A suitable home for chipmunks
Playful, inquisitive and active, pet chipmunks retain many of the characteristics of their wild counterparts. As a chipmunk owner, you’ll need to replicate a wild environment in your chipmunks' home.
Your chipmunks' home
The flooring of your chipmunk enclosure should be solid and covered with a suitable bedding material such as dust-free, non-toxic wood shavings or shredded paper to a depth that allows your chipmunks to perform their normal digging behaviours. This space should aim to reflect a chipmunk’s natural environment of a forest or woodland, with plenty of space to climb and to forage. Chipmunks need a large, secure, living environment - ideally the same size as a large aviary (tall enough for you to walk into without crouching).
You should also provide access to nest boxes filled with shredded paper or dust-free hay so that your chipmunks can rest and sleep comfortably. Additionally, provide spaces where your chipmunks can hide when they feel scared - like hollow logs or pipes.
Chipmunks will chew and dig so it's important that their housing is regularly checked for any damage or hazards that may cause injury to them or allow them to escape. Always repair as necessary.
Keeping your chipmunks warm outside
If kept outside, ensure your chipmunks are comfortably protected from draughts and that they have shelter (e.g. nest boxes filled with hay or shredded paper) as well as shade from the elements. If the weather turns colder, chipmunks may ‘hibernate’ for short periods, meaning they will lay down body fat to survive any cold periods when they aren’t eating. Extra nesting material should be provided during colder weather.
Protecting your chipmunks from other pets
Housing in quiet and calm areas away from dogs, cats, ferrets or other pets is very important for these animals. As a prey species, access to secure hideouts, away from the sight and smell of potential predators will help keep them calm.
Household items to avoid
Indoor-housed chipmunks need to be kept away from direct sunlight, radiators and other heat sources. Chipmunks are also very sensitive to high-frequency sounds which we can’t hear and can find these noises stressful. So, it’s important that they are housed away from items in the home which may generate ultrasound, such as television sets, computer screens, vacuum cleaners and sources of running water.
Keep your chipmunks happy by providing toys, hiding places and nest boxes within their enclosure, to allow them to freely perform their natural activities. There should be enough of these for all the chipmunks housed to prevent them competing for, or monopolising these items.
As chipmunks are very agile and active animals they always need lots of exercise! Your chipmunks will enjoy the opportunity to climb using a range of branches and ropes. Although, it’s important that wooden branches come from untreated, non-toxic trees only.
Cleaning your chipmunks’ enclosure
- Clean you chipmunk’s enclosure weekly, or more if it becomes dirty.
- Chipmunks tend to use one area of their environment as a toilet which you should keep an extra eye on as it may require cleaning more often.
- Deep-clean the enclosure quarterly using a pet-safe disinfectant, following all manufacturer's instructions. After completing a clean, ensure that you rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and make certain that it's fully dry before placing chipmunks back into their enclosure.
- To help reduce the stress associated with cleaning, it's a good idea to put some used, but unsoiled nesting and bedding material back into the enclosure after cleaning it.