Species Alert – Chipmunk

Siberian chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus)

Issued by: Invasive Species Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Reason for issue: Chipmunks have been seen in the wild in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is a potentially invasive species in Ireland which may impact on native biodiversity.

What can you do?

  • Report all sightings to coflynn@biodiversityireland.ie or submit online. Please supply the date of sighting, location name, location description and your contact details. Please supply a photo if possible.
  • Safeguard against potential escape of your pet.
  • Do not release non-native animals into the wild.
  • Encourage responsible pet ownership. More information available from the Be Pet Wise section of the Invasive Species Ireland website. http://invasivespeciesireland.com/what-can-i-do/pets/
  • Circulate this updated alert and poster.
  • Remember that it is against the law to release chipmunks in Ireland

Invasive status: This species is listed by DAISIE as among 100 of the worst invasive species in Europe. It is listed on the Third Schedule Part 2 of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 in Ireland.

Summary of potential impacts: Uncertain at present. This species may impact on the red squirrel through competition and disease or parasite transmission. It may also impact on ground nesting birds through the predation of their eggs causing local decline in some circumstances.

Species description:

  • Small squirrel-like animal
  • Generally sandy to reddish brown coat and a long bushy brown-grey tail.
  • Adults are about 100g in weight. Juveniles and adults are distinguishable by size.
  • It is distinguished from other chipmunk species by having five dark longitudinal stripes separated by lighter zones of the same width down its back from head to rump (one central and two lateral lines at either side.

Where and when recorded: See interactive map for all verified records: http://maps.biodiversityireland.ie/#/Species/186871

Have the record/s been verified?: Yes. All records in Ireland have been verified by Dr Colin Lawton. The single record from Northern Ireland has been verified by NIEA.

Introduction status: Casual occurrence. This species is not thought to be established in Ireland.

Frequency: Rare

Is there a reference specimen?: No.

Pathway of introduction: Escape from captivity or deliberate release.

Management actions taken to date: The following actions have been taken to date:

Note: It is not in the remit of Invasive Species Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Centre to undertake action on the ground for this species. However, issuing an Invasive Species Alert and circulation of this information will inform what other appropriate actions can be taken.

Additional Resources: