'Rat-a-tat! Happy Rat Year!' says the chipmunk
By Zhao Ying

Can you make your feet touch the back of your head? If you have enough flexibility, it might not be a hard task. But for chipmunks, this is a piece of cake. Small and fluffy, chipmunks are loved by many people. Here are some facts you might not know about this adorable creature.

1. Chipmunks are the smallest in the squirrel family.

As kin to squirrels, chipmunks also have bushy tails and dazzling eyes. They are normally 10 to 18 centimeters tall with a tail as long as 8 to 13 centimeters. 

2. Only Siberian chipmunks live outside North America.

Among 25 species of chipmunks, only the Siberian chipmunk lives in northern Asia, from Russia to China and Japan, as well as in some European countries. Others reside in North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico.

3. Chipmunks are not fans of socializing.

Chipmunks are not social animals. They spend most of their time foraging alone. They only interact with each other in the spring when the mating season comes.

4. Chipmunks store food in their cheeks.

Chipmunks' favorite foods range from nuts, mushrooms, berries and grains to insects, bird eggs and even frogs. Amazingly, they usually put extra food in their cheeks. The "bags" can extend to be three times larger than their head. When they return home, they store the food for winter.

5. Chipmunks hibernate but wake up from time to time.

Chipmunks hibernate during the winter. At this time, their heart rate can drop from 350 to only 4 beats per minute, and their body temperature also drops dramatically, from 34 to 4 degrees Celsius, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Unlike bears, which sleep through the entire cold winter, chipmunks sometimes wake up and eat their stored nuts and other food.

Happy Year of the Rat!

In Chinese, both rats and mice are called "shu." In fact, the Chinese word "shu" refers to almost all rodents, from squirrels and moles to chipmunks and chinchillas. 

Here are all seven kinds of shu from the rodent family to wish everybody a happy Chinese New Year.

For more: 

'Rat-a-tat! Happy Year of the Rat!' says the hamster

'Rat-a-tat! Happy Year of the Rat!' says the flying fox

(Video provided by CGTN Nature's film crew.)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com)