The first questions you need to ask yourself before you start breeding Chipmunks is why are you interested in breeding them? and what are you going to do with the babies? Keep? sell? If you are going to keep the babies you are going to need alot of space and extra cages to separate the males and females. If you want to sell you need to ask yourself why. If you plan to make money from them then this is not a good reason. If it's going to be more of a hobby then you will have the time to rear friendly and healthy pets unlike those from a breeder who only cares about making money and not the welfare of the animals kind of like the small animal equivelent of puppy mills. Animals are often kept in filthy cramped conditions where theres overcrowding. Animals in puppy mill like situations will be overbred, they are basically used as machines constantly bred, they may be interbred. This will make them unhealthly and they will have shortened lifespans. Signs of inbreeding can be missing limbs - tail, one or more legs or front paws or eyes or epilepsy especially in Dilute's. They will often be weak too and may not survive long. A good breeder will have enough space to keep the mother and the babies without there being overcrowding. They will also keep the cages clean. Dirty cages can cause respiration problems which are spread from animal to animal in the overcrowded conditions. Chipmunks will fight in these conditions.
Never breed your Chipmunks just because you believe a female should have a litter (female Cats not being happy unless they have had at least one litter before being neutered/missing being a mother once they have had a litter is an old wives tale. If it wasn't for this maybe more people would neuter their Cats (and Dogs for that matter). Also males do not miss their testicles if they are neutered that is also a misconception. Maybe humans would but animals don't miss what they haven't had. Unless you have a good reason for breeding your Chipmunks you should just keep single-sex.
A reputable breeder should care more about the home being a good home than how much they will get for the babies. I do believe that breeders should not give babies away for nothing unless it is someone they trust like I do swap babies from time to time with breeders I trust. But giving animals away is not a good idea as some people are just looking for 'free' pets to use as snake food or for some other sinister reason and if people get an animal free they are probably less likely to care for it and more likely to rehome it later as if they are not prepared to pay money for their animal they probably can't afford its care in the first place or don't much care about looking after it properly (they don't want a pet that will cost them lots of money to look after). so although you should not charge loads you should not give them away either.
Before selling your Chipmunk it is up to you to find out how suitable the new home will be. You should not be afraid to ask as many questions as you like because you bred your animals and if you are a good breeder you will care where they go.
Questions essential to ask- are whether they have owned them before (if not you need to check they have researched their needs. You may need to give them advice on proper care).What size cage/outside aviary they will live in (will it be suitable for the number of Chipmunks they plan to keep). You should ask for photos of the cage/aviary with its dimensions because you can never trust people will have the correct accommodation. I have had some people want to keep Chipmunks in totally unsuitable cages even Rabbit hutches in the garden so it is essential you check the cage is what is needed. You should check if they have other Chipmunks already and if they have plans to breed. As a responsible breeder you should never sell brothers with sisters or other closely related relatives to the same breeder/owner (you don't want there to be inbreeding and not everyone can be trusted to breed responsibly so unless you know and trust the breeder well it is best to only sell one sex to them so they can't be tempted to inbreed. However bad it could get with struggling to sell babies (and trust me sometimes you can be stuck with them for months especially if they are older and boys which don't sell as quickly) you should never give them to a pet shop. Once they are handed over to a pet shop you will have no idea where they will end up. They could be bought as a kid's pet who will later get bored of them or they may be sold to someone else completely unsuitable.
Breeding is not always fun, there is a lot of sadness. You need to be prepared for favourite babies not surviving/getting sick. You also have the hard decision sometimes of selling a well loved baby because you just don't have room for them all. You can sometimes lose the mother and then have to hand-rear the babies or she may reject them. This can be very tough and extremely heart-breaking sometimes.
If you still think breeding might be for you then read on-
The age Chipmunks became sexually mature depends on the time of year they were born. Chipmunks born in the spring will normally breed the next spring. Chipmunks born in the Summer/autumn will breed in the coming spring. So they become mature between 6-12 months of age.
I have found some males born late the previous year may not be ready for the first spring season after they were born, some may take two years to mature enough to breed.
The pics below show how to sex Chips of any ages
18 week old Cinnamon girl (baby girls bits are almost touching)
Four month old Agouti male (only with males will you see a dark or pink dot on the belly area. Males also have quite a large gap between their two openings.
