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How Fast Can a Chipmunk Run? (Facts About Chipmunk Speed, Travel, & More!)

How Fast Can a Chipmunk Run? (Facts About Chipmunk Speed, Travel, & More!)

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Chipmunks are one of the liveliest and speediest members of the squirrel family. Don’t let their chubby cheeks and bushy tails deceive you, they’re capable of running at top speeds and can easily outrun most humans.

These cute critters mostly stick to their home burrows, but they’re also capable of traveling long distances in search of food or mating partners. Discover how fast chipmunks run, how far they travel, and how high they jump in this interesting and in-depth guide.

How Fast Can a Chipmunk Run?

A chipmunk can run as fast as 21 miles per hour. In comparison, the average running speed of a human male is only 8 miles per hour, while females run at an average speed of 6.5 miles per hour.

One of the reasons why chipmunks run quickly is because they have small and lightweight bodies. Chipmunks range in body size, with most of them being 8–10 inches long including their tails, and weighing between 2–5 ounces.

Chipmunks also have tiny clawed feet, with four toes on their front feet and five toes on their back feet, which allow them to have a strong grip on various surfaces and increase their agility. They run with their bushy tails straight up in the air to help them stay balanced.

Speedy movements are essential to chipmunks’ survival. This characteristic allows them to scurry from place to place in search of food and evade predators by outrunning them or quickly finding a hole to hide in.

How Far Do Chipmunks Travel?

On average, chipmunks travel as far as ⅓ mile from their burrows to search for food and water. They can travel several miles more to access more desirable food sites, but this makes them more vulnerable to predation.

Throughout their entire lifespan, chipmunks prefer to stay within their home range, measuring 0.5–1 acre. Adult male chipmunks tend to have larger home ranges than juvenile and female chipmunks.

Aside from traveling above ground, chipmunks also travel through small tunnels underground. The main tunnels of their burrows can reach 30 feet in length and 3 feet in depth.

Chipmunks are territorial creatures and will aggressively defend their territories, which are around 50 feet from their burrow entrance. They have two kinds of burrows: shallow burrows for temporary shelter during the day, and deeper burrows for nesting, hibernation, and food storage.

During the spring and late summer, male chipmunks can travel long distances to find female territories for breeding purposes. They can venture out as far as 170 meters from their burrows to find mating partners, while females remain within their territorial range.

How High Can a Chipmunk Jump?

A chipmunk can jump as high as 3 feet. Unlike squirrels, who can jump as high as 5 feet vertically and 9 feet horizontally, chipmunks’ legs and bodies are not well-adapted for jumping from great heights and over long distances.

Chipmunks are capable of climbing high trees and leaping from there, but they’re prone to get injured while doing so and prefer to stay closer to the ground. Their leg muscles are strong enough to run fast but aren’t forceful enough to sustain and absorb impact from high jumps.

In comparison, squirrels have extra powerful hind legs that are bigger than their front legs. This trait provides them with a strong propelling force, which can easily lift their tiny and lightweight bodies.

Chipmunks usually attempt to jump high or climb tall structures when they’re in search of food. They’ll attempt to climb tall fences and trees, scale high walls, and get into bird feeders to collect seeds, berries, fruits, nuts, bird eggs, and insects.

What Are Common Chipmunk Predators?

Common chipmunk predators include aerial predators such as hawks and owls, predatory mammals such as foxes, coyotes, and wolves, and reptiles such as snakes. Weasels, fishers, bobcats, raccoons, and even domesticated cats and dogs can prey on chipmunks, too.

Young, old, and injured chipmunks are particularly susceptible to predators. To defend themselves, chipmunks quickly escape using the multiple hidden entrances in their burrow system, or use their earthy coloring to camouflage into rocks, leaves, twigs, and soil.

Chipmunks also use a unique communication system to warn fellow chipmunks from nearby predators. They produce chips or high-pitched noises for terrestrial predators, chucks or low-pitched squeaks for aerial predators, and trills or short vocalizations when they’re pursued.

Final Thoughts

Whether foraging for food, digging burrows, or evading predators, chipmunks possess many fascinating characteristics and impressive capabilities.

Hopefully, this guide has enlightened you about these nut-loving critters’ unique running, traveling, and jumping abilities. The next time you see one at the park or in your backyard, take a moment to appreciate the speed and skill behind those cute and chubby cheeks.


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