Creating a good home for chipmunks
It has been illegal since 2016 to buy or sell chipmunks as pets. If you bought or rescued a pet chipmunk prior to 2016 you can keep them for the rest of their natural life.
Here's what you'll need to be doing to replicate a wild environment in your chipmunks' home:
Your chipmunks' home will need
- Space - chipmunks need a large, secure, living environment - ideally the same size as a large aviary (tall enough for you to walk into without crouching).
- Flooring - this should be solid and covered with suitable bedding material, such as dust-free, non-toxic wood shavings or shredded paper, to a depth that allows your chipmunks to dig.
- Things to climb - their home should reflect their natural habitat of a forest or woodland, with plenty of space to climb and forage. Your chipmunks will enjoy the opportunity to climb using a range of branches and ropes. Remember to make sure any wooden branches come from untreated, non-toxic trees only.
- Nest boxes - fill these with shredded paper or dust-free hay so that your chipmunks can rest and sleep comfortably.
- Hiding places - give them spaces where they can hide when they feel scared - like hollow logs or pipes.
- Toys - there should be enough of these for all your chipmunks so they don't compete for or monopolise them.
Chipmunks enjoy chewing and digging, so it's important to check their housing regularly for any damage or hazards that may hurt them or allow them to escape. Repair their housing when necessary.
Keeping your chipmunks indoors
Keep indoor-housed chipmunks away from direct sunlight, radiators and other heat sources. Chipmunks are also very sensitive to high-frequency sounds that we can't hear, and they can find these noises stressful.
It's therefore important to keep them away from things in your home that may generate ultrasound, such as televisions, computer screens, vacuum cleaners and sources of running water.
It's also vital to keep your chipmunks in quiet and calm areas away from dogs, cats, ferrets or other pets. As a prey species, you'll need to give them secure hideouts, away from the sight and smell of potential predators.
Keeping your chipmunks warm outside
If you keep your chipmunks outside, make sure they're comfortably protected from draughts and that they have shelter (such as nest boxes filled with hay or shredded paper) and shade from the elements.
If the weather turns colder, chipmunks may 'hibernate' for short periods, meaning they'll lay down body fat to survive any cold periods when they aren't eating. Give them extra nesting material during colder weather.
Cleaning your chipmunks' enclosure
Clean your chipmunks' enclosure weekly, or more if it becomes dirty.
- The toilet area will need cleaning more often - chipmunks tend to use one area 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, rinse the area thoroughly with clean water and be sure it's fully dry before putting your chipmunks back into their enclosure.
- Keep some used bedding - 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.