Basic information about chipmunks
1. Appearance and size
Chipmunks are rodent type animals that are striped. They belong to the family of Sciuridae, and often they look like squirrels. Chipmunks are small in size, a little bigger than palm sized and embrace brown fur. They are little squirrel-like creatures. The eastern chipmunk grows not more than 11 inches and weighs up to 4.4 ounces only.
These are the biggest types of chipmunks as chipmunks usually are around 4 to 7 inches and weigh up to 1.8 ounces. Their tails go on to grow about 3 to 5 inches in size. Chipmunks create their full appearance at certain ages. When it is 1 to 2 weeks old, it’s just 1.5 inches long, with no fur, and closed eyes. As it grows in this age, the stripes start to appear; it starts to get more active. However, the eyes remain closed.
By 2 to 3 weeks, its fur grows full, eyes still closed, a color pattern is fully developed, and it looks like a miniature adult version of a chipmunk. At around four weeks, the chipmunk opens its eyes and ears. By 4-7 weeks, it keeps on developing and gets more active every day. Finally, by 7-8 weeks, the chipmunk has a thick coat of fur, and it becomes fully active and swift.
2. Habitat and distribution
Chipmunks are not considered to be social animals even around their species. They interact during their breeding season only. They are considered to be most active during dusk and dawn and spend most of their day looking for food and storing it.
The natural habitat for a chipmunk would be forest ecosystems. They consume numerous different kinds of fungi in forests. Eastern chipmunks usually sleep or hibernate in self-constructed burrows that can be more than 3.5 meters in the winters, however; the western chipmunks do not hibernate. They keep their sleeping corners clean and through their feces in waste tunnels.
During hibernation periods or in their deep sleep phase, chipmunks seem as if they are dead. Their heart rate declines from 350 beats to around four beats per minute. Their body temperatures drop from 94 degrees Fahrenheit to about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with over 25 types of chipmunks, there are different habitats for most of them. While they carry food from one place to another, they distribute mushroom spores throughout the ecosystem which encourages natural growth.
The eastern chipmunks usually found in North America. These chipmunks prefer living in the wooded areas as well as in the urban parks of eastern United States or Canada. Their habitat also comprises of rocky areas, log piles, or shrubs that work as a cover for them. The neotamias species of chipmunks resembles the squirrels the most. They usually live in the west of North America. Similarly, each species of chipmunks have their habitat mostly around the northern America and Canada.
3. Food and eating habits
Chipmunks feed on the many kinds of fungi in an ecosystem. They are omnivorous, and studies show that they are not very picky about foods. Probably this is why they can eat forest vegetation like mushrooms, berries, nuts, seeds, and grains. These lovely cute creatures are usually the prey for other animals because they are very small; however, they prey on other creatures too like insects, baby birds, frogs, and bird eggs.
Just like various ground squirrels, a single chipmunk is capable of gathering up to 165 acorns per day. Unlike bears, they do not store fat inside their bodies for longer periods of time. They have big pouch-like cheeks in which they store their food. The chipmunk cheek pouches are like massive grocery bags; they can stretch to about three times their heads, and they store the food until they can take it home to keep it for the winters.
However, if one of them is taking care of an orphan chipmunk, it is important to feed that orphan the most digestible food that they can eat and digest easily. Usually, there is a special formula along with a few pieces of rodent chow, nu-triblock and even some fruits like apples, bananas, and grapes. By the time they grow, they are fed with unsalted sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, fruits, vegetables, pine cones, fresh branches leaves and everything that fits the best to their natural eating habits.
4. Lifecycle and young chipmunks
Just like several rodents, young chipmunks are born after just a 30 days period of gestation. Female chipmunks give birth to two to eight chipmunks at once and about twice or thrice a year, usually in late spring and fall. Young chipmunks are called pups, and the chipmunk groups from the same mother are collectively called a litter.
They are born hairless, blind, and pink and just like jelly-beans. Studies showed that mother chipmunks are very concerned about their chipmunks and if in case anyone is missing, the mother chipmunk get panic and search until they find it. Pups only spend about two months with their parents after which, they settle for finding their food for the upcoming winter and building their homes.
Nearly, about six weeks, they remain under the strict eye of their mother, after which they start taking short trips outside their burrow. By week 7 and 8, the mother becomes more aggressive to prepare her young one for independence. By the 9th week, they are completely banished from their burrow and are forced to find a new place and build a home for themselves. When the chipmunks are left out independent for the first time, other chipmunks start making a chirping noise probably to make their territories.