Adult (not in season) Cinnamon female Hazel, no change in look from a baby female.
A female in season (heat/estrus), her bits swell up about twice/three times normal size and can look very pink especially on Dilutes, this can be harder to see on Agouti females. This swelling usually lasts a few days.
Adult Cinnamon male Tiny. Obviously quite a change from a baby male. On Dilutes the testicles are harder to see.
Adult Agouti male Scabbers
Don't be alarmed if this seems very large for such a small animal, its normal. Also it can be quite black on Agouti males also quite normal. Outside of the breeding season the testicles recede, during the breeding season they are very prominant.
To sex babies below
11 day old baby Chipmunks - boy is left and girl right - it can be more difficult to sex babies this young but by the time they reach 3 weeks or older it becomes easy. Basically males will have a larger gap than females do.
The Chipmunk season
The Chipmunk breeding cycle begins in middle of February or more often in March and goes to September. Animals kept indoors often begin sooner, early january time, the earliest litter I know was born right at the start of January which means the parents mated start of December this was indoors. I have found the females are usually ready for breeding before the males, the males do not come into full breeding condition until late january or early february so first matings may not be successful. Once the breeding season begins the female Chipmunks will come in season and they do not hide this. A female in heat will chirp from the highest point in the cage to attract any males in the area. The breeding season is made up of cycles where every 10 days to 14 days the female will come into heat. A female's girl bits swell up a few days before she chirps, on the day she calls they are quite enlarged and pink especially in Dilute's, this will return to normal the day after she calls, The female's heat will last for three days each 10 - 14 days. It is on the second day of the heat that the female is receptive to mating and this is when she will chirp. The day before though she will be of interest to the male Chipmunks (there must be a change in odour they pick up or something but they always know the day before we will know). Although the males may try the female will not usually allow them to breed on the first day and she will chatter angryly at the boys to let them know this, if the male doesn't get the message she will use her paws to push him away, often this ends with the two of them fighting in a ball as the male doesn't back down (this doesn't hurt the Chipmunks it's just to let the male know she is not interested). The second day the female's behaviour will be completely different. She will now be receptive and willing to breed for 24- 48 hours. She now attracts all the males to her by calling to them, each female has an individual chirp sound, some are high pitched, others can be softer but most will chirp the whole day barely stopping. Once the male appears the female usually stops chirping unless he is not interested. Chipmunk courtship is generally short and after a quick chase she will let the male mate her. She will then mate with the male throughout the day many times. The male Chipmunk before mating will approach the female waving his tail slowly side to side and make a sniffing noise. If the male gets bored or tired she will follow him around, roll about in front of him, sniff him and generally appear to be flirting, some females do this more than others. If he still shows no interest she will start chirping again until he gets interested, then they will mate again. Hermione and Bailey even played abit between matings i hadn't seen this before. Eventually the males will have had enough and go off the sleep for as some females will want to mate even after many matings, although not all, some of my females only allow it for an hour first thing in the morning then want nothing to do with the male until much later in the afternoon when they will mate for a short time. If the male loses interest (this hasn't happened much with my males they usually pursuit the female's) the female will get annoyed and may well continue to pursuit the male. If there is more than one male then she will mate with as many of the males as she can, she may pair up with one particular male breed with him and then when he's bored go with another one. This can cause fighting among the males which is why you must never have more males than females, its also likely only the dominant male will breed if there is more tha one male. Sometimes when there are female's coming into season the same time only the dominant female will breed and the sub-ordinate famales will then help care for the dominant female's litter. This happened with Isabella in 2011 when Lottie gave birth, her Sister Isabella even produed milk to help feed Lottie's young even though Isa was not pregnant herself. This could be more likely to happen with closely related female's like Isabella's was Lottie's Sister and the three Sisters Lottie, Isabella and Blossom were very close. Later on Blossom helped as well only she didn't produce milk. In some cases you may get a female who because she may have lost her mate may refuse to live with another male or a female who may be particularly aggressive to others. In these cases hand mating may be necessary (this is where you only put her with a male when she is actually calling) This should always been done carefully as not all females will accept a mate even if calling and she may turn on the male aggressively and be particulary careful when introducing a mate of a different