Many people like to keep exotic pets these days, and there are plenty around to choose from. Keeping reptiles has never been so popular, but for some people the cuter the animal, the more appealing they find them. One exotic species that's gained popularity over recent times is the chipmunk.
These busy little squirrel-like creatures make great pets and will have you laughing with all the games and antics they get up to. The one thing you need to remember if you are thinking about keeping chipmunks as pets, is that although they look like lovely cute creatures, they are also brilliant escape artists so you need to make sure the cage or enclosure you keep them in is really very secure!
Here are a few fun and interesting facts about chipmunks that you may not already know about
- Chipmunks are classed as mammals
- They are rodents belonging to the Scuiridae family
- There are more than 20 different species of chipmunks some of which can be found in North America and which belong to the Tamias genus, with two subgenus species called Tamias and Neotamias
- The most endangered species of chipmunk is the Palmer's genus
- Eastern and Siberian chipmunks belong to the Tamias subgenus
- Eastern chipmunks can be found in eastern parts of Canada as well as the United States
- Siberian chipmunks are native to certain parts of Northern Asia
- Least and Yellow-pine chipmunks can be easily spotted in the wild in western Canada where they live in forests, woodlands and often get into people gardens!
- Chipmunks do look like squirrels but they different because unlike squirrels, they love to burrow in the ground where they like to store their food in their very organised burrows!
Keeping chipmunks are pets is a lot of fun although they do need specialist care. As such, it's not a good idea to keep them as children's pets, although all kids love to watch captive chipmunks when they're at play.
Here are some more fun facts about these adorable little rodents
- Chipmunks are very talkative creatures, and they boast a distinct and unique way of talking to each other, often making bird-like noises. They also use many different gestures as a way of communicating with one another that's highly amusing to watch
- The majority of species have light and dark stripes on their bodies
- A chipmunk's cheeks can expand to three times the size of its head and they have pouches in their cheeks where they hold their food until they get back to store it in their burrows
- Chipmunks burrow tunnels in the ground where they give birth to their young in one part and sleep in another part. Chipmunks also store their food in another part of their tunnel ready for when they go into hibernation
- A single chipmunk can store up to 8lbs of food in a burrow
- To make themselves comfortable in their burrows, chipmunks put leaves and grasses down in them – they do this when they are about to give birth to their young too
- Chipmunks are known to be very territorial around their burrows and nests. Their territory can extend up to ½ acre around the burrow but an adult chipmunk will only usually defend up to 50 ft from the entrance of their burrow when they have to
- Chipmunks are at their most active early in the morning and then again late in the afternoon
- In the wild, the chipmunk's mating season starts in February and goes on right till April
- Although chipmunks are not squirrels they are often referred to as striped squirrels, chipping squirrels, ground squirrels or the other name people often use to refer to them is “hackee”
- The family they belong to which is Sciuridae also includes other animals namely marmots, prairie dogs and squirrels
- The way a chipmunk stores its food in its burrow is often referred to as “larder hoarding” or “scatter hoarding”
These little rodents are always busy creatures and although they are really cute, as previously mentioned they are great escape artists which is why very secure enclosures or cages are needed if you want to keep them in captivity. You would be well advised to get some expert advice on the best type of cage or enclosure to keep your new pets in before you actually get them!
More fun and fascinating facts about chipmunks
- They weigh anything from 1 to 5 oz which is 28 to 142 grams
- Their normal length is anything from 4 to 7 inches or 10 to 18 cm
- The length of a chipmunk's tail is around 3 to 5 inches long or 8 to 13 cm
- The lifespan of a chipmunk is anything from 2 to 3 years
- Chipmunks have 4 toes on their back paws but 5 toes on their front ones!
- Chipmunks are omnivores which means they eat vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts and meat too. In the wild they will eat insects, frogs, bird's eggs, fruit and nuts and anything else they can find
- A chipmunk's burrow can be over 3.5 metres long and they keep extremely clean
- The entrance to their burrows are always very well hidden
- The most famous chipmunks in the world are the two cartoon characters that Walt Disney created called Chip 'n' Dale!
- The smallest species of chipmunk is the Least chipmunk which is only 3 to 4 inches long (9 to 11 cm) and they only weigh around 1 to 2 oz (35 to 70 grams)
- A group of chipmunks is referred to as a “scurry”
- Male chipmunks are called Bucks
- Females are referred to as Does
- Baby chipmunks are known as Pups, Kits or Kittens
- In North America, chipmunks are often considered to be minor pest especially to farmers because they cause quite a bit of damage when they burrow
If you are thinking about keeping chipmunks as pets, then you should do a little research first so that you can create the perfect environment for them to live in, and it has to be one from which they cannot escape! You would also need to find out about the right type of diet to feed them so they stay nice and healthy.
Lastly, you would need to check out all the information about when and for how long chipmunks kept in captivity go into hibernation for – this is important because you would need to be prepared and know when not to disturb your pets or their food stores!