Keeping chipmunks together

It has been illegal since 2016 to buy or sell chipmunks as pets. If you bought or rescued a pet chipmunk before 2016 you can keep them for the rest of their natural life.

brown and white male chipmunk in a cage © RSPCA

Chipmunks are generally solitary animals in the wild, though they do form loose colonies where territories overlap. They can sometimes be aggressive towards other chipmunks, and adult males will usually fight if they're housed together.

However, it depends on the breed as to whether chipmunks should be kept alone or together. Here's more on keeping chipmunks together.

Which chipmunks can be kept together?

While some species of chipmunks are better housed in pairs or groups, this doesn't apply to all species.

  • Siberian chipmunk may be housed in a pair or group, but take great care to ensure they're compatible and continue to get along.
  • An eastern American chipmunk must always be housed on their own.

Successful combinations for chipmunks kept together are thought to be:

  • A male and female pair
  • A single male with up to three females
  • All-female groups 

We recommend neutering all chipmunks where they're kept in mixed-sex pairs or groups. 

Remember, under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation, you're responsible for ensuring that your Siberian chipmunks don't breed.

Time alone for your chipmunks

Keep your chipmunks happy by giving them places where they can escape their companions when they want to. Make sure you give them enough nest boxes and hiding places for at least one each, ideally also with an extra one, and give them at least one box large enough for them all to fit in so they can rest together if they want to.

Handling and interacting with your chipmunks

Regular interactions with your chipmunks will help them to gently get used to you. However, chipmunks are fast and agile and can be difficult to catch. Take care when catching them so that it's not a stressful experience for them - avoid chasing them around the enclosure. You can carefully use padded nets and closeable nest boxes to help catch them.

Chipmunks don't generally enjoy being handled and it can be stressful for them. If you're handling a chipmunk, avoid picking them up by their tail, as this can be painful and can injure them. Instead, gently pick them up using cupped hands. 

We recommend wearing 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.

Keeping chipmunks with other pets

If you have other animals in your home - such as dogs, cats and ferrets - keep them away from your chipmunks and their enclosure, as chipmunks are a prey species and can find the presence and scent of other animals stressful.

We advise constant supervision while your chipmunks are with another animal or person who may deliberately or accidentally harm or frighten them, even if you believe they're good friends.

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