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Do Chipmunks Make Good Pets?
Chipmunks are extremely common animals throughout the United States. These small and active creatures are extremely cute, and there are even several television shows named after them, including Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Disney cartoon Chip and Dale. Since they are so popular, it’s only natural to wonder if they would make a good pet? No, chipmunks will not make a good pet. Keep reading if you would like to know why they are not good pets and what you can do for the wild ones in your area so you can enjoy them a bit more.
The chipmunk is a small striped North American animal, with only one species, the Siberian Chipmunk, living in Asia instead of America. It may have originally been called a chitmunk, which is an Ottowa word for Red Squirrell. Various early texts also refer to it as a chipmonk, chipmuck, chipminck, and chip squirrels. It primarily eats seeds, fruits, buds, insects, frogs, worms, and eggs. Unlike squirrels, they prefer to stay on the ground but will climb trees for hazelnuts and acorns. Their large cheeks allow them to carry food to store for the winter. They store the food in a large cache in their nest and remain there from Autumn to Spring.
Can I Keep a Pet Chipmunk?
Chipmunks are wild animals that you cannot domesticate like dogs or cats, so most experts recommend leaving them in nature. However, if you must raise one of these animals in your home, they are not aggressive and don’t get too stressed out in captivity, so if you have plenty of patience and a little experience dealing with wild animals, you might be able to get a pet chipmunk.
Is It Legal to Own a Chipmunk?
Many states and municipalities have laws and regulations that prevent you from owning a wild animal, so you will need to check with your local official. Many areas require you to purchase a permit. You will usually need to get rabies and other vaccinations for your pet too.
If you have a chipmunk, you will need to keep it in a large cage. Though it is similar in size to a hamster, guinea pig, or gerbil, it is much more active and used to a much larger living area. Most experts recommend a minimum cage size of six feet wide by six feet deep. Since they are not big climbers, you don’t need to go so tall, but most experts recommend having a cage at least four feet tall. This size cage is usually best if you place it outdoors, and if you can make it larger, your chipmunks will appreciate it. We also recommend putting the cage up against a structure, like a wall, to help the chipmunk feel more secure. If the cage is in the open, it might feel too exposed, which can increase your pet’s stress level.
Chipmunks are burrowing animals, so you will need to have a hard floor on the cage to prevent them from getting out. However, to allow them to dig, we recommend putting a thick layer of Pete moss down. Shredded paper can also work, but it is harder to clean.
Inside the cage, you will need a nesting box about six inches wide by eight inches deep and six inches tall. Each adult chipmunk should have a nesting box to sleep in and store food. You will also need to place plenty of plants, trees, boards, and other items inside that they can play on.
Other Chipmunk Facts:
How Long Do Chipmunks Live?
Captive chipmunks usually have an average lifespan between 4–5 years, but some lucky individuals can live as long as 10 years.
When Do Chipmunks Sleep?
Chipmunks are usually active during the day but can sleep 15 hours or more each day when they are comfortable. If your chipmunk spends most of its time sleeping, there is a good chance it is enjoying life.
Handling Your Chipmunk
Since you cannot domesticate a chipmunk like a cat or a dog, it’s unlikely that it will enjoy getting too close to humans. Some owners have experienced success by spending plenty of time with the animal when it’s still a baby, but even then, they will usually try to avoid you when you want to pick them up.
Chipmunks do not usually make good pets because you cannot domesticate them like you can other animals, and they are illegal to own in some states, including Arizona and New Hampshire. However, if you live in one of the many states where they are legal, like Florida, and you have space in your yard or home for the large cage it requires, a chipmunk can make an entertaining pet. You can’t hold it, but they are fun to watch as they go about their daily chores. In captivity, they are extremely dependent on their owner and will demand almost non-stop attention, so they are best suited for someone that works from home and has some experience with wild animals.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this short guide, and it has helped answer your questions. If you have learned something new about these tiny animals, please share this look into if chipmunks make good pets on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: ducken99, pixabay
Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.