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What Do Chipmunks Eat?

The diet that the chipmunk outside your window keeps is more interesting than you might think at first. They’re hungry little critters who consume a lot more than just the acorns we see in cartoons. So, what do chipmunks eat? Read on to learn more about chipmunks, their eating habits, and how to feed them properly (or how to keep them away from your bird feeder!
What Do Chipmunks Eat?

What Do Chipmunks Eat?

Chipmunks, living near human populations, have quite a varied diet. Depending on what’s available, a chipmunk can be found dining on just about anything you can think of From nuts, seeds, and fruits, to food scraps, bird eggs, and even bet food and smaller rodents, chipmunks don’t care so long as they’re full! That’s right, a chipmunk, despite what popular thinking might assume, isn’t even a strict vegetarian!

Chipmunks Feeding Behavior

What is a chipmunk’s diet like? Do chipmunks eat whatever they can or do they have a preference? Does it change based on where they live, food availability, or the time of year? Do they store up food and eat extra to prepare for the winter? The diet and feeding behavior of a chipmunk is largely dependent on those factors. They don’t simply eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner like we do; there are many more things that they have on their mind.

In Good Seasons

The feeding behavior of a chipmunk is largely dependent upon what time of year it is and what the year’s weather has done to affect the food supply. In a year with average, ideal weather, the food supply will be very plentiful, and chipmunks will not have to look very hard for food. In times like this, a chipmunk will eat what comes most naturally: nuts, seeds, and local fruits. They may also eat mushrooms and grass, or the choice insect like a grasshopper. But in a year where things are optimal in terms of climate and food supply, they won’t deviate much from this!

In Bad Seasons

When there are many storms, droughts, or other weather conditions that make it hard to find food. This makes the normal dietary choices for chipmunks pretty scarce and sends them searching out different sources of sustenance. In these scenarios, you’ll find chipmunks expanding their pallete a bit to include things like bugs, insects, and bird eggs.

Hibernation

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What do chipmunks eat? | Britannica

Do chipmunks eat in preparation to hibernate? Well, yes and no. Chipmunks do hibernate during the winter months, but unlike other hibernating mammals, they wake up from time to time. When they wake up, they’ll chow down on their food stores before heading back to sleep. Because chipmunks hibernate, one of the most important aspects of their feeding behavior involves gathering food for their winter stash, as well as eating as much as they can before hibernation starts.

If you have a bird feeder in your backyard or near your window, you have likely seen chipmunks trying to get into it. Pay closer attention and you’ll notice that this happens more often when winter is approaching. When they are successful, they will eat a shocking amount of food, and then take some home to store for later.

As spring comes around, chipmunks have burned off the excess fat they added for the hibernation season and are running low on food. That means it’s time for them to get back out there!

Chipmunks Health Problems

Just like other mammals and rodents, chipmunks are vulnerable to a lot of health problems that occur in nature. Ringworm, parasites, and dental issues are common health problems for chipmunks. Ticks and lice are another concern for people who keep chipmunks as pets or have them in their yard. You should watch out for these health concerns on your pet chipmunk, your other pets, and even on yourself because parasites spread quickly and subtly.

Lifespan of the Average Chipmunk

The normal lifespan for a chipmunk is pretty short; eastern chipmunks, the kind that are common in North America, have a life expectancy of only three years. The Siberian chipmunk (native to Asia), on the other hand, lives much longer: between 6 and 10 years.

Origin and Family of Chipmunks

Chipmunks are from the same rodent family as tree squirrels, marmots, and prairie dogs. These animals share many of the same behaviors, diets, and DNA. Chipmunks are from the animal family called Sciuridae, and they are the cousins of squirrels. Chipmunks are found mostly in North America; all but one of the 25 different species of chipmunks are from the USA and Canada, as well as neighboring places. The Siberian chipmunk is found in Russia, Mongolia, China, and other places around Asia. This makes chipmunks one of the most interesting rodent species because it isn’t found all over the world. Compare that to field mice, squirrels, and rats, which are in almost every country you can name!

What is a Chipmunk’s Favorite Food?

Chipmunk’s favorite food is definitely the acorn! Like most other rodents such as squirrels and marmots, chipmunks eat mostly nuts and seeds. On top of that, chipmunks eat other things like mushrooms, grass, and some eggs/meat. Though they aren’t carnivores that prefer meat or hunt, they are omnivorous animals that will definitely take an opportunity to eat more than just nuts, seeds, and sunflower seeds.

