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When Are Chipmunks Most Active?

When Are Chipmunks Most Active?

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We usually see them scuttling about our garden and yard. They run around bushy spots, trees, and rocky areas carrying nuts and seeds inside their cheeks.

But have you ever wondered when chipmunks are most active? They can’t spend all their time playing and running around our houses, can they?

With that in mind, let’s answer all your questions about chipmunk behavior. Keep reading, and let’s discuss the habits, mating, and everyday chipmunk routine.

Chipmunks: Animal Overview

Chipmunks, or Tamias Striatus, are small mammals common in North America. They’re a member of the family Sciuridae and are related to tree-dwelling animals like squirrels.

The Eastern chipmunks are the most dominant variety in the US. While other species, like the Siberian chipmunks, can only be found in some parts of Russia, China, and Japan.

Physical Appearance

Many people confuse chipmunks with squirrels. And it’s only understandable since both animals belong to the same family and share somewhat similar features.

However, it’s worth noting that chipmunks are smaller compared to squirrels. Chipmunks can only get over 8 to 10 inches, while squirrels can get as tall as 18 to 20 inches.

One distinguishing feature of chipmunks is the black stripes across their eyes, back, and tail. You can’t find this fur color in squirrels with their typically uniform coat coloring.

Chipmunk Diet

Chipmunks are omnivore animals, although they mostly thrive on plant materials. They eat nuts, seeds, plants, flowers, fruits, mushrooms, insects, arthropods, frogs, eggs, and small birds.

These creatures aren’t known to be picky eaters. They’re opportunistic when it comes to their diet and will eat almost anything they can get their claws on.

Chipmunk Habitat

These furry critters are excellently adaptive animals. They can thrive in a wide range of environments, including suburban and urban areas.

However, their primary residences are deciduous forests and thick vegetation. You can also find them in meadows and fields, along fences and tree lines.

Behavior and Habits of Chipmunks

Chipmunks are active and lively animals. Their lifestyle can depend on the type of environment, but they usually follow the same routine.

Feeding Habits

Eastern chipmunks spend most of their time searching for food. They actively forage food as they feed up to six times—snacking and nibbling nuts, seeds, and fruit at every chance they get.

These furry creatures usually seek out food on the ground. They’ll comb several spots, including under bushes, rocks piles, near trees, and fallen logs.

Chipmunks collect food using their expandable cheek pouches. They then store the gathered supply in hidden caches, typically near their burrows, in preparation for the winter season.

Mating Behavior

These furry animals mate twice every year. Their first mating cycle starts from February to April, and the second mating season begins around June and ends in August.

Chipmunks are solitary creatures, only meeting during their mating period. They follow a polygynous breeding pattern, meaning males usually breed with multiple females.

Female chipmunks have a relatively short gestation period. They reproduce two to five kittens after only 31 days from the day of their mating.

Nesting Behavior

Despite their small stature, chipmunks are excellent diggers. They make their burrows and nest by digging tunnels and underground pockets where they store food and sleep.

Chipmunk holes are typically two to four inches wide, lying flat on the ground. Their dens don’t have mounds of dirt or debris surrounding the hole like moles or ants.

These critters make deep and wide tunnel systems. Their burrow can go as deep as three feet, spanning an expansive area that could reach 20 to 30 feet wide.

Do Chipmunks Come Out During the Day?

Chipmunks are diurnal creatures and are most active during the day. They’re most active during the early morning and late afternoon, searching for food.

One primary reason for their daylight activity is their eye features. Their eyes evolved for better utilization during the day and can detect motion exceptionally well than during nighttime.

Are Chipmunks Active at Night?

As diurnal animals, chipmunks sleep from sunset to sunrise. They’ll stay inside their burrow all night, wake up around dawn and start foraging for supplies.

Here’s a fun fact: chipmunks need at least 15 hours of sleep. They also have weak eyesight during the night, so staying inside their nest is ideal for survival.

Are Chipmunks Active in the Winter?

Animals adapt to winter differently to survive; some migrate, others adapt, and several hibernate. Chipmunks are one of the latter varieties.

They spend most of their winter sleeping inside their dens until the cold season passes. Unlike real hibernators, however, chipmunks go into partial hibernation called torpor.

Final Thoughts

Chipmunks are adorable animals with active everyday routines. They work sunrise to sundown, though you can find them foraging, running, and scuttling around morning and afternoon.

These furry creatures also need plenty of exercise as pets. So, if you ever find yourself taking care of one, provide it with plenty of space and enrichment activities to keep them entertained!


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