Portfolio: Rutgers Preparatory Student Treehouses


The Chipmunk: A Tiny Hero

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© chipmunk1

The Eastern Chipmunk: Tamias Striatus


When most people think of, or see a chipmunk, they usually regard it as that annoying rodent that messes up the lawn by digging deep burrows. Some people remember that old cartoon, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Farmers think of them as vermin that destroy their crops and therefore should be destroyed themselves. Falcons see them as a mid-day snack. One can tell that the chipmunk is underappreciated...wich is why I dedicate this treehouse to it. GO CHIPMUNKS!  - Ashley Andem

Morning. The sun had finally awakened from its celestial slumber, and was slowly climbing its way up into the sky. As the sun lost its grogginess, the animals in the forest glade began to wake up, and started to hunt for food.  Illuminated by the green morning light, birds hopped about in the grass for worms. A young chipmunk quickly popped its head out of its burrow, waking from its first night in a burrow of its own. It wriggled out and began, like the other animals in the glade, to search for food.

The chipmunk knew that the cold season was approaching. Once it finished eating a mushroom,  it began to hoard nuts. After stuffing many acorns and seeds into its mouth, the chipmunk would rush into its burrow and place them in one of the burrow's numerous chambers.  

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© chipmunk1

It continued to carry nuts to the chamber until the sun had reached its peak in the sky. Tired, the chipmunk quickly devoured several berries, which it had found under a bush. Hungry for more berries, it began to wander slightly out of its territory.

The chipmunk found the source of its desired berries: a short, wide berry bush. Immediately it began to stuff some into its mouth. Suddenly a huge creature shot out of the other bushes: a large male chipmunk. Apparently, the little chipmunk had wandered into another territory, and the owner was quick to defend it. It let out low little growls and advanced towards the little chipmunk. The little chipmunk knew that it was smaller than this stranger, and could not fight it. Frightened, the chipmunk squeaked defensively and began to retreat. Without warning, the older chipmunk began to emit a different sound, one that was in high, short squeaks. A predator, which happened to be a large hawk, was in the area, scanning the ground for its prey.   

The large chipmunk continued to emit the high chirping sounds, and began to run around its territory. The young chipmunk, although it knew what those sounds meant, was almost paralyzed with the fear of being caught. It ran just as the hawk cried out, diving for the larger chipmunk. The large chipmunk, which was accustomed to being a target, dove swiftly into one of the entrances into its burrow. The hawk rose into the sky, this time to dive for the smaller chipmunk. It watched the little chipmunk run, and knew well the zigzag pattern it scurried in. The hawk waited for an opportunity to snatch its lunch, and descended rapidly towards the chipmunk.

The young chipmunk had never been chased before in its life. Already it was beginning to tire; fortunately, it was close to one of its burrow holes, so it struggled to run faster. It needed no more inspiration, for the hawk's steel talons just barely missed grabbing it and tearing it apart. Like the other chipmunk, it began to make warning calls as it approached its burrow, alerting its relatives that a hungry predator was in the area. The hawk dove again, but to no avail: the chipmunk, a tiny hero, had already jumped into its burrow. There was no chance of finding another chipmunk; the hawk gave up and flew elsewhere to find prey. The chipmunk, whose heart was beating so rapidly it was almost audible, would not leave its burrow until late into the afternoon.   

By the time the sun began to yawn and lazily sink beyond the horizon, the little chipmunk had gathered many various nuts and seeds to feed on. It chewed away at a large mushroom and dragged it into its burrow. Once inside, the chipmunk ate and fell asleep. This day was the first day in the real world; away from its mother, facing daily risks. There would be many more days like this to come. Every day that the chipmunk survives, it is a tiny hero.

Story Reviews

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© 2005 chipmunk1

This is a beautifully written story that gives us a brief glimpse into the daily life of a Chipmunk.

I was pulled in by the first paragraph which detailed the surroundings and I felt that I was right there. This is a sign of a true writer: when you can actually inspire the reader to want to learn more. The second sign of a true writer is to evoke emotion. I found myself worried whether or not the little fellow would actually make it to safety as he was being chased by a predator.

The drawings captured by the chipmunk in all its vulnerability, which really made me like the little fellow. Great story!!

- Vannessa B.

"After reading this story, whenever I think of or see a chipmunk I will no longer think "annoying rodent".  I am now inclined to view the chipmunk as a vulnerable, industrious little creature whose daily round is full of life or death "drama".

This young writer got and kept my attention and wrote in a way that made me care about the little rodent.  The story made me think about the cycle of life, the laws of nature and how good it is to be higher up on the food chain!  The artistic renderings of the chipmunk were endearing.

I really enjoyed the little interlude this story provided."

- Nena S, Psy.D.

Find out More!

To find out more information on chipmunks (in case you are THIRSTY for more to learn about these small little balls of intelligence) you can visit the websites shown below.

Information on the Internet


Karels, Tim. Grzmek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2004.

Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia

World Almanac Education Group, Inc. @2002

Baack, Jessica K., and Paul V. Switzer. "Alarm Calls Affect Foraging Behavior in Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias Striatus, Rodentia: Sciuridae)." Ethology December 2000: 1057-1066.

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About This Page

I'd like thank Dr. Pierce for having us do this project. I also thank every researcher and biologist who discover so much information about animals, from physical features down to behavioral patterns. Thank you to the activists that continue to struggle to keep such animals safe.

Author: chipmunk1
Classroom Project: The Amazing Eastern Chipmunk
Rutgers Preparatory School
Somerset, NJ USA

License: Tree of Life & Partners uses only - Version 1.0

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to , Rutgers Preparatory School

 Treehouses are authored by students, teachers, science enthusiasts, or professional scientists. Anyone can sign up as a treehouse contributor and share their knowledge and enthusiasm about organisms. Treehouse contributions are checked for general accuracy and quality by teachers and ToL editors, but they are not usually reviewed by expert scientists. If you spot an error, please get in touch with the author or the teacher. For more information about quality control of Tree of Life content, see Status of Tree of Life Pages.

About This Portfolio

Lisa Schwartz
University of Arizona

Rutgers Preparatory School

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Lisa Schwartz at and Valerie Pierce at

All Rights Reserved.

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