Do you think those cute chipmunks make great backyard buddies? Think again! These tiny cute creatures may look innocent and cuddly with their fluffy fur and chubby cheeks, but they can be annoying and even dangerous to your garden.
Since they’re always pictured as cute, friendly, and funny in cartoons, you might think chipmunks are friendly to humans. But in fact, they can be quite mean and aggressive!
Despite their tiny size, chipmunks are extraordinary diggers and can cause severe damage to your garden and flowerbeds.
In this article, we’ll get a closer look at chipmunks and help you decide if they deserve a place in your home or garden.
Chipmunks are small striped rodents that belong to the Sciuridae family, the same family that includes squirrels, marmots, and prairie dogs.
Most chipmunk species are native to North America, except the Siberian chipmunk. These tiny rodents can be seen across diverse habitats and have fascinating characteristics that make them worth observing and studying.
Chipmunks mainly live in areas with plenty of cover and hiding spots, such as trees, logs, stumps, rocks, and shrubs.
Even though their ideal habitat is deciduous forests, woodlands, and brushlands, they can thrive in urban and suburban areas as long as they find cover. That’s why you can spot chipmunks in backyards, gardens, hedges, and fence lines.
Interestingly enough, chipmunks can construct complex burrow systems in their habitat with multiple chambers and tunnels.
They’ll dig shallow burrows to seek refuge while they forage during the day, but when it’s time to store their food and make nests, they’ll dig deeper tunnels with impressive structures. You’ll be surprised that they even fill their sleeping tunnels with shredded leaves to make comfortable sleeping beds!
Aside from shelters and housing tunnels, chipmunks may also build special refuge burrows to store feces and shells.
Since they’re omnivores, those cute furry rodents will eat a wide range of foods. They eat insects, nuts, berries, fruits, seeds, corn, plant roots, mushrooms, and bulbs.
Additionally, chipmunks have cheek pouches that allow them to store food. These pockets can grow three times the size of a chipmunk’s head! It helps them store larger portions of food during hoarding.
They don’t typically hibernate like other animals. Instead, they sleep deeply for extended periods and only wake up to eat.
To hibernate properly, chipmunks must have a large cache of food in their tunnels. That’s why they hoard nuts and seeds during early fall and late summer. If you have seeds in your backyard, hide them from these sneaky folks!
Despite their friendly and cute appearance, chipmunks are solitary and don’t live in groups. Males and females only get close during their breeding season, and once they finish mating, they separate again.
Chipmunks have a reputation for being cuddly and friendly, as they are always pictured this way in cartoons. However, it’s not the case in real life.
They’re extremely territorial and can be aggressive if they perceive a threat. They even chase any intruders to ensure their territory is safe.
5 – Communication
Since they’re territorial creatures, chipmunks can be too loud when they feel endangered or threatened. They have a complex communication system that involves tail movements and vocals such as chucks and chirps.
They often produce these high-pitched sounds to alert each other about a potential danger, express dominance, or attract each other for mating.
Chipmunks are hunted by multiple predators, such as cats, snakes, hawks, raccoons, and even foxes. That’s why they’re always scared of everything, and humans are no exception. Wild chipmunks will always try to run away from humans because they’ll feel threatened.
However, some chipmunks get used to interacting with humans, such as those at local parks. They see humans on a daily basis, so they eventually get over their fear and start approaching us to get treats and so. It’s always useful to carry a handful of nuts when going to a park!
Chipmunks aren’t naturally aggressive, but they get scared of everything pretty easily. That’s why you see them always running away when people get closer to them. So what about these videos of people feeding and petting chipmunks and squirrels?
Chipmunks may be friendly to humans in various cases. For example, chipmunks who live in residential neighborhoods or parks get accustomed to humans, and over time, they lose their fear of interacting with people.
Pet chipmunks are also friendly because they love their owners.
However, it’s important not to let that trick you! Chipmunks can be extremely aggressive if they feel stressed or threatened. They’ll scratch and even bite you if they feel you’re about to harm them. So it’s critical to keep your hands away from chipmunks if they look stressed or scared.
Generally speaking, chipmunks don’t make good pets. Despite their cute appearance and playful nature, their natural behaviors and instincts make them unsuitable as pets. Let’s see why:
- They require multiple hiding spots as they always need access to safe places to hide when stressed.
- Chipmunks are high-maintenance pets; they need plenty of room for movement and exercise and deep bedding layers to burrow and forage.
- They get bored and stressed easily and develop unwanted behavior such as gnawing, hiding, and aggression.
- Like many other rodents, chipmunks can carry diseases such as Lyme, which puts you and your family at risk.
- They sleep around 15 hours daily and are most active during the day, so you probably miss out on most of their activities.
Despite all this, you can still keep a chipmunk as a pet, but it will require much work and effort to keep it happy and healthy.
With their chubby cheeks and furry tails, chipmunks are adorable little creatures that might tempt you to try and interact with them.
However, they’re not too friendly with humans and get scared pretty easily. When stressed, chipmunks become aggressive and attack by biting or scratching.
Due to their natural characteristics and instincts, chipmunks don’t make good pets. Still, raising a chipmunk is possible with the right preparation, housing, diet, and veterinary care.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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