Why Eastern chipmunk have pouch?

The Eastern chipmunk, a small squirrel which lives in eastern North America, has specially adapted pouches inside its cheeks, in which it is able to hold large amounts of food at a time.

Cheek pouches are more pronounced in certain rodents, such as hamsters, yet this structure is also distinguishable on certain species of rat, like the Gambian pouched rat, of which extensive morphological investigations have been conducted. Aspects including rat pouch musculature, vascularization, and innervations were all explored and compiled through this and other studies. The widely distributed Rattus rattus is an example of the rodent family Muridae that lacks a true cheek pouch, rather, they exhibit more elastic cheeks (not true pouches) due to the organization of their cheek musculature.

Concerning the musculature, the cheek pouch is composed primarily of a developed masseter (cheek) muscle that exhibits a high tensile ability. The masseter muscle has been shown to insert into the pectoralis muscles, allowing for a higher degree of food retention. The pouch is clearly divided between a buccal (cheek) and sublingual (below the tongue) portion.


Picture Credit : Google