Generally, chipmunks are solitary creatures who prefer to find and collect food independently. These furry rodents are highly territorial around their burrows and will show signs of aggression toward intruders.
One exception to this reclusive behavior occurs during the early spring or late summer when chipmunks gather to mate. During this period, male chipmunks visit female territories, perform mating calls, and pursue potential mates until they’re chosen by a female.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do chipmunks mate?” you’re in the right place! Let’s discover these adorable creatures’ mating habits, gestation period, and litter-raising practices.
Chipmunks typically mate once or twice a year, during the months of February to April and from June to August. Mating season is one of the only occasions when male and female chipmunks come together.
Males are ready to mate at the earliest arrival of springtime, while female chipmunks emerge from their burrows around one to two weeks later. For some species, a second breeding season occurs in the late summer or early fall if the weather is sufficiently warm.
At a distance, it can be difficult to distinguish male and female chipmunks from each other because they look identical. However, at the beginning of their breeding seasons, chipmunks display unique physical characteristics that will help you tell them apart.
When emerging from hibernation, male chipmunks’ testicles drop down to their scrotal sacs, which are covered in white and gray fur. Generally, more mature chipmunks have darker fur.
As for females, their vaginal opening becomes enlarged. At the end of the mating season, you’ll notice the male chipmunks’ testicles ascend back to their previous position.
It takes around one year for chipmunks to reach sexual maturity. Males mature at nine to ten months old, while females can take only three months to fully mature.
Male chipmunks call out to potential mates during the mating season using a combination of chirps, croaks, and trilling. On the other hand, a female’s chipping sound communicates that she is ready to mate.
A chipmunk’s chirps are high-pitched and repetitive, similar to a bird’s. These creatures also make deep croaking sounds when attracting and pursuing females.
A trill is a short, distinct, and multi-note sound made by a chipmunk before mating and when they’re running from a predator. Additionally, chipmunks emit low and high-pitched alarm calls to warn others of aerial or terrestrial danger.
Chipmunks demonstrate similar mating behaviors and patterns across 25 different species. The process usually begins with males traveling an average of 170 meters to find mating sites while females remain within their established territories.
The male chipmunks identify, pursue, and communicate with the females who are ready to mate. Ultimately, the females are the ones who choose mates, and a male chipmunk can mate with more than one female during the mating season.
Mating usually occurs near the female chipmunk’s burrow, with the male visiting daily in order to acknowledge her. The process often involves the female chasing and wrestling with numerous male chipmunks until she chooses a mate.
Copulation begins with the male chipmunk vertically flicking his tail and trilling. It lasts around five minutes, after which the female chases him away.
Female chipmunks’ gestation or pregnancy period lasts for 30–32 days, with one to three pregnancies occurring per season. During this time, females prepare their burrows by digging new entrances, building nests out of leaves, and gathering food.
Common behavior for females during gestation includes consuming more animal matter and protecting their burrows and the surrounding area. At the end of the pregnancy, females give birth to a litter of one to nine offspring, typically in an underground nest.
Baby chipmunks, also known as kits, are blind, hairless, and weigh around three grams. The weaning process lasts an average of 40 days, and the females take full responsibility for protecting, feeding, and grooming the litter.
After four to seven weeks, the young are fully independent and ready to forage for food. They’re then encouraged by their mother to set up their own burrow, with females staying close to their mother’s territory and males traveling further away.
Most of these chipmunks will breed during their first spring, while others wait until their second year to reproduce. It’s common for older female chipmunks to mate more than once a year.
Chipmunks exhibit plenty of special behaviors during mating season, which occurs only one or two times a year. Males begin the process by traveling long distances, searching for one or more females to breed with.
Once copulation is complete, female chipmunks take charge by preparing shelter for their newborns and caring for them until they’re ready to leave the burrow. This cycle of birth and growth takes place multiple times a year, as females can get pregnant 1–3 times per season.
So, how do chipmunks mate and raise their offspring? Well, after reading this handy guide, you’ll know all that and more!
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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