They live in deciduous woods and urban parks in southern Canada and the eastern United States. They prefer locations with rocky areas and shrubs to provide cover.
They climb trees well but construct underground nests with extensive tunnel systems, often with several entrances. They store food in their burrows. During winter, these animals enter long periods of torpor, but do not truly hibernate.
These animals are mainly active during the day, spending most of their day foraging for food. They eat bulbs, seeds, fruits, nuts, green plants, mushrooms, insects, worms, and bird eggs. Predators include hawks, foxes, raccoons, weasels, snakes, and cats.
Eastern chipmunks defend their burrows and live solitary lives, except during mating. Females produce 1 or 2 litters of 4 to 5 young. They have two breeding seasons. One goes from February to April, the other June to August. The expected lifespan of Tamias striatus in the wild is perhaps a year; in captivity it may live eight years. On average they live 2-3 years.
In order to hide their burrow, eastern chipmunks will carry the dirt that they excavate to a different location in their cheek pouches. Since they are an easy prey species, they have to hide their burrows. They also line their burrows with leaves, rocks, sticks, and other material. This makes them even harder to see.
They have several bird-like chipping calls that give them their name.