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Chipmunks as pets

chipmunk in cage © RSPCA

Buying or selling a chipmunk is illegal

In July 2016, the European Commission published the first list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern, which came into force on 3rd August 2016. Siberian chipmunks are included, meaning that it's now illegal to buy or sell a chipmunk. We're also unable to rehome them to private individuals. Read more information on what these regulations mean for you if you're a current chipmunk owner.

You can keep an existing chipmunk

Chipmunks have only been kept as pets for a relatively short time and experts are still learning about how best to care for them. Chipmunks usually live for 4-5 years in captivity, but can live for up to 10 years meaning there may be a few pets still in homes today.

If you currently own a chipmunk as a pet, it's legal to keep your chipmunk until the end of their natural life, but you're unable to buy another.

A chimpmunk's natural habitat

Siberian chipmunks come from Siberia and Asia, while the eastern American species come from the northern USA and Canada. There are more than 20 different species of chipmunk living in these regions and as far south as Mexico. However, it's Siberian chipmunks that have been more commonly kept as pets.

Chipmunks need a varied diet. Foods such as oats, wheat, barley, corn and unsalted nuts (such as pine nuts) can all be given to them, alongside small amounts of washed, chopped fruit and vegetables.

Active throughout the day, these small, stripey creatures live on the ground, where they like to dig burrows where they make their nests. Energetic climbers, chipmunks can also be seen foraging in trees and bushes. If you're keeping pet chipmunks, try to ensure their home allows them to replicate these behaviours.

Chipmunks can be tricky to care for, as they often don't like to be handled and can easily become stressed. However, with the right environment, you can help ensure your chipmunk can behave naturally and live a healthy and happy life.

Find out more