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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Red-tailed Chipmunk - Tamias ruficaudus

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status


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General Description
We do not yet have descriptive information on this species.  Please try the buttons above to search for information from other sources.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 309

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Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


Moist forest. Douglas-fir and subalpine fir. Most abundant in edge openings. Sometimes ranges into alpine except in Glacier National Park area where T. minimus occupies alpine habitats (Hoffmann and Pattie 1968, Beg 1969). Will occupy higher elevations with T. amoenus.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Primarily seeds and fruits. Leaves and flowers in spring, less so in summer. Occasionally uses arthropods. Seasonal shifts in foraging sites and consumption related to availability (Beg 1969). Hoards food.

Contiguous allopatry with other chipmunks, though some overlap occurs. Specific habitats vary. May to October average monthly maximum distance moved: 384 ft for adult males, 246 ft. for breeding adult females, 290 ft. for non-breeding adult females, 232 ft. for juveniles (Beg 1969).

Reproductive Characteristics
11.1 to 15.0% yearlings pregnant, 50 to 73% adult females pregnant each year. One litter/year, average 4.85 young/litter. Breed late April to May. Most young born in June. Lactation until mid- to late July.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Beg, M.A. 1969. Habitats, food habits, and population dynamics of the red-tailed chipmunk (Eutamias ruficaudus) in Western Montana. PhD. Dissertation University of Montana, Missoula. 153 pp.
    • Hoffmann, R.S. and D.L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. University of Montana, Missoula. 133 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • [WWPC] Washington Water Power Company. 1995. 1994 wildlife report Noxon Rapids and Cabinet Gorge Reservoirs. Washington Water Power Company. Spokane, WA.
    • Adelman, E.B. 1979. A survey of the nongame mammals in the Upper Rattlesnake Creek drainage of western Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 129 pp.
    • Beg, M.A. and R.S. Hoffmann. 1977. Age determination and variation in the red-tailed chipmunk, Eutamias ruficaudus. The Murrelet 58:26-36.
    • Best, T. L. 1993. Tamias ruficaudus. Mamm. Species 452:1-7.
    • Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammologists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 pp.
    • Halvoison, C. H. 1982. Rodent occurrence, habitat disturbance and seed fall in a larch-fir forest. Ecology 63(2):423-433.
    • Hoffmann, R.S., P.L. Wright, and F.E. Newby. 1969. Distribution of some mammals in Montana. I. Mammals other than bats. Journal of Mammalogy 50(3): 579-604.
    • Johnson, L. J. 1960. Mammal studies on the Lubrecht Forest, Montana: a preliminary report. Proc. Mont. Acad. Sci. 20:40-47.
    • Joslin, Gayle. 1980. Wildlife inventory and hard rock mining impact analysis of the West Cabinet Mountains and Lake Creek Valley, Lincoln County, Montana. MTFWP 91 pgs + 47 pgs app.
    • Lockner, F.R. 1968. An analysis of feeding behavior in the red-tailed chipmunk. Ph.D dissertation. University of Montana, Missoula. 146 pp.
    • Patterson, B.D., and L. R. Heaney. 1987. Preliminary analysis of geographic variation in red-tailed chipmunks (Eutamias ruficaudus). Journal of Mammalogy 68:782-791.
    • Plopper, C.E. 1968. Insular and mainland populations of Peromyscus maniculatus at Flathead Lake, Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 91 pp.
    • Reichel, J. D. 1986. Habitat use by alpine mammals in the Pacific Northwest. Arc. Alp. Res. 18(1): 111-119.
    • Reid, F. 2006. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, 608 pp.
    • Russell, R. J. and S. Anderson. 1956. Small mammals from Silver Bow County, Montana. Murrelet 37:2-3.
    • Rust, H. J. 1946. Mammals of northern Idaho. J. Mammal. 27(4): 308-327.
    • Thompson, Richard W., Western Resource Dev. Corp., Boulder, CO., 1996, Wildlife baseline report for the Montana [Montanore] Project, Lincoln and Sanders counties, Montana. In Application for a Hard Rock Operating Permit and Proposed Plan of Operation, Montanore Project, Lincoln and Sanders Counties, Montana. Vol. 5. Stroiazzo, John. Noranda Minerals Corp., Libby, MT. Revised September 1996.
    • Tisch, E.L. 1961. Seasonal food habits of the black bear in the Whitefish Range of northwestern Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 108 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Red-tailed Chipmunk — Tamias ruficaudus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on July 27, 2016, from