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Can You Have a Chipmunk as a Pet? (5 Reasons You Shouldn’t)

Can You Have a Chipmunk as a Pet? (5 Reasons You Shouldn’t)

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Chipmunks are fascinating creatures that can make your backyard feel like a Disney garden.

With their cute looks and playful personalities, you might think that those exotic animals would make excellent pets.

So, can you have a chipmunk as a pet? Continue reading this article to find out!

Can You Have a Chipmunk as a Pet?

Generally, no. You can’t have a chipmunk as a pet. For starters, you might face some legal issues when keeping wild pets in captivity.

You see, many US states and municipalities prohibit raising chipmunks, squirrels, or other exotic animals in your house. Not to mention, landlords have the right to forbid keeping domestic pets, let alone chipmunks.

Even if it’s legal in your state and you live in an unrented house, you’ll most likely need a permit to keep chipmunks.

Sure, you might find it difficult not to help an injured animal immediately. However, you should check the local laws before rehabilitating a chipmunk or keeping it as a pet.

That’s to avoid paying any fines or facing jail time. Even worse, animal control can forcefully take your pet away after growing attached to it!

Aside from the legal issues, wild pets have specific needs that can be challenging to meet. Not to mention, they can harbor all sorts of harmful organisms, causing troublesome infections.

Can You Buy Pet Chipmunks?

In most US states, you can’t buy chipmunks as pets. Again, that has to do with legal issues.

However, in some places, like Florida, it’s legal to own chipmunks as pets. The best part is that you don’t need a permit to raise those exotic animals!

Of course, in that case, buying chipmunks isn’t against the law, but don’t just rush into purchasing those wild animals from the first seller you find.

That’s because some shops can sell illegally caught wild pets. Not only is that unlawful, but illegal wildlife trade can negatively impact the environment.

Additionally, such sellers might not take good care of the caught pet—a behavior we shouldn’t encourage.

For that reason, always make sure to buy chipmunks from reputable breeders that provide healthy animals.

Do Chipmunks Make Good Pets?

No, chipmunks don’t make good pets. As you know, those animals are born in the wild.

No matter how hard you try, you still can’t provide the same conditions as chipmunks’ natural habitat. Not to mention, it can cost you a lot of money to raise an exotic pet.

Aside from that, chipmunks aren’t social animals, making it hard to handle or train them. Here’s a detailed explanation of why chipmunks don’t make good pets:

1 – Housing

Chipmunks live in various habitats, including forests, deserts, and tundras. Regardless of the region, those exotic pets spend most of their time underground in burrows.

Occasionally, chipmunks can climb trees to search for nuts or escape predators. So, they need a spacious enclosure to move freely, as they do in nature. Additionally, it should be deep enough to allow your chipmunk to build its den.

2 – Activity

Even if you’ve created the perfect enclosure for your exotic pet, chipmunks are active pets. They enjoy as much free roaming as you can give them.

While that can make for good exercise, leaving your chipmunks in and out of your house can be dangerous.

For one, those pets are tiny; they love to climb and hide, making it difficult for you to find them.

That could be a problem since chipmunks are a target for various predators, like snakes and hawks. So, leaving them in your yard might not be a good option—even under supervision!

3 – Food

Providing a balanced diet for your pet chipmunk can be challenging. Those exotic animals are omnivores.

For those who don’t know, omnivores eat both plants and animals. In the case of chipmunks, they need a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, cereals, fungi, and insects.

Sure, you can find store-bought food. However, those tiny animals like to hunt and store food.

So, it’s crucial to provide them with enough food for them to stack. The problem is that fruits, vegetables, and other meals can become moldy.

For that reason, check the food store daily to remove any spoiled food and prevent your chipmunk from getting sick.

4 – Behavior and Domestication

Since they’re wild animals, chipmunks are hard to train. That’s especially true since they don’t like to be handled.

Now, that would’ve been fine if chipmunks were peaceful animals. However, that’s not the case.

Chipmunks are playful; you can expect them to jump around the house, knocking over objects. They can also urinate to mark their territory, which can be difficult to clean and unpleasant.

What’s more, chipmunks are a bit skittish. They can get nervous and won’t hesitate to bite if threatened.

5 – Diseases

Like other animals, chipmunks can carry various diseases. Among the common illnesses those exotic animals can cause is the plague.

Since they have fur, chipmunks can harbor fleas. Those tiny insects are potential carriers of Yersinia pestis, the bacteria responsible for pneumonic plague.

Aside from this highly infectious disease, chipmunks carry salmonella, which causes gastrointestinal issues.

Additionally, those exotic pets can transmit hantaviruses through their urine and feces. The virus affects the lungs and leads to fatal consequences if left untreated.

How to Care for a Chipmunk

Now, if you come across an injured chipmunk, it’s best to contact a wildlife rescue and avoid rehabilitating the animal yourself.

However, if you buy a chipmunk from a reputable breeder, you can raise the animal as a pet. Here’s how:

Step 1: Check for Wounds

Before taking your furry friend home, you need to visit the vet. The doctor will check for hidden wounds and injuries and prescribe medications to facilitate healing.

Additionally, the vet will check for and prescribe medications for fleas and fungal infections.

Step 2: Provide a Shelter

As mentioned earlier, chipmunks need a lot of space. Aside from that, you need to provide objects for them to climb, nest boxes, and suitable flooring to mimic their natural habitat.

To achieve that, pick a spacious cage, ideally six feet in height and width. Make sure to cover the flooring with suitable material, like wood shavings or paper shreds.

Use dust-free hay or old cotton clothes for the nest boxes to keep the chipmunks warm. However, avoid towels or any material that can get their claws stuck.

Step 3: Feed Your Chipmunk

Providing chipmunks with a balanced diet can be a complex task since they eat various foods. You can ask your vet to recommend a store-bought product and provide supplements if needed.

However, generally, a typical chipmunk diet should consist of the following:

  • Cereals like wheat, barley, oats, and corn. They should make up around 50% of the diet.
  • Nuts, such as pine. However, make sure they’re unsalted.
  • Chopped fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, and carrots.
  • Clean cuttlefish bones to support their calcium needs.
  • Fresh water in a clean bowl.

Final Thoughts

So, can you have a chipmunk as a pet?

Generally, it’s not recommended to keep chipmunks as pets. Aside from being illegal in various states, chipmunks are wild animals; they need specific requirements that are difficult to provide in a domestic setting.

Additionally, those exotic animals are challenging to train. Not to mention, they can harbor various infectious diseases.

For that reason, it’s best to admire those creatures from a distance and leave them in the wild.


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