colour to the female as she may attack, although it really depends on the male's reaction to her. This is one of the reasons these animals can be difficult to breed because there will be no guarantee a female will allow a particular male picked out for her to breed or even any male. I've found introducing the female to the male's cage seems to work best, a female can be very territorial of her own space but a male will rarely attack a female in season if put in his cage. If neither option works try neutral territory a cage that isn't either's territory or just letting both out in the same room usually works but sometimes both can be distracted exploring so may take time before they will mate. It is usually safe to leave the pair together overnight, some females can still be receptive next morning but if she seems aggressive next day or has stopped chirping separate them. Probably the best chances of breedings are with unrelated pairs who have been brought up together as they should have a good relationship together. If a male and female are in separate cages next to each other, When the female chirps and the day before, the male will make a sniffing noise to show that he is interested back and swish his tail and on the day the female actually chirps they will show alot of interest in each other and try and get at each other through the cage. (beware they can mate through the bars (the male's penis is actually quite long) if the cages are close enough together I haven't had this happen but somebody did so keep a good distance between the receptive female and any male unless you plan to mate her) The day after the female has stopped chirping she will still be of interest to the males but she will not always allow them to mate with her, chattering angryly and running away. If in separate cages she will stop trying to get to the male. She will no longer be chirping and will stop all her flirty behaviour. (This flirting is similar to female cats in season).
The expecting Chipmunk!
Sometimesfirst matings of the season will prove unsuccessful and the female will come back into season again in 10 - 14 days from the date of the matings. The cycle will then start again. These second matings are more likely to be successful. More often I have found that females get pregnant on their first season of the year, although sometimes males may not be ready to mate that early in the season.
Hermione carrying baby
How to tell she is pregnant?
First of all not all Chipmunks will show obvious signs, she may well give birth and that will be the first you will know about it! Particularly if it is a small litter she could conceal her pregnancy. But if she does chirp when she comes in heat, this is the first sign to look or rather listen out for. Kind of like a missed period in women, the female's cycles will stop and she will not come into season. Usually you will know if she is or isn't 10 - 14 days after the matings. If she starts chirping, she isn't pregnant but if she goes over 2 weeks without chirping then she most likely is pregnant. Not all females will chirp when they are in heat though, some don't when they live with a male so you may not know when her cycles are at all and this is when you can get surprise litters. I had a female (Hazel's and Ginger's mum) who gave birth to a litter but she never chirped once or showed any signs she was expecting, this was a completely unexpected and surprise litter. If the female is expecting 6 or more she usually will look very big/ round by the end of the pregnancy.
Any other signs?
If you suspect your Chipmunk is pregnant look for these early signs within the first week
1. She may become aggressive to the male, quite vicious infact, not letting him near, she may guard her nestbox and food. She may also be aggressive to females. This sign seems common with most pregnant Chipmunks and certainly with a few of mine plus this is usually the very first sign often a few days after mating.
2. She will start nestbuilding, adding extra bedding to nest. She will steal bedding off other Chipmunks. This could start from the first week but may not until later.
3. My females all started scratching alot after mating and this often continued the next few days plus washing alot.
4. She may change behaviour. e.g. Abigail starting using her wheel when pregnant but does not normally. For her this started a few days after mating. At this stage Abigail becomes more active staying out later to collect more food. Most of my females do begin to hoard more food. Some females may start eating odd foods (thanks Nate of Super-Chipmunks for pointing that out). Also it is likely the female will start licking/chewing on her cuttlefish bone and mineral block as she needs extra calcium to start producing milk. It is very important she has constant access to a cuttle bone/mineral block during pregnancy and the nursing period. She should also be given some scrambled/boiled egg and some cooked chicken or other meat for extra protein throughout this period.
Most physical signs will not appear until the third week. Between the second and third week her nipples should start to become visible/more pink and at this point she may start gaining weight. Most weight gain happens during the final week of pregnancy - usually about 24 days. Usually the last two/three days of pregnancy she will rapidly gain weight. By then all her nipples should be very prominent. The final week she will be a lot more tired and probably spending lots of time in the nest box. She will often stretch out a lot and yawn. The day before the birth it can be possible to see the babies moving around in her tummy if she is having a large litter.
The day of the birth she may be in her nest box or she may be very restless and be running around up until an hour before the babies arrive, all females act differently. When she feels it is time she will sit ready in the nest and may scrape a lot trying to get into a good position.
The actual birth happens quite quickly, the babies should be born within an hour, although it can be up to 2 hours. You may hear the babies arrive they should squeak as the mother cleans them up. Once the babies have all arrived it may go quiet as they feed but generally you should hear regular squeaks from the babies each time she moves them around or they squabble over feeding positions.
Should the male stay in the same cage?
Some females are fine with the male being left in especially if housed in a large cage or aviary. If she lives with a male partner then it is usually fine to leave him in the cage with her as he will not usually harm the litter and may actually help the female with rearing unlike a male in the wild, although some females may not tolerate the male in the cage at all and be aggressive to him in which case removal of the male is best and some males can kill babies so there is a risk there. Other mother's in the same cage have been known to attack or kill another's mother's babies so be very careful having more than one mum living in the same cage or aviary. In some cases another mother might try to steal the babies or even another female might steal the babies (more likely if it a female who has recently lost a litter) or male in some cases. If it is suspected the mother is stressed by another mother or female or male in the cage then its best to separate her or she may eat her litter.
I had a curious case that when Lottie gave birth her sister also was feeding Lottie's babies and caring for them, a few times Isabella would move them around. She acted just like they were hers and at one time she was mainly feeding them but then Lottie got control back and claimed them back but Isabella still fed them and looked after them. Isabella didn't have her own babies but she produced milk so she was either pregnant and aborted i guess because she saw Lottie's as hers or she somehow produced milk without being pregnant which has been known in Meerkat's before. Either way the babies saw both Lottie and Isabella as mum. The third sister Blossom at first wasn't interested in the litter at all but after the babies were about one month old she would also pick the babies up as they started to wander from the nest and return to the nestbox just like Lottie and Isabella also did but Blossom never produced milk. Either way it was lovely to see this little family all take care of the babies.
Hermione 31 days pregnant (the day she gave birth) - her large belly can clearly be seen
Above is a picture of what the females teats (8) will look like after the babies have fed.
The pregnancy will last approx 31-32 days but can be as early as 28 days or as late as 35 days. The babies can be born at any time but I have usually found early morning and afternoon is the most likely with my female's The day before you may not see the female as she gets ready for birth but often she is around first thing in the morning if it is a later birth. Squeaking will be the first sign that the babies have arrived and they will continue squeaking for their first 2 weeks. The female will most likely stay in the box for the first 24 - 48 hours (she will have food in the box she can eat for the first few days) then she will come out get something to eat and have a drink. Tamer females tend to leave their young the day they are born to get some food but they will never leave them for long. For the first few days up to the first week she will hardly leave her babies. The female may not allow the male to sleep in the box for the first few days but then she may allow him access to the babies after a few days, some females may keep the male out right up until the babies begin to leave the nestbox other females are happy for him to sleep in the same nest the day of birth it will depend on the individual female but having another nest prepared for the male is a good idea. You will notice her teats will now look dark pink/reddish a sign the babies have been suckling, after time the fur falls out around them making them more prominant and helping the babies to suckle easier. Mother Chipmunks should not be disturbed for the first few days unless the Mother is very trusting of you and experienced and if you do check on them you must be careful to keep touch of the babies to a minimum for the first week and to leave the nest as the mum left it. It's best to not check on them more than once a day. You may well hear them squeaking, very often babies are very noisy and squeak often when feeding and being groomed by the Mother. Hermione's squeaked alot for the first week, day and night. They will squeak when you disturb them and this will attract the mother and this could cause some Mothers to move or even kill their babies. It really depends on your relationship with the mother whether she will like her babies handled.Personally I have never had a Mother attack her young after they have been handled. Handling from birth is not necessary the most crucial period for handling seems to be from 4 weeks onwards, if they are not handled after that age they will likely never allow it. Once the babies near one week old they will squeak but will also start making more adult sounds, you will still hear movement in the box of them moving the bedding and maybe tiny squeaks every so often. Once the babies reach two weeks when disturbed in the nest they will start jumping and opening their mouths and making alot of angry noises as they are unsure what is touching them. The first time you handle them keep it to the bare minimum only just checking they are feeding ok (milkband if they are not fully furred) and sexing them. Babies are so vulnerable from getting cold while they are furless they cannot regulate their own body temperature which is why I don't handle them for longer than 5 minutes at this age. As the babies get older I gradually increase the time they are handled until I am handling them for an hour at 4 weeks old.
