The striped, chattering, ever-busy chipmunks, of which America possesses several delightful species, although able to ascend into trees, and frequently doing so, are groundlings, and fond of rocky places into whose crevices they can quickly rush when an enemy is seen or heard; hence their fondness for the stone walls that in the East divide farm fields, and in general they are more inclined to associate with man and his works than are the tree squirrels, although the grays lend themselves readily to the semidomestication of residence in village streets and city parks, as the red never does. The chipmunks dig long underground tunnels, enlarged here and there into chambers serving as bedrooms, storerooms for food, and refuse bins; and the northwestern species are so numerous that between what they eat and waste in gardens and grainfields and the bad runways for water their galleries make, they are justly regarded as a pest.

These pretty but troublesome chipmunks are called "gophers" in some parts of the West, but that name is more generally given to the gray or brownish ground squirrels of the plains, classified as spermophiles by naturalists; and they are so varied, numerous and destructive wherever grain is grown, from the prairies of Kansas and Nebraska to the California valleys, and northward to the Saskatchewan, that extensive and costly poisoning operations are necessary to suppress them. Similar to them, but larger, are the prairie dogs, whose communities, or towns, of burrows and tunnels render useless large tracts of land in the southern half of the plains. Very similar animals to these abound in Russia and eastward throughout the open country of central Asia. They have undoubtedly increased much within late years through the killing off of the natural enemies that in the old days held their multiplication in check.