15 fun facts about chipmunks
Chipmunks are probably one of the cutest creatures in the whole world. They are wonderful to be kept as pets and even better as free animals in their natural habitat. With animated movies and more on educational channels, chipmunks are gaining popularity. People like to watch cartoons that feature these chipmunks and would like to keep these as a pet in their home, especially the kids.
However, before you decide to get a chipmunk as a pet make certain, you know all about them. Chipmunks are subject to annual national wildlife studies that ensure that these animals do not harm you. These professionals found some astounding facts about chipmunks that you may not know. If you are planning to pet chipmunks, make sure to read these facts thoroughly.
1. Chipmunks are considered to be extremely talkative creatures. They make bird-like noises for communication with several different bodily gestures. They usually make these sounds when a litter of chipmunks released by their parents into the wild while building new houses. The chipping sound they make marks their property. That is probably the reason they are informally called as chipmunks.
2. To make their ‘bed,’ chipmunks set leaves as their bed inside their burrows. Female chipmunks also set leaves and sit on them before they give birth. They need a comfortable and neat surrounding. Moreover, chipmunks require staying warm for a very long time after their birth because they are vulnerable to cold.Even after they become old, they like to stay warm because they go into deep sleep phase and seem almost dead in a partially warm winter climate.
3. The small creatures are extremely territorial. Chipmunks’ territories extend to about half an acre around its burrow. An average adult chipmunk will usually defend up to 50 feet from the entrance of the burrow whenever they have to.They are small and cute, however; they will viciously fight any creature for their land when they have to. Chipmunks to do not even like sharing their burrow or their home with other chipmunks except when they are either reproducing or when the mother is taking care of her young ones.
4. Since they are very small, chipmunks fall under the prey of various animals which include snakes, hawks, owls, weasels, bobcats, raccoons, and coyotes. However, chipmunks do not back out, since they are omnivorous, they prey on other animals too. They hunt for small frogs, bird’s eggs, insects, and other arthropods.
5. There are about 25 species of chipmunks. These include single genus, Tamias sibiricus, neotamias, and more. Mostly set in North America and Canada, chipmunks are numerous different kinds comprising different habits. None of them are considered as dangerous except those that were recently subjected to human interference. They are not dangerous either; it’s just that they are disturbed.
6. The average lifespan of a chipmunk in the wild is between 2 to 3 years only. The female chipmunk goes through a period gestation for 30 days about twice or thrice a year. She usually gives birth to 2 to 8 chipmunks together. Chipmunks fully grow within nine weeks.
7. An average chipmunk has five toes on their front paws and four toes on their back paws. This form of paws helps them in digging for their burrows and also sensing the depth of the area before they start building their house. Moreover, their paws help them in stability when they carry a lot of food in their cheek pouches.
8. Although they are forest creatures, chipmunks usually build their houses near residential areas. Burrows near houses can go as far as to damage the house. They will usually wreck gardens and flower bulbs if they think that the spot is good for their burrow.
9. A chipmunk’s cheek pouch can expand up to three times its head size. That will help them in storing food that is at long distant from their storage places. They can carry about 165 acorns at once.
10. Leaves and mosses hide their burrows, and they are surprisingly very clean from inside. Since they are very possessive, they make sure to hide their burrows.
11. Chipmunks are considered to be minor agricultural pests throughout North America.
12. The chipmunk got its name from the ‘chip-chip’ sound they make.
13. They do not like to interact with other chipmunks except at the time of mating season which is late spring and then again in early fall.
14. Chipmunks are known to store more than eating. They collect the food in their cheek pouches and take it to their storage while they chew on very little of it.
15. Almost all chipmunks have stripes on their body. They have at least three dark and two light stripes on their body including their faces.
According to the IUCN’s red list, chipmunks are not in any major danger of extinction or otherwise. Only the palmer’s chipmunk is in danger of extinction. These species of chipmunks exist in the Spring Mountain range in Nevada only.
They are considered dangerous because of the human interference and the growing population in their habitat. Additionally, households with cats and even stray cats tend to attack chipmunks and eat them. Another cause of chipmunks’ interactivity with humans is the several movies that cast chipmunks. Inspired by them, children and adults want to pet chipmunks causing them to be unwillingly trapped as pets even though chipmunks are said to be extremely sensitive to human touch.
