Most Hollywood movies and cartoons show chipmunks having big cheek pouches full of food. These striped rodents seem to always carry food around with them inside their cheeks.
It does make you wonder, what do chipmunks eat?
While most media depictions give you the idea that they love nuts, which they do, these furry little creatures are omnivores. This means they eat a variety of plants and animals, including seeds, flowers, insects, and even small birds.
This article gives you everything you need to know about this small, furry rodent’s diet!
Since chipmunks are omnivores, they can survive off of whatever is abundant near their habitat. They’re opportunistic scavengers that love easily accessible food!
However, because of their appetite and the fact that they can eat almost any crop, chipmunks are seen as a nuisance to backyard farmers. For sweet crops like berries, depending on the location, chipmunks are the public enemy number one right next to pests.
You’re probably wondering how these small rodents can be voracious eaters when they have such small stomachs. They can hoard and stockpile food because they have stretchable cheek pouches.
They burrow and store the food items they find—usually nuts, grains, and cereals—for winter and hibernation seasons.
Chipmunks are also known for exploiting bird feeders. They’re skillful climbers, and this helps them a lot when scavenging for food sources up in trees and other high places.
Currently, there’s limited research about chipmunks raised in captivity and as pets, mainly because these animals haven’t been kept as pets for a long time.
Other animals in the rodent family, such as hamsters and rats, have been domesticated and kept as pets for years.
Since chipmunks are omnivores, they have a wide range of food preferences. Those living in the wild but near human homes have even developed a liking for food items that humans enjoy!
Fruits and veggies are essential in any healthy diet, be it for humans or animals like chipmunks! Fruits contain vitamin C and antioxidants, while vegetables contain fiber and vitamin A.
Yes, they can! Chipmunks are notorious for their potential to destroy strawberry harvests because they love this sweet fruit.
Aside from the strawberries, they can also eat the plant’s roots. These small creatures are natural diggers, which makes it easier for them to get their hands on the roots and seeds of other crops
Grapes are good for chipmunks. They’re a healthy option for these furry friends who have quite a sweet tooth for fruits.
However, unlike strawberries, only rabbits and deer feed on a grapevine’s foliage and stems. Chipmunks prefer just the fruit.
Similar to strawberries, blueberries are also one of a chipmunk’s favorites! They generally enjoy all types of berries, including cherries and raspberries.
Chipmunks raised in captivity and kept as pets are often given blueberries because they’re a superfood with lots of nutrients.
Chipmunks will eat tomatoes, but sometimes you’ll find that they only like munching on certain parts of this juicy fruit. Either way, no type or part of a tomato is poisonous or dangerous to a chipmunk.
However, make sure that the tomatoes are fresh and free from any type of disease or rot.
Hollywood movies weren’t wrong when they paired chipmunks with acorns or oak nuts because these furry friends love to eat nuts in general!
They’re also known to stockpile these nuts in burrows because they don’t rot or expire as most fruits and vegetables do.
Yes, chipmunks can eat almonds. These skilled climbers can scale almond trees with ease.
They can even remove the hull and hard shell around the nut using their front teeth. Their dentition helps them eat tough food with shells.
Unfortunately, this means they can gnaw through wood, wiring, and even plastic.
The answer is a resounding yes. A chipmunk will happily chomp on these creamy cashews. In addition, cashews have a slight sweetness to them, which animals with a sweet tooth love!
Although cashews are a great food source for chipmunks, they contain slightly lower amounts of healthy unsaturated fat compared to other nuts, like almonds.
Walnuts are one of the chipmunks’ natural foods, so yes, they can safely eat this type of nut.
Nuts, in general, give these small rodents the high-calorie boost that their bodies need because they’re constantly expending energy when moving around to scavenge for food.
They’re mobile animals, and they can speed up to 21 miles per hour. Although they need calories in their diet—which are usually high in seeds and nuts—be careful about how much you give.
Pistachios are safe for chipmunks. These nuts fall on the sweeter side, which small rodents adore.
Similar to most nuts, they’re a healthy food choice because of the calories they provide. However, always give them in moderation since chipmunks tend to overindulge, and this can lead to obesity.
Because of the wide range of good choices a chipmunk can eat, you might be curious about some of the other food items that don’t fall into the fruits, vegetables, or nuts categories.
