Chipmunks are cute and furry creatures that have us stopping and taking pictures whenever we spot one. These little rodents have unique characteristics and are fun to watch. They’re especially interesting when they’re babies.
If you’re a fan of those little rodents, you might be curious about how they take care of their young ones.
Let’s dig deeper (as the chipmunks do), and find out more about the life cycle of those adorable creatures. We’ll answer the question of when chipmunks have babies, and give you interesting facts about them.
Chipmunks have two breeding seasons per year; the first is in the spring and the second is in the summer. In the spring, they mate from February to April, and in the summer, they breed from June to August.
Male and female chipmunks don’t come together unless they mate, which is during those two seasons. When the babies arrive, the females raise them on their own. Talk about being strong and independent!
You’re unlikely to see a newborn chipmunk as they stay in their burrows with their mothers after birth. Burrows are holes that chipmunks dig underground, and they’re considered their place of safety.
Chipmunks can build fantastic burrows with different entrances, levels, and tunnels. The mothers will typically keep their babies in a different level or chamber than where they store the food.
Chipmunks try to make their babies’ nests as comfortable as possible. They’ll cover the nests with soft materials such as leaves, mosses, and grass. By doing so, they ensure their newborns are warm and safe.
Newborn chipmunks are blind, toothless, and hairless. They rely on their mothers for everything during the first few weeks after birth.
After a month of their birth, the baby chipmunks open their eyes, and their bodies are covered with fur. At this age, they explore the burrow around them and eat solid foods.
When the chipmunks are six weeks old, they’re encouraged to leave the nest and venture into the world outside.
From the age of 6-8 weeks, the chipmunks may stay with their mothers. They leave when they’ve learned how to avoid predators and find their food on their own.
At eight weeks old, the chipmunks have grown fully and leave the nest to be on their own.
The number of babies a chipmunk can have depends on the species. The gestation period of a female chipmunk lasts for 31 days. After that, she’ll have a litter of 2-8 babies. The number of babies can go up to nine as well.
Since chipmunks have two breeding seasons, they usually have two litters of babies yearly (once in the spring and once in the summer). During her lifetime, a female chipmunk will have 20-30 babies.
Chipmunks are born tiny (almost the size of a walnut), yet they grow quickly. Those creatures will reach almost a third of their full size by the time they’re ready to leave their nest.
A newborn chipmunk is around 1.5-2 inches tall and will weigh about three grams. When the chipmunks reach the age of six weeks, they’ve grown to about four inches and weigh 15-20 grams.
Baby chipmunks mature quickly into adults and reach their full size at 7-9 months. At the age of maturity, a chipmunk will typically grow up to 11 inches, and weigh up to 5 ounces. The height and weight will both differ according to the species of the chipmunk.
Baby chipmunks are playful and curious creatures. As they’re growing, they learn quickly to pick up the habits of their mothers. They learn several skills, such as how to dig tunnels and find food.
The young ones also learn how to communicate through sounds such as chucks and squeaks. Moreover, they develop strong senses of hearing and smell.
These senses come in handy when they look for food and help them avoid predators. Baby chipmunks must learn to escape predators such as snakes, foxes, and hawks before leaving the nest.
Additionally, baby chipmunks are playful. At an early age, they enjoy wrestling and chasing each other, as well as climbing trees.
Newborn chipmunks rely solely on their mothers’ milk. The nursing period usually lasts a few weeks and will differ according to the species.
When the nursing period ends, and the mothers have weaned the babies, they’re ready to eat solid food. Chipmunks are omnivores and their diets consist of various foods.
They eat seeds, nuts, fruits, bird eggs, insects, and some small animals such as snails or small birds.
As they grow older and leave their nests, chipmunks search for their food. They usually scavenge for any seeds or nuts that have fallen off trees. They also use their sense of smell to look for animals’ hiding places and catch them.
Chipmunks have the remarkable ability to store food inside their cheeks. They like to collect a lot of food in the autumn to save it for the winter.
They do this to stay warm in their burrows when it gets cold. Some chipmunk species even hibernate in the winter! However, the ones that hibernate don’t store fat. Instead, they eat from the food they’ve stored now and then during the winter.
Chipmunks typically stuff their cheeks with food and take it back to their burrows. If they have babies still growing in the nests, they get a little more food to feed their babies.
Chipmunks have short lives. They typically live around 2-3 years. However, some species have been recorded to live up to 11 years in captivity.
In such environments, the chipmunks have plenty of food and are safe from predators. Therefore, there are fewer factors to stop their development.
Chipmunks are native to North America, except Siberian chipmunks, who live in Asia.
Chipmunks like to live in forests where they can gather food, and have enough space to dig their burrows. Campers often stumble upon them and enjoy taking their pictures.
As for their living preferences; chipmunks are natural loners. They like to be alone for most of their lives. Each chipmunk will have its burrow, and they don’t interact except when males and females mate, or when there’s a conflict over food.
When baby chipmunks leave their nest, they build their burrows so they can live in solitude.
Chipmunk burrows are the perfect example of animal adaptation and survival. Those smart creatures can build fascinating homes that help them cope with their environment and avoid predators.
Chipmunks will probably build their burrows near a food source, such as a tree. Those burrows can be as long as 30 feet and are well hidden.
The burrows consist of multiple exits and entrances for ease of access. The chipmunks will carefully hide the entrances under bushes or leaves so that predators can’t find them.
Additionally, chipmunks build burrows with different levels and chambers. They use the different chambers for sleeping, nesting, and storing food.
Similar to the nesting chambers, the chipmunks will also line the sleeping chambers with soft materials like grass and leaves.
The burrows have other uses for chipmunks as well. They use them to regulate their body temperatures when the weather changes. They like to spend most of the winter in their burrows.
Chipmunks play several roles in our ecosystem. First, they’re a food source for many predators like snakes, owls, hawks, coyotes, foxes, and weasels.
Second, they feed on fungi and plants, which helps disperse seeds.
Third, when chipmunks build their burrows, they recycle the soil.
Finally, chipmunks are predators of many insects and pests which may harm plants.
Chipmunks are fascinating creatures that live short, yet interesting lives. They mate and have babies twice a year, which the mothers raise.
Baby chipmunks are born helpless and depend on their mothers until they’re strong enough to be alone. That’s because chipmunks are typically independent and solitary creatures. Once they reach the age of maturity, they live on their own in their separate burrows, which they build on their own.
Even more, the burrows they build consist of several chambers. They use them to sleep, store food, and nest their babies.
Chipmunks mostly live in forests, so if you’re lucky enough, you might spot one of those amusing creatures on a hiking or camping trip.
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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