However, since chipmunks are not harmful, not much has been done to keep them protected, but written below are what domestic and small animal support companies do to protect the hazard ones.
Young chipmunks still need their mothers because they can be lost. That makes them an orphan; hence they die before mating and producing further generations. Usually, the mother chipmunk will search for her baby frantically, and for that reason, it is recommended that if a baby chipmunk is found, you must leave it at the exact spot safely where it was, so their mother will find her way back to her baby.
However, if the chipmunk needs serious attention, you can wrap a warm bottle in a towel and keep it under it to relief them by keeping warm until the mother gets back. If the mother does not come back for a few days, the chipmunk needs vital care.
They should be rehydrated and warmed. There are countless rehydrating solutions available at drug stores that can be fed to the baby chipmunks every 2 hours. It keeps their body temperature stable. Chipmunks should not be given human baby pabulums, cows’ milk, and other pet products because it can cause death.
Chipmunks are to be fed with a 1cc oral syringe gradually. They usually suck it fastly. However, a controlled amount is given to them otherwise they may sneeze it out causing damage and even death for a little one.
Baby chipmunks are also helped in urinating before and after every meal otherwise its bladder can burst. They do this naturally; however, it is still important to stimulate them if they don’t. They are stimulated by dipping a Q-tip into warm water, holding it steady and gently stroking its genital area. As the chipmunk urinates, it is highly important to keep stroking it. Otherwise, it may stop.
Once chipmunks are about nine weeks old, they are no longer tied down and left free in the wild to build their houses, family, and other things.
Relationship with human beings
As the chipmunks are shown in animated movies and cartoons, people have developed an interest in these cute little rodents. That increases the demand of the chipmunks to keep them as a pet. People do pet chipmunks, as they are cute, small, and comparatively easier to take care of, but it is to be kept in mind that not all animals are to be kept in houses as pets, it ruins their freedom and eventually with a lot of human interaction, they become endangered.
However, people who pet chipmunks do not need much space for them since their cage is an aviary with nest boxes. Chipmunks are never kept as pets for a very long period. Hence they have not let go of their natural personality to be free and cheeky. They do not like socializing even with their species.
One of the biggest dangers to humans is that if a chipmunk bites, it transmits disease and that is extremely hurting. Furthermore, with baby chipmunks, it is hard to take care of them, there are a lot of technicalities that need to be followed otherwise they can easily die.
Chipmunks don’t enter houses by will. They prefer to set up their residence underground. However, if hungry, it may find its way inside your house to look for food and carry it to his home. Chipmunks are attracted to light, so the easiest way to keep them out of the house if one enters, is to open windows and doors that have access to the natural light and switch off other lights. The dark is the worst place for a chipmunk, and they love the natural light. Hence, they will exit.
Additionally, chipmunks are not the best friends for people who are extremely conscious about their gardens since chipmunk tend to make great big burrows. They are even defensive about their property, so once their burrow is made, it is hard to get the ground back. They will fight viciously with you for it.
They do not have any specific repellent, however; trapping is the best way to get rid of them safely. Live-catch wire-mesh traps or other common rat snaps can be used to catch chipmunks. You can also use a variety of baits for chipmunks to be lured into traps. These baits include peanut butter, nutmeats, pumpkin, sunflower seed, raisins, prune slices, or common breakfast cereal grains.
The trick is to place the trap where chipmunks are most seen because they visit their area of interest frequently. The trap should be placed so that it doesn’t move before the chipmunk gets in. For improved results, set traps for a few days with food without being activated so that chipmunks become acquainted with it before they are trapped.
It is highly important to check the traps for any unwanted animal. Trapped chipmunks are very vicious, so it’s important to avoid any direct interaction of human beings with the. Moreover, it is important not to kill them since they are living beings too, call the local wildlife authorities or otherwise set it free in the wild of its natural habitat.
Chipmunks do not really like interacting with other chipmunks, and they tend to get ‘angry’ when they are petted with other chipmunks. As mentioned earlier, they produce babies in the late spring or early fall, which makes it wrong to cage them.
These small rodents belong to the wild and live the way they want. With human interruption in their life, their habits change which harms their existence. People love to pet them because they look extremely cute and playful, whereas the truth of the matter is, they are not playful, but they are hyper and try to run to collect food and stay safe. Just like every other animal, chipmunks deserve to live freely in the wild and not to be caged like prisoners!