Tamias sibiricus | Siberian Chipmunk

Pre 2017

2017 - 2020


Conservation status

Least Concern

Legal status

Third Schedule listed species under Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. (Note: Regulation 50 not yet enacted).

Regulated invasive  species of Union concern under the European Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species [1143/2014].

Native status


First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of High Impact

Irish status

Present in the wild

Introduction pathways - 1

Escape from Confinement

Introduction pathways subclass - 1

Pet/aquarium species

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed

Yes. This species underwent a  Non-native species APplication based Risk Analysis  in 2014.

Overall risk of this species to Ireland is categorised as: MINIMAL with a MEDIUM level of confidence.

Overall conclusion summary:  Entry of the species is likely, based on the fact that the species is traded as a pet within Ireland and that records from the wild exist for this species (National Biodiversity Data Centre, 2014).

There is a likelihood of the species establishing in Ireland due to records of this species in the wild at present and studies from continental Europe that indicate that releases/escapes of Siberian chipmunk can lead to the establishment of populations. However, the failure of the species to establish in United Kingdom and other European countries introduces an element of doubt into our confidence of this species establishment in the wild of Ireland.

The natural spread of this species in Ireland is likely to be low due to the low natural dispersal rate of this species in its introduced range. The factor likely to be the greatest influence on the future spread of this species will be human mediated dispersal resulting from deliberate introductions or escapes.

Based on current research it is likely that the overall risk of this organism in Ireland will be minimal. The species is a known vector of Lyme's disease, which will increase the risk of this disease spreading, but no major economic impact or significant effect on biodiversity is recorded elsewhere within its introduced range in Europe. Few studies have investigated impacts and further research is required. Any research should focus on woodland birds, of which an impact has been recorded in its native range, and red squirrels where potential competition could occur. 

View the full risk assessment:

Species Biology


Small striped squirrel, T. sibiricus is a small striped squirrel with a long bushy brown-grey tail, sandy grey in colour with a central and two pairs of lateral black stripes (Chapuis et al., 2011). Adults generally weigh about 100g, with no sexual dimorphism (no diiference in size between sexes), adults and juveniles are only distinguishable by size (Chapuis et al., 2011).


Omnivores feeding on acorns, a wide variety of plant species and insects and exceptionally birds eggs in its native and introduced range (Chapuis et al., 2011). Chief impacts would expected to be further competition with the red squirrel and disease transmission. Siberian chipmunks in France have been shown to produce 8.5 times more Ixodes ricinu (tick species) nymphs infected with lyme disease than bank voles or wood mice (Marsot et al., 2013).


Woodland, forest and other wooded land, Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats


Polygamous and promiscuous mating system, with two cohorts produced a year in France (Chapuis et al., 2011). Litters of 3-6 , with a mean litter size of 4.8 have been recorded for chipmunks in the wild (Kawamichi & Kawamichi, 1993) in Japan, but this is a separate population than the likely source of the chipmunks introduced in Europe (Pisanu et al., 2013).

Pathway and vector description

Widely sold as a pet species, individuals in the wild are pets, escaped from captivity or released intentionally. Between 1970 and 2006, there were estimated to be 14 releases of 49 individuals of Tamias spp. in Britain (Baker, 2008) and they have been introduced into the wild in at least 7 European countries (Chapuis et al, 2011).

Mechanism of impact

Competition, Predation, Disease transmission

Management approach

There is currently an EU wide ban on the sale of this species and personal and zoo ownership is being phased out (European Commission, 2017).

Containment of this species is possible as they are easy to identify, can be readily trapped (NNSS, 2011), have a relatively slow rate of spread and small home ranges (O'Rourke et al., 2014, NNSS, 2011). However, the NNSS (2011) cautions about potential public opposition to control as well as potential difficulties around urban areas, when different landowners may be involved.


Tamias sibiricus is readily trapped. Live-traps should be baited with peanut butter, seeds, dried fruit or cereal. Traps should be pre-baited for 2-3 days. Captures can be euthanised by placing in a carbon dioxide chamber (Williams & Corrigan, 1994).


A small gauge shotgun or .22 calibre rifle should be used. They are a highly alert species and so can be difficult to shoot. Williams and Corrigan (1994) suggest the best time is early morning on a bright sunny day.

Broad environment


Habitat description

European populations are generally found in forest patches in urban areas or sub-urban woodlands and parks (Chapuis et al., 2011).

Species group


Native region

Temperate Asia


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Present in the Wild - Widespread. At present there are scattered, but widely spaced geographically, records from Fermanagh, Cork, Waterford and Dublin. It is not known if the species is breeding in the wild, though a breeding population would not account for the wide dispersal of chipmunk records as they have been shown to disperse less than 250m from their natural range in the introduced population in France (Marmet et al., 2011).

Native distribution

Native to China, Japan, Korea and eastern Russia (Pisanu et al., 2013). The likely source of the European population is from Korea (Pisanu et al., 2013).

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2024

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Report any escaped pets to the NBDC or NPWS, do not release unwanted pets into the wild.

Further information

Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE) project list the Siberian chipmunk as one of the 100 Worst Invaders in Europe.



Baker, S.J. 2008. Escapes and introductions. In: HARRIS, S. & YALDEN, D. W. (eds.) Mammals of the British Isles: Handbook. Mammal Society.

European Commission. (2017). Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern. European Union, Luxembourg.

Kawamichi, T., & Kawamichi, M. (1993). Gestation period and litter size of Siberian chipmunk Eutamias sibiricus lineatus in Hokkaido, northern Japan. Journal of the Mammalogical Society of Japan, 18(2), 105-109.

Marsot M, Chapuis J-L, Gasqui P, Dozières A, Masséglia S, Pisanu B, Ferquel, E. & Vourc'h, G. (2013) Introduced Siberian Chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus barberi) Contribute More to Lyme Borreliosis Risk than Native Reservoir Rodents. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55377.

Marmet, J., Pisanu, B., & Chapuis, J. L. (2011). Natal dispersal of introduced Siberian chipmunks, Tamias sibiricus, in a suburban forest. Journal of Ethology, 29(1), 23-29.

Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) (2011). GB Non-native Organism Risk Assessment for Tamias sibiricus – Siberian chipmunk Laxmann 1769. Site accessed 18 October 2017.

O’Rourke, E., Kelly, J. & O’Flynn, C. (2014). Risk assessment of Tamias sibiricus, Laxmann 1769 – Siberian Chipmunk. Report for Inland Fisheries Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Pisanu, B., Obolenskaya, E. V., Baudry, E., Lissovsky, A. A., & Chapuis, J. L. (2013). Narrow phylogeographic origin of five introduced populations of the Siberian chipmunk Tamias (Eutamias) sibiricus (Laxmann, 1769)(Rodentia: Sciuridae) established in France. Biological invasions, 15(6), 1201-1207.

Williams, D. E., and R. M. Corrigan (1994) Chipmunks. In Prevention and control of wildlife damage, ed. S. E. Hygnstrom, R. M. Timm, and G. E. Larson, B13–B16. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska. Site accessed 20 October 2017.

CABI Datasheet

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Global Invasive Species Database

DAISIE Factsheet