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Do Chipmunks Have a Good Sense of Smell? (Plus 5 Uses for It)

Do Chipmunks Have a Good Sense of Smell? (Plus 5 Uses for It)

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Chipmunks are small, agile, and adorable members of the squirrel family. These furry rodents are recognizable by their alternating dark and light stripes and famously chubby cheeks.

Despite their tiny bodies, chipmunks have enormous and seemingly endless appetites. You’ll rarely see them run out of food because of their hoarding habits and incredibly sharp senses.

In this guide, we’ll answer one interesting question: Do chipmunks have a good sense of smell? We’ll also examine how various scents affect these creatures’ daily lives, so keep scrolling!

Do Chipmunks Have a Good Sense of Smell?

Chipmunks have a powerful set of senses, which includes heightened hearing, superior vision, and an excellent sense of smell. These little rodents have pointed and whisker-covered noses that are highly sensitive to the scent of food, predators, and members of the same species.

Chipmunks rely on their keen sense of smell when performing the following day-to-day activities:

1 – Searching for Food

These furry creatures use their sense of sight and smell when they’re looking for something to eat. They’re attracted to the scent of their favorite foods: acorns, hickory nuts, hazelnuts, and other seeds.

Chipmunks don’t like the smell of citrus, peppermint, garlic, and onions. However, they happily feed on berries, pumpkins, squash, and mushrooms. Additionally, chipmunks depend on their sense of smell to distinguish between foods and decide which ones are safe to eat.

Chipmunks in Your Home and Garden

When gardening, your scent can transfer to the surrounding plants and make a curious chipmunk feel that you’ve invaded its territory. As a result, our furry friend may dig up your precious plants, seeds, berries, and bulbs.

The smell of human food can also attract chipmunks into your home through your roof, chimney, windows, and vents. To keep these tiny creatures at bay, add marigolds, lavender, daffodils, and hyacinth to your garden, as chipmunks dislike their scent.

2 – Locating Stored Food

If you’ve ever encountered chipmunks collecting nuts in your backyard, you’ll know they stuff surplus food in their chubby cheeks! They then carry this food to a concealed burrow or nest and revisit their cache during the winter.

To recover the hidden food, chipmunks utilize their acute sense of smell, sharp spatial memory, and exploratory digging abilities. They’re more likely to recognize the natural scent of moist seeds compared to air-dried seeds hidden in dry sand.

Surprisingly, chipmunks tend to remember not just the location of their own food cache but also the landmarks that are close to them.

3 – Avoiding Predators

In the wild, chipmunks’ heightened sense of smell is what saves them from being attacked by predators, such as foxes, hawks, snakes, owls, and raccoons. The scent of a predator’s urine and other odors can discourage a chipmunk from staying in a particular area.

After sensing a predator, chipmunks will warn other chipmunks of possible danger through high or low-pitched calls. They’ll run away or hide in their burrows until the scent is gone or when they’re certain the predator has left.

It’s worth mentioning that ammonia mimics the scent of predator urine and is highly effective in repelling chipmunks from your property.

4 – Recognizing Relatives

A study from the Journal of Mammalogy shows that chipmunks, squirrels, and other rodents can use their accurate sense of smell to recognize male and female kin. This is because of their highly developed olfactory systems and odor production through their oral and dorsal glands.

Having precise methods of recognition allows chipmunks to give preferential treatment to relatives. Their ability to discriminate based on odor cues also plays a part in their mate choice and helps them avoid inbreeding.

5 – Communicating With Others

Chipmunks use a variety of vocalizations, body language, and chemical signals to communicate with each other. Chemical communication can occur during mating, nesting, or in times of danger.

On some occasions, chipmunks will touch noses and even smell each other’s hindquarters to detect signals from anal gland secretions. Additionally, chipmunks use scents as a unique way of marking their territory and discouraging trespassers.

Final Thoughts

Chipmunks are endearing and entertaining creatures with an unforgettable “cheeky” look. They’re energetic food hoarders who can easily find nuts, berries, and seeds through their incredible seeing and smelling powers.

Hopefully, this guide has answered your question: Do chipmunks have a good sense of smell?

Remember, chipmunks’ curiosity and heightened senses can sometimes lead these furry friends to wander into your home or garden. Nontoxic repellents, moving garden ornaments, and specific plants can protect your property without causing these cute creatures any harm.


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