Aside from the usual food items, these striped rodents can also feed on small birds, frogs, and insects. They exhibit this eating behavior during the warm seasons, while they switch to their stockpiled nuts during colder climates.
Chipmunks have been found to eat and enjoy bread as much as humans do! Because some wild urban chipmunks live close to some houses, they sometimes find other pastries and baked goods to munch on.
Although bread isn’t toxic, too much dough can harm their bones. Owners should give bread and other baked treats in moderation.
Chipmunks enjoy eating dry raisins! These are a good source of fiber and help these small striped rodents with digestion.
Additionally, raisins are a high-energy food item. It’s a great addition to your pet chipmunk’s diet in combination with oats, nuts, fruits, and cereals.
Chocolate is perfectly safe for chipmunks. You can give it to them as a sweet treat, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in your furry friend’s diet.
You have to regulate how much chocolate you feed your chipmunks because these are food items with high sugar content. Aside from causing rapid weight increase, too much sugar can also wear down their teeth.
Rotting teeth is a bad sign because it could lead to many different problems. They use their strong front teeth for eating tough foods and opening hard shells.
Dog food contains a lot of protein, which can benefit your chipmunk. While there’s no danger in feeding this to them, most formulations of dog food are made especially for, well, dogs.
That said, there aren’t many commercially-available pre-made food mixes for chipmunks. Most people who keep them as pets have to create their diet from scratch.
While this isn’t that hard since these small rodents would eat pretty much anything, you need to prepare well-balanced and healthy meals for your chipmunk.
Dog food is a great protein source, but give it in combination with cereals, oats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables for other vitamins and nutrients. Some dog food formulations are pretty salty, so make sure you also provide a constant source of drinking water.
While it does seem like chipmunks eat anything and everything, there are still some that are dangerous for them. Below are some of the food items that you shouldn’t give to these small rodents.
Since chipmunks like to stockpile food, even when they’re kept as pets, you have to be on the constant lookout for moldy food. Sometimes, they might not be able to tell if items in their food stores are going bad.
When you see any signs of mold in your chipmunk’s stockpile, remove them as soon as possible.
Coffee grounds are a well-known chipmunk repellent among garden owners. The smell, in particular, keeps pests away, but it can also cause gastrointestinal distress.
Used coffee grounds can sometimes lose their smell. This can attract your furry pet and tempt them to try and eat them, so ensure they aren’t near any possible coffee sources.
Chipmunks are natural opportunistic scavengers and are generally not picky eaters at all. That’s why a chipmunk that won’t eat is a cause for concern for all owners and keepers.
Unfortunately, our furry friends can’t directly tell us what’s wrong. Often, the problem can’t be seen physically.
To make matters worse, there isn’t a lot of experience yet with keeping chipmunks as pets. That said, if you notice that your chipmunk isn’t eating or drinking, the best step is to bring them to your veterinarian.
There could be something wrong with their teeth or digestive system, among others.
Furthermore, animals in pain tend to scratch and bite if you try to get close, so it’s better to have trained professionals do this for you.
Since a chipmunk’s diet is pretty versatile, being omnivores and all, they can sometimes overindulge.
Regardless if you’re keeping a chipmunk as a pet or simply leaving out some food for wild ones to find, you should still try and monitor their diet. They’re voracious eaters, which increases their risk for obesity.
This is a growing problem for unconventional pets, like chipmunks, as well as those that live freely in urban places.
One way to counter this issue is to closely monitor how much food you give to your furry friends. We know it’s tempting to give them as much as their cheek pouches can carry and more, but it’s better to keep their diets in check so they can live longer and happier lives.
In addition, you should also check your chipmunk’s hydration status by observing its droppings. Do they pass it normally? Does its stool appear too dry?
When you see any major discrepancies in the normal eating and passing habits of your pet, speak to your veterinarian.
So, to answer the question, what do chipmunks eat? They eat a wide variety of food items, from fruits to insects because they’re omnivorous animals.
Additionally, those in the wild can feed on a variety of insects and small creatures, like frogs and birds. However, those raised in captivity are usually fed a diet with cereals, nuts, and berries.
They’re skillful scavengers because of their natural climbing and burrowing abilities, which is why they’re often a gardener’s public enemy number one.
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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