
least chipmunk
Photo by Ramona Abrego
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Least chipmunk is the most widespread and also the smallest of the North American chipmunks. In Canada it occurs from Ontario to Yukon Territory. In the United States it occurs west of the Great Plains and in the upper Great Lakes region. In Minnesota it occurs in the Arrowhead and north-central regions and is absent from the remainder of the state. There are 21 subspecies of least chipmunk. Only one, Neotamias minimus neglectus, occurs in Minnesota. It is found at the edges and in the openings, clearcuts, and disturbed areas of coniferous and mixed forests.

The adult is 7¼ to 8¾ (185 to 222 mm) long and weighs 1.48 to 1.87 ounces (42 to 53 grams). It weighs about half as much as an eastern chipmunk. The coat (pelage) on the sides is reddish-brown in the front, grayish brown in the rear. The rump is grayish-brown. The belly is grayish-white. There are five dark brown or black stripes on the back separated by white or cream-colored stripes. The middle stripe stretches from the nape of the neck to the base of the tail. On each side of the face there are three dark brown stripes separated by two white or cream-colored stripes. The facial stripes are well defined and highly visible. The tail is 3 to 4½ (76 to 114 mm) long, orangish-brown, and bushy.




Total length: 7¼ to 8¾ (185 to 222 mm)

Head and body: 3 to 4½ (93 to 114 mm)

Tail: 3 to 4½ (76 to 114 mm)






Similar Species


Edges, openings, clearcuts, and disturbed areas within coniferous and mixed forests




When running it holds its tail erect.




10 years


Life Cycle


Least chipmunk nests under stumps, logs, and rocks. It winters in a burrow it digs that reaches up to one meter underground.




Seeds, nuts, fruits, acorns, snails, insect eggs and larvae, and small birds and mammals


Distribution Map



4, 24, 29, 30, 76.





  Class Mammalia (mammals)  
  Subclass Theria  
  Infraclass Eutheria (placental mammals)  
  Magnorder Boreoeutheria  
  Superorder Euarchontoglires (primates, rodents, and allies)  
  Grandorder Glires (rodents and rabbits)  
  Order Rodentiia (rodents)  
  Suborder Sciuromorpha (squirrels)  


Sciuridae (chipmunks, marmots, squirrels)  


Xerinae (ground and African tree squirrels)  
  Tribe Marmotini (holarctic ground squirrels and chipmunks)  
  Genus Neotamias (western chipmunks)  

All chipmunks were previously placed in the tribe Marmotini. In 1963 they were placed in the new tribe Tamiini. In 1984 Tamiini was submerged back into Marmotini with the holarctic ground squirrels. Today almost all sources place the chipmunks, whether one genus or three, in the tribe Marmotini. iNaturalist appears to be the lone exception, placing all chipmunks in their own tribe Tamiini.

Three subgenera were of the genus Tamias were previously recognized: Neotamias, Tamias, and Eutamias. A recent analysis (DeGruyter, 2015) showed an earlier evolutionary divergence of Neotamias from Tamias and Eutamias. The three subgenera were raised to genus level. Eutamias now contains a single living species, the Siberian chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus). Noetamias now contains 23 species, mostly occurring in western North America. Tamias now contains just a single living species, the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus). Some sources, including ITIS, NCBI, The Taxonomicon, and Mammal Species of the World, continue to place all chipmunks in a subgenus of the genus Tamias.


Subordinate Taxa


Chuska Mountain chipmunk (Neotamias minimus chuskaensis)

flathead least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus oreocetes)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus arizonensis)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus borealis)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus cacodemus)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus caniceps)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus caryi)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus confinis)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus consobrinus)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus grisescens)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus hudsonius)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus jacksoni)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus minimus)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus neglectus)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus operarius)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus pallidus)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus pictus)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus scrutator)

least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus silvaticus)

Peñasco least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus atristriatus)

Selkirk least chipmunk (Neotamias minimus selkirki)




Eutamias minimus

Tamias minimus


Common Names


least chipmunk











The coat of a mammal, consisting of fur, wool, or hair, and including a soft undercoat and stiff guard hairs.

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Ramona Abrego

    least chipmunk   least chipmunk  
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- western chipmunk, Neotamias minimus, least chipmunk, tamia mineur, tamia minore, chipmunk nano, wangzakeekhoorn, aardeekhoorn, eekhoornmarmot, chipmunk

Least chipmunks are the smallest of all chipmunks. It is the most widespread species of chipmunk in North America. The least chipmunk is found in a variety of habitats and is active during the day . Chipmunks feed on seeds, berries, nuts, fruits and insects. They store food in an underground burrow, where they spend the winter. These animals go into a state of torpor for extended periods of time, but do not hibernate. They breed in early spring. Females produce one litter usually of 5 or 6 young.

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  Ramona Abrego

Location: Cook County Gunflint Trail

least chipmunk

  Ramona Abrego

Location: Cook County

least chipmunk

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Created: 7/8/2020

Last Updated:

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