Cliff Chipmunk — Sheer, Unadulterated Cuteness
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Our heat wave continues. Yesterday’s high temperature was 116 degrees. Today’s high is about the same. Standing outdoors in heat of this intensity is the functional equivalent of being assaulted repeatedly with a very large mallet. I, and all of Tucson have our fingers crossed that this will end soon.
I’ve decided to go for sheer, unadulterated cuteness today in order to divert my attention from the heat. This is a Cliff Chipmunk.
This delightful little ground squirrel is a cousin of the eastern Chipmunk, albeit smaller. Unlike some species of chipmunk, the Cliff Chipmunk lacks bold stripes on its back. It inhabits the southwestern United States including parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah, and its range extends down into northern Mexico.
As its name implies, the Cliff Chipmunk is an inhabitant of rocky surfaces including hillsides and cliffs. I photographed these individuals near the summit of Mt. Lemmon. However, they can also be found at lower elevations. My friend Ned Harris tells me that he’s seen them in the upper reaches of Sabino Canyon, at about 4,000 feet above sea level. Their range begins in an ecological zone that includes Pinyon Pines and junipers and it extends upward into the Ponderosa Pine and oak forests at the mountains’ summits.
I can honestly say that in my years of photographing local wildlife I don’t think I’ve come across anything that is cuter.
Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 1000, f5.6 @ 1/800.