Chipmunks are extremely active animals, full of activity and curiosity therefore require plenty of space for exercise.
Although naturally ground dwelling animals, they are excellent climbers and in the wild spend a lot of their time foraging for food.
Chipmunks will take time to tame, but if you are patient you should be able to tame your chipmunk, but they do tend not to like being handled. The average life span of a chipmunk can range from 2-5 years old for males and sometimes over 6 years old for females.
Don’t be fooled by their size they are still a big commitment and you must ensure you can take on providing a long and lasting home to your new family member.
As they are seasonal breeders, the best time to buy a young chipmunk is in late spring or early autumn.
A healthy chipmunk should be bright, alert and energetic, moving around the cage easily. Its coat should be glossy and clean with no bald patches or sores. Look out for signs of discharge from the eyes, ears, mouth and nose.
At least 10 weeks old when you buy them and they should have already been socialised by handling them while they are young. You can often sense how friendly the chipmunks are before you buy them.
Chipmunks can be housed singly, in pairs or in groups of one male or two females or alternatively in colonies.
Always purchase from a reputable pet shop or breeder.
If you decide to locate your chipmunk indoors then place them in a quiet room away from draughts. Televisions and any other similar electrical equipment can emit sounds you can’t hear but can be stressful to animals. Chipmunks require plenty of distractions, as they get bored very easily. Furnish the cage with plenty of non-toxic wood branches, shelves, pipes and perches
Hiding is a very important part of their life
to keep them entertained for hours. You will need to provide one or more nest boxes with soft paper or hay placed in as bedding
Allow your chipmunk 24 hours to settle into their new surroundings without handling them.
It is essential to provide your chipmunk with a very large cage at least 4ft x 3ft x 4ft (120cm x 90cm x 120cm). You can buy cages specifically designed for chipmunks but you can also adapt an outdoor aviary.
The cage must be completely escape proof with a mesh size no bigger than 25mm (1 inch) square. If using an aviary ensure to provide double doors to prevent escapes and a base, which is solid or lined with wire mesh to keep your chipmunks from tunneling out. Provide plenty of levels, branches, rocks, pipes and extra nest boxes to entertain your chipmunk. Your outside aviary should have an enclosed shelter at one end.
Clean and disinfect the cage at least once a week.
Your local Jollyes can supply you with diets that are specifically formulated for chipmunks. Their diet would consist of a mixture of cereals, dried fruits and nuts with the addition of vegetables. You can also feed your chipmunk fresh foods such as apples, carrots and cauliflower. Chipmunks tend to hoard their food so check the nest boxes daily and remove any stale or uneaten fresh food. You can also add vitamin drops to their water and place mineral stones or wooden chews in their cages to keep their teeth trim.
Chipmunks enjoy foraging so they will enjoy searching for hidden food and treats so be sure to hide plenty throughout their cage
Provide a water bottle for your chipmunk and ensure this is checked and cleaned on a daily basis.
It is important to know that chipmunks do not really enjoy being handled. In fact they are known to bite you if you try. Although with some patience you may be able to tame your chipmunk.
Although they can be kept on their own, chipmunks are in fact social animals and enjoy each other’s company. However, two males are known to fight.
As mentioned earlier chipmunks do get bored very easily. Therefore provide a large variety of toys to keep them entertained and you can also use toys designed for parrots in conjunction with food or treats. If your chipmunk does not receive adequate stimulation they can suffer from abnormal behaviour patterns such as running backwards or forwards along the same route for long periods of time. If you keep them entertained and feed them accordingly then they should live long, happy lives.
Keep an eye on your chipmunk’s teeth as they grow very quickly. Provide wooden toys and gnaw blocks to reduce this. If you think their teeth are too long then contact your local vet for further information, as they may need to be clipped.