Appropriate company for chipmunks
Whilst some species of chipmunks are better housed in pairs or groups, this isn’t applicable to all species. In fact, an eastern American chipmunk must always be housed on his or her own.
In the wild, chipmunks are generally solitary animals, though they do form loose colonies where territories overlap. They can sometimes be aggressive towards other chipmunks and, adult males will usually fight if housed together.
Successful combinations are thought to be:
- A male and female pair
- A single male with up to three females
- All female groups
We recommend that all chipmunks are neutered for animals kept in mixed-sex pairs or groups.
A Siberian chipmunk may be housed in a pair or group, but great care has to be taken to ensure they are compatible and continue to get along.
Under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation, you’re responsible for ensuring that your Siberian chipmunks do not breed. Further information can be found on page 6 of the document ‘FAQ for UK stakeholders’.
Time alone for your chipmunks
Providing places where your chipmunks can escape their companions when they want to will be beneficial to their well-being. In the case of multiple chipmunks, ensuring that there are enough nest boxes and hiding places for at least one each (ideally also with an extra one) will improve their environment as it can provide them with greater choice. Providing at least one box large enough for all to fit in will allow them to rest together if they wish to.
Interacting with your pets
Regular interactions with your chipmunks will help to gently habituate them to you over time. However, chipmunks are fast and agile and can be difficult to catch.
Care must be taken to ensure that catching them is not a stressful experience so avoid chasing them around the enclosure. Padded nets and closeable nest boxes can carefully be used to aid in the catching process.
Chipmunks don’t generally enjoy being handled and it can be stressful for them. If handling a chipmunk, avoid picking them up by their tail, this can be painful for them and cause them injuries.
They should be gently picked up using cupped hands. It’s advisable to wear strong gloves when handling chipmunks to protect yourself from being bitten. After a while, and with training, some chipmunks can be taught to take food from your hand.
Chipmunks are a prey species
Make sure that other animals in the home are prevented from accessing the chipmunks or their enclosure. Chipmunks can find the presence and scent of other animals in the home stressful. As a prey species, it’s necessary to prevent dogs, cats and ferrets from going into the vicinity of their enclosure to keep your chipmunks feeling safe and happy.
We advise constant supervision while with another animal or person that may deliberately or accidentally harm or frighten your chipmunks, even if you believe they are good friends.