After 4 weeks you want to spend as much time as you can handling and interacting with the babies, very shy babies can often be somewhat tamed by the time they are ready for new homes after 8 weeks old but may not be as friendly/happy to be handled as babies that are more confident.
You should really be able to confidently sex the babies before homing them, you don't want to be unsure on the day and accidently sell a brother and sister together. It may also be a good idea to get the babies used to being not just picked up so you can catch them easier but also to being shut in carriers/being caught in a net for short periods so they won't freak out on the day they are collected by their new owners.
Development of the babies
The babies will be born blind, hairless and deaf they are completely helpless and fully dependant on their Mother, they can barely crawl at that age. Dilute White's will be pink all over with very pale eyes and no nose stripe while Agouti will have a black stripe on the nose and dark eyes and a hint of grey on the head which over the next few days darkens considerably. Any Cinnamon babies will not have the grey hint to the head, sometimes they are not really distinguishable from Dilutes just being completely pink but sometimes they will have a slight brown tinge to their head and a slight mark on the nose. Gradually their heads will darken too but not as dark as an Agouti they will be a light brown colour before the golden fur starts coming in.
By the time they are a week old stripes will start to appear on their backs . If the babies are white they will remain pink while Agouti and Cinnamon Chipmunks will get stripes. Fur will start coming through about 4 days and by two weeks this will be coming through thicker. They have tiny whiskers and claws from birth, the ears are tight against the head at birth, by a few days old the ears are beginning to stand up but do not open until about 3 weeks of age. The babies begin to get more active by 2 weeks of age, by three weeks they are getting quite good at climbing up my arm even with their eyes closed and they are beginning to walk shakily.The young should be fully furred by 18-21 days but will still have their eyes closed, their ears will be opening and at first they can be very jumpy to any sounds. Dilute White's develop their stripes later than Agouti/Cinnamon Chipmunks by their second week, at first the stripes look almost transparent, Dilutes can look very glossy at this age. Their tails start looking more adult and start fluffing by four weeks of age. Eyes can open as soon as 23 days old but this can be as late as 28-30 days old. Often one eye will open a day before the other don't worry this is normal, when they first open their eyes they often keep them closed quite abit I suppose it is the being in darkness for three weeks that makes the eyes very sensitive to light when they first open. Once the eyes are fully open babies usually begin exploring their surroundings and they can be very quick even at this age and they start nibbling their first solid food. They begin to leave the nest at 28-35 days of age. The babies can go through a nervous stage when they leave the nest, hiding a lot when you enter the aviary and trying to jump out of your hand when you pick them up, sometimes this stage can last a few weeks or just a day or two depending on how confident the babies are and how much handling they had in their early weeks. Once they begin to trust again they will quickly tame down again. Babies begin to wean from 4 weeks and will be fully weaned from mum between 6 - 7 1/2 weeks. Some wean just after 6 weeks but others i've seen still suckling from mum at 7 1/2 weeks and this is why my babies do not leave their mum until at least 8 weeks. If taken away from mum too soon before the mother's milk has fully dried up her teats can develop Mastitis which is a serious and painful infection. They are also still learning from their mother up to 8 weeks, she will still be showing them what to eat, how to drink from a water bottle and how to prepare nests, in short how to be Chipmunks!. It's best they are not removed until they are 8 weeks or older, by now they will be very active and will be behaving much more like adults. Enjoy the baby stage because it is over so fast, by the time the babies are 4 weeks they are very much tiny adults and pretty soon after that the babies are fully dependant and will be leaving home. Babies start mimicking adult behaviour quickly, at five weeks they begin dominance mounting and practise mating, they also begin to learn the proper technique for hoarding food, I've seen babies pouching food before their eyes open so some behaviour is instinct not learn't. Babies can play quite rough with their siblings and parents, at first this is just play but by 8 weeks they will be learning how to dominant each other and by 6 months more serious behaviour like fighting can occur. Generally babies can stay together with their parents up to 10 months after birth, remember to split the boys and girls up before January the next year latest or they may reproduce with each other or even their parents. You may also find that the Dad turns aggressive to his Son's as they near sexual maturaty. If the Mother has a second litter she may also change how she acts with her previous young as her new young become her main priority and her previous litter could then be a threat in her eyes to her new litter. The siblings could also turn against each other or their parents as they near maturaty.