A chipmunk’s number one favorite food group would likely have to be nuts; tree squirrels and chipmunks’ natural habitat is an environment that has lots of tree nuts, so these are a natural food that is usually pretty easy for them to find.

When chipmunks eat in places near people, they can get into the trash, food scraps, pet food, and even candy! Imagine feeding your pet chipmunk chocolate-covered peanuts! That would be pretty fun, and they sure would like it, but it isn’t the best food for their health. Just because a chipmunk eats whatever it can get its hands on does not mean that you can feed your pet chipmunk whatever you like. Wild chipmunks are not selective in their diet because survival is more important than finding the exact right type of food to eat. If you have a pet chipmunk, however, you should try to feed them the foods that they enjoy from their natural diet, like nuts and sunflower seeds!

Do Chipmunks Like Bird Food?

Bird eating seeds from bird feeder

Birdfeed is remarkably similar to what chipmunks eat; this is because they share a very similar habitat filled with similar types of food. This means that when a chipmunk has access to your bird feeder, they see a whole buffet laid out just for them. If you don’t want to see chipmunks eating from your bird feeder, work hard to make the feeder inaccessible to chipmunks. this could mean putting it on a hook rather that they cannot climb rather than on a post or suspended from a tree.

Of course, if you don’t mind watching chipmunks feast on your bird feeder, you’re free to enjoy the show! Chipmunks eating can be pretty fun to watch; they have a very entertaining way of stuffing their faces. If that sounds fun to you, don’t worry about keeping the chipmunks away, but do be prepared to replenish your bird feeder more often!

What Can I Feed a Wild Chipmunk?

What do chipmunks eat in the wild?
What do chipmunks eat in the wild?

If you are in your backyard, out hiking in a park, or encounter a chipmunk somewhere else in nature, you may want to feed it so that you can make a new furry friend or get a good picture. If you want to feed a wild chipmunk, try to give them something that reflects their natural diet. This, most likely, would be in the form of a raw unsalted nut or an oat/grain. Salted or flavored nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are suitable, but the sodium and sugar might be too much for them. Similarly, if you have any raw fruits or vegetables like carrots or tomatoes, these are a good option for feeding a chipmunk.

Are Chipmunks Nocturnal?

Chipmunks are not nocturnal; just like you, they do most of their living when the sun is out. Why? Because a chipmunk relies on its powerful eyesight for safety, and darkness hinders its ability to spot danger. So, chipmunks only like to come out during the day. This makes them a great friend to have in your backyard that you can say “hello” to during your day!

Do Chipmunks Eat Tomatoes and Veggies?

Do chipmunks eat tomatoes? Yes they do!

Chipmunks are big fans of common home garden plants. If you have tomatoes, carrots, and other veggies growing in your garden, they will look like a great feast to a chipmunk. They’ll eat as much of it as they can and take more home to eat later. If you want to keep chipmunks away from your garden, try spraying the plants with a combination of things that they don’t like, such as ginger, cayenne, and black pepper. This will make the tomatoes taste bad and keep the chipmunks far away from your garden, without harming anything.

What Not to Feed Chipmunks

What do chipmunks eat? Not anything made of sugar!

We’ve talked a lot so far about what chipmunks like to eat, but is there anything that they shouldn’t have? There are a few things that you should never try to feed to a chipmunk so that you don’t risk their health. Chipmunks should not have much salt or sugar, because their bodies don’t process high concentrations of sodium very well. They should not be given much processed food either, because it isn’t a natural food for them and can cause sicknesses.

Interesting Facts About Chipmunks

Here are some fun facts about your favorite local critter, the chipmunk:

Chipmunks are Great Gatherers

Because they need to store up food for hibernation, chipmunks are very skilled at searching for and gathering food. In fact, one chipmunk can gather more than 150 acorns in a single day! If you could gather that many sandwiches in a day, people would definitely call you a hoarder.

What is a Group of Chipmunks Called?

When you see more than one chipmunk grouped together, you can refer to them by their official group name: a scurry. “Look at that scurry of chipmunks! They’re fighting over the world’s largest acorn!”

They Love to Sleep

Chipmunks sleep up to 15 hours every single day, leaving them only 9 hours to gather food and take care of their daily tasks before they head back to sleep. No wonder they are always moving so fast!

