I first liked Chipmunks when i watched TV shows Alvin and The Chipmunks and then Chip 'N' Dale's Rescue Ranger's. Chip and Dale were my favourites and i also watched the cartoon Chipmunks in Disney's Donald Duck cartoons and their own ones. They used to be shown quite a lot when I was a kid. This was quite a few years before i met a real Chipmunk. Aswell as Chipmunks on TV, Chipmunks have also appeared in a few Disney movies such as Enchanted, Snow White and Brother Bear and have made music - David Seville and the Chipmunks.
In 1997 when i was eleven i met some real Chipmunks in a pet store when i was staying at my grandma and grandads. I later showed dad and then we set about getting a cage made (my grandad did that) and then buying our first Chipmunk. Our first Chipmunk's were a brother and sister pair who we called Chip and Dale who were being handreared, they were between four and six weeks old at the time we brought them home May 1998, they continued to drink special cat puppy formula milk for two weeks until they were fully weaned, i don't know what happened to their mother they may have been orphaned. *CHIPMUNKS SHOULD NEVER LEAVE THEIR MOTHER BEFORE 8 WEEKS OLD*. Chip and Dale were the start of a love of Chipmunks and since then i have had probably 100+ Chipmunks in the sixteen years i've owned them. I have a mixture of adults I have bought from other breeders and babies I have kept from my litters. The first three litters we had were unplanned. The first Cinnamon Sandie we bought in 2001 turned out to be pregnant and gave birth a few weeks after we bought her to four babies. Ginger and Hazel were the only surviving two but Ginger died 2009 aged 8 years old and Hazel died March 2010 nearly 9 years old so both lived a great age for a Chipmunk. Sandie was the only female of the early Chipmunks to have babies and Ginger the only male.
There was no babies between 2003 and 2010 even though I often had unrelated males and females living together, possibily because all the early Chipmunks came from pet shops and had issues due to inbreeding which is common in those places. I decided in 2009 I wanted to breed properly planned litters but there was no babies that year now I know why because Bailey the Cinnamon was infertile. Finally we had some success, our Hermione gave birth to a litter of four 2010 (Lottie is the last survivor from that litter) .And 2011 we had our first Cinnamon babies for 8 years. Although not all of the babies i have had have survived having baby Chipmunks is very rewarding and I like to breed them as a hobby but also for conservation purposes as one colour the Cinnamon is very rare and i am hoping to help boost up the numbers of this particular variety. It is not known how many Cinnamons there are. The chipmunk forum has about a handful of them but they are slowly dying off, some members have been lucky to have them in litters but really not many are born in the United Kingdom. Compare this with Agouti's (normal) there are hundreds of them on the forum, same with Dilutes there are almost as many as Agouti. Both are very common and easy to buy without having to travel large distances.
As part of the U.K. Cinnamon Breeding programme, almost all of my Cinnamons are related, being the offspring or grandchildren, now great-grandchildren of my original breeding pair - Nugget (Cinnamon) and Willow (Agouti Cinnamon carrier). Last year (2013) I got two completely unrelated Cinns after searching for many years, and this year I got another four unrelated Cinns. Even with my new unrelated Cinnamons i will still be breeding with Dilute and Agouti aswell as breeding two Cinnamons together because outcrossing is important to keep the Cinnamon genes healthy. This is where Agouti's and Dilute's carrying the Cinnamon gene are very useful because when bred with a Cinnamon they will give birth to mixed litters of Agouti and Cinnamon or /Dilute and Cinnamon. and the Agouti's or Dilute's in the litter should carry the Cinnamon gene. This is a form of outcrossing which still gives a high chance of Cinnamon babies appearing in the litter but is healthier than breeding Cinnamon with Cinnamon all the time.
But with Dilute to Cinnamon mating there isn't much information out there about how often pure Cinnamon's appear, from doing a few Cinnamon x Dilute matings myself it seems Cinnamons will not appear in the young only Agouti so that probably means to get them the Dilute Chipmunk would have to carry the gene, similarly to get Dilutes in the litter the Cinnamon would have to carry the Dilute gene. All three colours can be born in litters from breeding two Agoutis together who carry both Dilute and Cinnamon.
To keep the Cinnamon population healthy we need to breed only fully unrelated Cinnamon pairs together or Cinnamons to unrelated Cinn carriers and avoid as much close breeding as possible. Inbreeding could become an issue from Cinnamon to Cinnamon breeding as their pure gene pool is so small in this country.
I thank so much the European breeders who I got my three unrelated Cinn pairs from without their help I would be no closer to being able to diversify our U.K. gene pool.
As well as Cinnamons I am interested in breeding some other colours, I am just starting with Piebald, Grey and Fawn. These appeared in my litters quite by accident last year (2013) one of the Chipmunks I bought from a breeder was a Grey carrying Pied and Fawn and its her descendants who are now breeding those colours. Unfortunately at the moment none of these different coloured babies/adults live that long and they are not very healthy. Since I don't have unrelated pairs or carriers of these colours I will have to breed them to normal Agoutis and Dilutes, because inbreeding here would not be the answer. I don't know how long it will take to establish these colours.
Chip and Dale (my first ever)
I decided i would like to breed Chipmunks as a hobby since 2009. I have decided to name my Chipmunk breeding munkery Chirpie Chipmunkz after a Chipmunk i had when i was little who was called Chirpie, unfortunately i had to rehome her as she was not getting on with some of my other chipmunks and i had to separate her. I felt it was better to rehome her as i wanted her to live in a bigger cage in those days I did not have outside aviaries. The man who took her had a large enclosure in his garden for her to go in and several other chipmunks which it was hoped she could be introduced to. Chirpie was about three years old when she was rehomed so hopefully had a few more good years left in her, she settled in well in her new home but i never forgot about her and still miss her, I regret not staying in contact with the new owner, he did tell me she settled in well but there was no contact after that. Now I do stay in regular touch with everyone who has one of my babies.
Although i will have Dilutes and Agouti's born, I was mainly going to set up a U.K .breeding programme for Cinnamon Chipmunks specifically as this colour is very rare and may even be endangered, there is certainly a shortage of them. Unfortunately there is a shortage of breeders, we badly need more if the Cinnamon is to have a secure future. Building up their numbers will take time but from time to time i will have Cinnamons available for sale or swap to other Cinnamon bloodlines/Cinnamon Carrier bloodlines. And eventually to other breeders/owners interested in starting up a Cinnamon breeding programme who may be new to Cinnamons. But I will not be selling these babies to just anyone. I will try and sell unrelated pairs where possible.
My goal is that the Cinnamon will no longer be at risk from dying out but also i am hoping to learn much more about them and how we can protect them. It appears that another colour of Siberian Chipmunk has already gone extinct - The Black. There has been no reports of pure Black Siberian's in the U.K. for years and when looking abroad i couldn't find any there either - lets not have the Cinnamon go the same way!
I also want to try to establish the brand new colours - at present only the normal colour (Agouti) and Dilute White are readily available in the Siberian Chipmunk. Cinnamons have been around in the U.K. like the other two colours for many years but are surprisingly very rare. Piebald, Grey and Fawn which as far as I can tell have only appeared in the last few years will be nice additions to the Siberian Chipmunk colours.
Chirpie the Chipmunk I named Chirpie Chipmunkz Munkery after
Chip and Dale and me at Disneyland Paris 1st February 2009
.Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and Enchanted copyright to Disney.
Alvin and the Chipmunks copyright to Ross Bagdasarian (creater) and 20th Century Fox
Page updated 14th October 2014