The main peaks of the breeding season are in Feb and March (for young born in March and April) and June and July (for babies in July and August). My earliest litter so far was born 8th feb 2014 and the latest litter to be born so far was 2nd September 2013.
The pictures below follow step by step the development of each colour:
All grown up : )
A second litter?
Often if the Mother is still living with her mate she will have a second litter of babies later the same year. These second litters are often smaller in number than the Spring litter and are often born June, July or August time. Second litters may not always be in the Mother's best interests, it takes a lot out on the Mother raising usually 4-6 babies and if she has particularly had a large litter 7 or more or has struggled with her previous litter it might be better to let her have a break until the next Spring. Second broods are more likely to happen if her previous litter has been weaned and have gone to their new homes but it has been known for a Mother to get pregnant again while her previous litter are still with her, I think 7 weeks is the youngest the babies have been when a Mother has given birth again. The new babies can suffer if there is an early cold snap if they are in an outside enclosure. If possible try and only allow your female to have babies once a year or if she does have a second litter the same year perhaps give her a break from another litter the coming Spring.
If the Chipmunks are housed indoors then they could breed all year round and have three litters a year this is not unknown but not very common with Chipmunks. This should not be allowed as the female will not have enough time to regain her condition and her breeding life will be shortened and her lifespan will be shortened if she continues to have two or three litters each year with no break. I aim to give my females a break after every 2-3 litters, mine normally just have the one litter a year which is probably just as well since we have a lot of Chipmunks and would be overrun by babies. The retiring age is about 6 years for females but if she has regularly had two litters every year I'd suggest retiring her sooner at 4 1/2 years. Males can sometimes breed their whole life but you may find as they get past 6 years old they may not be as fertile or have become completely infertile.
I have more photos and videos of the Chipmunks and babies on: http://s677.photobucket.com/albums/vv139/chirpiechipmunkz/
Sometimes Chipmunks might not produce young and there could be several reasons for this:
1. one or both partners are too young. they won't breed if they are not old enough
2. one or both partners might be infertile. It would be rare for both to be infertile.
3. cage size appears to be very important, some Chipmunks may not breed so well in smaller indoor cages.
4. high frequency of the television especially the Cathrode Ray Tube sets might prevent breeding because Chipmunks can be sensitive to it. You should not have them in the same room as those type of TV's.
5. other animals in the house/especially the same room might disturb breeding.
6. the day length and climate will be a factor especially with outdoor animals, it is usually when the days lengthen that Chipmunk's sense Spring is coming and come into season. Indoor Chips will be aware of this, they seem to be tuned to what is happening outside even if kept indoors, hense some indoor Chipmunks go into topor on even hibernate even if the house is warm ect because they know that Winter is coming.
7. It has been reported that access to extended light can actually disrupt breeding in Chipmunks possibly because it confuses their body clock and could cause infertility. For best breeding success turn off lights where the Chips are kept when it gets dark to mimic outside light. Chips don't need light at night anyway, if they wake up they seem to be able to get around quite well. Probably best to also keep disturbances down while the Chips are sleeping like turn down any Tv's, music and try and not to walk by the Chips too much. They can be very light sleepers, the slightest noise has woken mine before, if this happens they normally poke their head out of the nestbox to see what has woken them then go back to sleep.
Generally Chipmunks are very good breeders if the conditions are right and they are well looked after with a good diet and plenty of space and not overcrowding or stressful conditions.