They Like to Be Alone

Some mammals are pack animals, but chipmunks are not one of them. Wild chipmunks come together for mating season and for raising offspring, but other than that, they tend to hang out by themselves. They are the true independent animal!

Lots of Chipmunk Pups

Chipmunks breed about twice a year on average; each time, a female chipmunk can give birth to between 2 and 8 pups! That’s a lot of little mouths to feed; that must explain why they gather so many acorns every day- the dinner table is huge!

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I Feed a Wild Chipmunk?

Try to stick to natural foods like raw nuts and seeds, or raw vegetables or fruit. This ensures that you won’t risk harming the little chipmunk!

Are Chipmunks Dangerous?

Chipmunks are not dangerous, but if one of them gives you a small bite, you may want to get checked for rabies. Chipmunks rarely bite but it can happen on accident sometimes; they can carry disease just like any other animal, so it’s important to be careful.

What are Chipmunks Attracted To?

Chipmunks are attracted to food more than anything. If they sense that there is a large store of food nearby, they instantly want to get close to it to check it out!

Where do Chipmunks Live?

Chipmunks are native (mostly) to North America and they live in small burrows underground. They dig these burrows themselves and don’t usually stray too far from home.

How Long do Chipmunks Live?

North American Chipmunks have a life expectancy of about 3 years. Siberian chipmunks can live much longer, between 6 and 10 years.

What do Chipmunks Look Like?

Chipmunks look a lot like very small squirrels that don’t have bushy tails. They also typically have dark fur streaks on their backs that make them easy to recognize.

Where do Chipmunks Nest?

Chipmunks live in underground nests called burrows. Typically, they will build their burrows underneath or very close to the trees that drop acorns, their largest source of food.

Do Chipmunks Climb Trees?

Yes! Chipmunks are excellent little climbers; they can climb trees, fences, and other objects with their naturally strong feet and bodies.

When do Chipmunks Have Babies?

Chipmunks have babies about twice a year, early in spring and then late in fall. Chipmunk babies take about one month to gestate, so the process happens a lot quicker than in humans.

How Many Chipmunks Live Together?

Chipmunks are naturally solitary creatures and live alone unless they are raising their young. Typically, you will never see chipmunks together, and if you do, it is pretty rare!

Where do Chipmunks Sleep?

Chipmunks sleep underground in their burrows. This lets them stay warm and safe during their 15 daily hours of sleep.

How Many Babies do Chipmunks Have?

Chipmunks mate twice a year and can have between 2 and 8 pups each time. That’s 4-16 babies each and every year!

Do Chipmunks Live Underground?

Chipmunks do live underground. Their subterranean homes are called burrows, and they like to dig them near trees that provide food!

Do Chipmunks Hibernate in the Winter?

Chipmunks hibernate through each winter; however, they don’t stay asleep the entire time. They wake up to eat periodically. In times of need, they may leave the burrow to find more food, but this is rare.

How Fast can a Chipmunk Run?

Chipmunks are incredibly fast! They can reach top speeds of 21 miles per hour, which makes them great at avoiding predators.

Do Chipmunks Eat Meat?

Chipmonks do eat meat, but not as part of their normal everyday diet. They prefer acorns, grains and nuts, but will eat insects, eggs, and baby birds when they are especially hungry.

Where Do Chipmunks Go in the Winter?

When winter arrives, chipmunks retreat into their burrows. They have stored up food for the winter season, and they hibernate inside their burrows the entire time!

How Much Does a Chipmunk Weigh?

The average chipmunk weighs between three and five ounces. That’s lighter than most of the foods humans eat for lunch!

Do Squirrels and Chipmunks Get Along?

These two types of rodents get along fine, but they aren’t exactly friends. Both squirrels and chipmunks are loners, so they don’t interact much. But, they also don’t find, so it is best to think of them as peaceful neighbors.

What do Baby Chipmunks Eat?

Because they are mammals, baby chipmunks drink their mother’s milk until they grow. Once they are starting to grow up a bit, the young chipmunks will start to eat the things that their mothers do, like acorns!

 

What do chipmunks eat?

Chipmunks have a varied natural diet of acorns, nuts, seeds, grains, and sometimes even bird eggs. Chipmunks are one of the most interesting and adorable creatures around. If you have chipmunks around your home, now you know what they like to eat, how to feed them, and how to keep them away from your bird feeder or garden if you need to!

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