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Why Do Chipmunks Chirp? (3 Common Reasons)

Why Do Chipmunks Chirp? (3 Common Reasons)

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Chipmunks make interesting sounds like clicks, chucks, or chirps. Sometimes, chipmunks’ chirping gets mistaken for birds or other animals. At the same time, their chirping can mean different things.

So, why do chipmunks chirp?

Chipmunks make chirping sounds in response to predator sightings or territorial threats. Apart from predator threats, chipmunks chirp to warn other chipmunks that they own that territory. Female chipmunks are especially more territorial than males.

Indeed, chipmunks are amusing creatures capable of vocalizing, just like other animals. In this article, we’ll know the science behind chipmunks’ chirping and other sounds.

How Do Chipmunks Make That Chirping Sound?

Like rats, squirrels, and other rodents, chipmunks communicate with one another through squeaks and chirps.

Chirping is the repetitive “chip” sound that chipmunks or birds make. In some sources, chirping and chipping are used interchangeably.

That said, chipmunks make chirping sounds through their vocal cords. When they chirp, they open their mouths slightly.

Consequently, you can observe that their fluffy cheeks twitch together with their little bodies.

Reasons Why Chipmunks Chirp

Chipmunks don’t usually produce sounds unless they sense danger or are defending their territory.

They produce repetitive chirping sounds as a warning for other chipmunks or a way to entice the females.

Most of the time, their chirps sound like that of birds, and it’s almost impossible to distinguish the two.

Here, we list the top reasons why chipmunks chirp:

1 – Warning Call For Predators

In the presence of land predators like cats, snakes, or raccoons, chipmunks make aggressive chirping sounds to warn other relatives of the impending threat.

Aside from land predators, sometimes chipmunks chirp in the presence of aerial predators like hawks.

More than that, the chirping sound also functions as a call of discouragement to predators like cats.

Since cats love preying on unsuspecting chipmunks, they usually go away once chipmunks chirp and let them know that they’re aware of them.

2 – Territorial Defense

Chipmunks aren’t fond of living together. Since they’re solitary creatures, they’re extremely territorial and overprotective of their burrows.

In fact, there’s only one chipmunk for one burrow, except for females who are nursing baby chipmunks.

With that, chipmunks chirp loudly in the presence of another chipmunk. Chirping is like their way of saying: Hey, the burrow’s occupied. You better go somewhere else.

3 – Mating Season

Chipmunks’ mating season usually happens twice a year. These critters mate from February to April or June until August. So, don’t be surprised if you often hear chirping during these months.

Interesting fact:

Chipmunks are natural loners, and they only come together during mating season. While they mate twice a month, mating mostly occurs during late spring.

Don’t be shocked the next time you hear chirping sounds in the springtime; it may be a sign that these critters are beginning to mate.

How Long do Chipmunks Chirp?

Chipmunks chirp briefly, lasting for a few seconds to minutes. However, there are instances where the chirping sounds can last for 15-20 minutes.

What Other Sounds Can Chipmunks Make?

Besides chirping, chipmunks can produce other sounds mostly associated with predator threats.

Particularly, chucking or knocking sounds (like that of a woodpecker) is described as low-pitched. When chipmunks make this sound, it’s most likely that an aerial predator is close by.

Furthermore, this alarm call is done by chipmunks when they’re stationary.

Meanwhile, trills and chits can be heard from chipmunks whenever they’re threatened.

Chits are brief, continuous, and very high-pitched noises that chipmunks make whenever they feel scared or are running away from predators.

Sometimes, chipmunks produce croaking sounds, almost similar to that of frogs. They sometimes do a combination of croaks and chips when they’re courting female chipmunks.

Why Do Chipmunks Chirp So Loud at Night?

Chipmunks aren’t nocturnal animals. They’re most active during the day, so the chirping sounds you hear at night may come from insects, bats, or geckos.

In a similar manner, nocturnal birds like owls and mockingbirds could be the source of late-night chirping sounds. So, next time you hear chirping sounds at night, don’t blame chipmunks!

How Is a Chipmunk’s Chirp Different From Other Animals?

Often, it isn’t easy to distinguish chipmunk sounds from that of other animals. For example, rodents like squirrels and birds make the same chirping sounds as chipmunks.

For that reason, it takes expertise to set animals apart from hearing their sounds alone.

Unless you’re an ornithologist or constantly exposed to bird sounds, it’s hard to tell whether the source of the chirping is chipmunks or birds.

Thankfully, we’ve discovered key differences between bird sounds and chipmunk noises. At the same time, we also found a technique to tell chipmunks and squirrel sounds apart. Read on to find out.

Chipmunk vs. Birds Sounds

Both chipmunks and birds produce high-pitched chirping sounds. To tell both sounds apart, pay attention to how the chirping sound harmonizes.

For instance, bird sounds may appear more musical, rhythmic, and steady than chipmunk sounds.

Apart from that, chipmunks’ chirping sounds may occasionally be paired with croaks. Either way, it’s tricky to set both sounds apart.

Chipmunk vs. Squirrels Sounds

Like chipmunks, squirrels also make chirping sounds when predators threaten them. Sometimes, squirrels produce squealing, buzzing, and barking sounds as well.

To tell both sounds apart, notice how chipmunks’ chirping sound more high-pitched. Compared to squirrel chirps, chipmunks’ chirping closely resembles that of birds.

On the other hand, during instances where you hear chirping within your home, you can tell the culprit by listening to where the chirping sounds come from.

If the chirping sound comes from above ground or ceiling, it’s most likely a squirrel. Squirrels are expert climbers, unlike chipmunks, which are burrowing animals.

However, a chirping sound from below doesn’t always mean chipmunks. It can be squirrels or rats, too.

How to Stop Chipmunks From Chirping

Sometimes, the chirping sounds could be persistent to the point that it’s disrupting your daily activities.

Moreover, it can be problematic once their population increases around your home as they make burrows that can damage your property in the long run.

The only way to stop chipmunks from chirping is by getting rid of them. To exterminate chipmunks, you may hire pest control services specializing in capturing or relocating them.

To add, you need to be wary that using poison or firearms against them is dangerous and ineffective.

Furthermore, some states prohibit the killing of chipmunks, so that’s one thing that you need to be mindful of, too.

Finally, preventive measures, like putting a gravel border around your garden or property and using natural repellents such as cinnamon or cayenne, can be pretty effective in keeping chipmunks out.

Final Thoughts

Chipmunks communicate through chirping or making other sounds like trilling and croaking. These sounds could indicate that they’re in distress or there’s a predator nearby.

Since chipmunks are solitary creatures, they’re very defensive of their territories. So one reason that they’re making chirping sounds is that they’re warning another chipmunk to stay away.

Lastly, chipmunks chirp in an attempt to copulate with a female.


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