Merriam's chipmunks are small ground dwelling rodents. They have a gray to brown fur, with dark stripes. Their bellies and cheeks are white in color. These chipmunks have long bushy tails that are usually dull white on the edge.
Merriam's chipmunks are found in central and southern California, in the United States and a small area in northern Baja California, Mexico. These animals inhabit areas that have trees, shrubs, logs, and rocks. They prefer to live in chaparral, oak and pine forests, thickets by streams, and around rock outcroppings.
Merriam's chipmunks are diurnal and generally solitary creatures. Most populations do not hibernate although, at high elevations, some do hibernate to avoid cold weather and snow. During the autumn, Merriam's chipmunks collect and cache food, choose a place for shelter, and feed to gain their mass. During winter time, males usually form groups preparing for the breeding season. These small chipmunks like to use different cavities and even woodpecker cavities, and burrows from pocket gophers as shelters for the night. When foraging they usually stay within 300 meters from their night shelter. Merriam's chipmunks use different calls in order to communicate with each other. Among them are chucks that make others to be quiet and to hide, chips, trills as alarm calls, and chippers that are produced when a chipmunk is scared and running away for cover.
Little information is known about the mating system in Merriam's chipmunks. When the breeding season starts females attract males by calling to them. When a male comes to a calling female he starts to perform a display during which he runs and leaps around the female. The breeding season for these animals occurs from mid-January to June, with a peak during April. Females produce one litter per year consisting of 3 to 8 young. The gestation period lasts around 32 days. Young are born altricial, and stay in the burrow or nest before they develop. Around one month after birth, they are able to leave the burrow, however, it will take them around 2 weeks to become agile and be able to jump. Young Merriam's chipmunks becomereproductively mature when they reach 1 year of age.
Currently, there are no major threats to Merriam's chipmunks.
According to IUCN, the Merriam's chipmunk is locally common throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.
Merriam's chipmunks may help disperse oak trees due to their habit to cache acorn seeds that they consume in their diet. These chipmunks are also a prey item for local predators.