Genetics in Chipmunks
The Agouti (normal wild-type) colour is dominant while other colours such as the Dilute White are recessive. This means that one colour will appear in the young and not the other, this is the dominant colour. For example:
If a Dilute White was bred with an Agouti all the resulting young will be Agouti as this is the dominant gene. If these youngsters are then bred together there will be 75% Agouti and 25% Dilute young in the litter. If one of the youngsters was bred back to the Dilute parent the resulting litter will be 50% Agouti and 50% Dilute White. The first cross is known as F1 (first generation).This also applies to a Cinnamon and an Agouti. The Cinnamon has a recessive gene like the Dilute.
An Agouti can be "split" so that it carries the genes for another colour such as Dilute, this is known as a carrier. If the Agouti "carrier" was then bred to another Agouti "carrier" individual which is carrying the same colour, this colour can then appear in the resulting young. The ''carried'' colour is masked so the parents will not look that colour at all but will carry the genes for the colour in their bloodline. The resulting litter is likely to be half of each colour. This happened with Asriel's parents, both were Agouti but as they had four Dilute babies which included Asriel plus four Agouti babies they must have both been "carriers" for the Dilute gene. Hermione too had Agouti parents but she is Dilute as was some of her siblings, the rest were Agouti. Bailey and Nugget had another Cinnamon brother and two Agouti brothers and one Agouti sister but their parents were Agouti so they must have been Cinnamon ''carriers''.
I have bred lots of mixed Dilute/Agouti and Agouti/Cinnamon litters and generally the Agouti gene out-numbers the recessive gene in a litter but not always, I have had on a few occasions 100% Dilute to a Dilute and an Agouti Dilute carrier and 100% Cinnamon litters to an Agouti Cinnamon carrier and a Cinnamon. It seems if one parent is the recessive colour and the other is a carrier of that colou it is more likely they could breed 100% of the recessive colour.
Unless the Agouti parents carry a recessive gene for another colour so are "carriers" all their youngsters will always be Agouti the same with two Dilute parents they will always have Dilute babies and Cinnamon with another Cinnamon will always have Cinnamon. Unless those Dilutes or Cinnamons happen to be both split for another colour. There doesn't seem to be any limit to how many colours they could carry so if you have Dilute, Cinn or Agouti parents carrying multiple colours you could really get anything.
What Happens if Cinnamon and Dilute (two recessive genes) are bred together?:
Heres where i don't know. I feel they may combine eventually to produce a new colour but most likely this wouldn't happen until later generations. I'm using Hamster genetics as there are many more colours available in Hamsters and most can be bred together. It seems by breeding two recessive Hamster colours together that first cross will produce the original Agouti or Golden Hamster (wild type). These Golden's will carry both recessive genes of their parents and if you then breed a brother and sister together they are then able to have Goldens, recessive colour 1 and recessive colour 2 and a 'new combined' colour from the two recessive genes from the parents. So i'm guessing this would be the same with Chipmunks so a Dilute and Cinnamon mating would first generation produce Agouti (wild type) colour. (that is what I have experienced when breeding them together) These Agoutis will then be 'carrying' both Dilute and Cinnamon and if bred together can then produce Agouti, Dilute, Cinnamon (not necessary in the same litter) and possibly a new colour (cross of Dilute and Cinnamon).
This year I bought a Cinnamon baby bred from a Cinnamon and Dilute cross. I am interested to see if he now carries the Dilute gene. I also have a Dilute male I got in 2012 who was born into a litter with Cinnamons (his parents were a Fawn Cinnamon and a Agouti Cinnamon/Dilute carrier.) the carrier was bred from one of my Cinnamon/Dilute crosses. I have yet to bred this Dilute male to a Cinnamon but hope to soon because if me and his breeder have things right it should be possible to get pure Cinnamon litters from him. If the Cinnamon female bred to him doesn't carry Dilute.
I have been doing lots of research into this, I do now think there is a way to get around the Dilutes and Cinnamons being bred together just having 100% Agouti babies, this could be the breakthrough we need to strengthen the weakened Cinnamon gene and hopefully keep it going for ever but I need to prove my theory so until I've done that or heard from someone who has done just that I can't say it will be the answer.
Something has gone wrong..
