A chipmunks behaviour can be hugely affected by their environment, in term affecting their health and happiness. An environment that allows chipmunks to carry out their natural behaviours is necessary when creating a suitable environment.
When building an environment for your chipmunks, you need to consider the amount of space each chipmunk has, where to place food, water, toys and safe hiding places, as well as ensuring the housing is large enough for all your pets. All of these factors can greatly influence your pet’s behaviour...
Chipmunks look for hiding spaces
As a prey species, chipmunks will always want to be able to avoid things that scare them. Access to a secure place, away from the sight and smell of predators such as foxes, cats, dogs, ferrets and birds of prey will make your chipmunks feel most comfortable.
Help your chipmunks feel safe and happy in their home by providing constant access to safe hiding places. Chipmunks will feel most safe when there are enough hiding places for them all to hide simultaneously, so ideally provide one hiding place for every animal, with an extra one for added choice.
Chipmunks need their space
Chipmunks are very lively and need plenty of room to exercise and lots of enrichment to keep them occupied. A deep layer of bedding material in their home, to burrow and forage in will also help your chipmunks be happy - as avid burrowers, chipmunks like plenty of substrates to dig and burrow in at all times.
Chipmunks are active and agile. They can become bored if they don’t have enough entertainment to occupy them, so space and opportunity to play and explore is really important for your pet’s happiness.
Chipmunks can ‘hibernate’
Although chipmunks don’t ‘hibernate’ in the truest sense of the word, they can enter a state of torpor (a lethargic state) during the winter. In warm houses, artificial light and temperatures usually suppress this behaviour. Chipmunks will hoard food throughout the year but can be driven to hoard extra during the autumn.
Chipmunks should be left alone if they ‘hibernate’ during the winter (unless you believe they’re unwell, of course). Remember, chipmunks can wake during ‘hibernation’ to feed, so to care for them during this time always ensure they have a plentiful supply of fresh clean water, fresh food and nesting material. Always remember to check on them regularly too.
Signs that your Chipmunk is stressed
Chipmunks are highly susceptible to stress, especially if they are not provided with enough space or things to occupy them.
Stressed chipmunks may start to show stereotypical (repetitive) behaviours or develop unwanted behaviours, such as aggression or excessive hiding.
A kind, quiet and a gentle approach is most effective around chipmunks. Shouting at or punishing them is very unlikely to result in any understanding and can cause them to become more nervous and scared.
Monitoring your chipmunk’s behaviour
Be observant, if your chipmunk’s behaviour changes or they show signs of stress or fear, we would advise that you seek advice from a vet or clinical animal behaviourist - as your pet could be distressed, bored, ill or perhaps injured.
If you are not already registered with a vet, you can find a vet near you today. It's a good idea to look for an exotics specialist vet who has experience in treating chipmunks and will be better able to advise on all aspects of their care.