Chipmunks usually give birth without any trouble at all but like all animals there is always the possibilty that a baby Chipmunks may need handrearing for some reason, the mum might have abandoned them, may have too many to cope with, may not be feeding them well enough or it may be the runt of the litter and be weak. Some basic information on hand rearing. I am by no means an expert I have hand-reared a few babies now that have lost their mother. Once you start handrearing the Chipmunk it will probably not be able to be returned to its mother as she will most likely kill it, unless she is very used to you she will not accept human scent on her babies. Supplement feeding is less involved than hand-rearing (supplement feeding is where you give a couple of extra feeds a day but largely let the mother feed and care for them). This is beneficial if the litter is large (8 or more). Basically hand-rearing is the same as supplement feeding but if you hand-rear you become the babies's mother and have to feed it every few hours day and night.
Expert advise should be sort before attempting to hand rear any animal. The Squirrel Board would be a good place to look for information as the rehabbers often handrear baby Squirrels and can advice you on formula and syringe size and the proper way to feed. Proper hand-rearing is hard and quite often babies don't survive, its not be taken on lightly you will have to feed the babies every 2-3 hours day and also into the night and they have to be kept warm at all times and toileted. There is a chance if you have another Chipmunk mother that has babies of a similar age and you introduce them carefully and not too many that you could foster some of them onto her by rubbing the babies in the bedding of her litter and making them smell the same but if this isn't possible or that mother already has a large litter herself or rejects the babies then hand-rearing is the best option.
For Chipmunk's you are best to use a formula called Lactol. If you can't get Lactol, Goat's milk can be used (never Cows milk or human baby formulas. These types of milk do not have enough fat in it to be nutricious enough for a baby Chipmunk and Chipmunks cannot digest the lactose in cows milk so it can make them very unwell. In the U.S there is a formula specially made for Squirrels called Fox Valley Squirrel formula so if you can get that, it is probably going to be the closest to a mother Chipmunk's milk. I got the Goat's milk recipe from The Squirrel Board but i changed it slightly since i couldn't get exactly the same in the U.K. so i mixed 1 cup of whole Goat's milk with 1/4 cup of Double Cream and about 5 teaspoons of a thick creamy yoghurt. Once made up the formula lasts for 72 hours. Lactol comes in a powder and needs mixing with water, once made it can be kept in the fridge 24 hours. If you are feeding babies over 4 weeks old Goat's milk is adequate, if the babies are new born or younger than 4 weeks you should really use a proper small animal formula so there will be the added vitamins and minerals. You will also need a syringe, cotton buds, a heat pad and somewhere to house it while being handreared. I have used an eye dropper or 1cc (1 ml) syringe with nipple and for very tiny babies (under 2 weeks old I used a fine paintbrush). whatever you use you need to sterilise it and feed very slowly. With Pinkies (babies under 2 weeks old) you should let them lick the milk from the end of the feeding tool rather than put it into their mouth so they are less likely to get it into their lungs.
First before feeding make sure the baby Chipmunk is warm if it has been abandoned it may be cold, The Squirrel Board says it is dangerious to feed a cold baby Squirrel so first warm the baby Chippie. I think if the baby is dehydrated after warming the baby the first feeding should be Pedialyte (you can make it yourself with a cup of warm water, three tablespoons of Sugar and one teaspoon of Salt, administer in a syringe/eye dropper same way as with formula). To feed start by picking up the Chipmunk in some fleece and feeding it milk off your fingers until it gets the taste, then introduce it to the syringe (place a teat on the end) You need a very small syringe smaller than 1cc if possible otherwise the Chipmunk could aspirate. I'm not really sure how much formula they should have each feed need to check but i just fed mine until they refused but these babies were about a month old. (care must be taken that the Chipmunk doesn't feed too quick so that bubbles appear in its nose, this means the formula is going into the lungs). Feeding too fast can result in the baby aspiratating. If this does happen very gently hold upside down to clear the lungs but if the baby has aspirated it will need anti-biotics or it will get pneumonia and won't live. Always fed very slowly and if a Pinkie (a baby without fur and eyes closed) hold the baby upright and have the syringe slightly pointing downwards. If a baby who has eyes open you can either hold the same way or have the baby lying on its belly. Warm the formula never feed cold formula, don't warm in a microwave (put formula in a cup and hot water (not boiling) in a bowl, put cup inside bowl.) and never mix pedialyte with formula. Weigh the babies before and after every feeding and keep a record of all their weights. Once the baby Chipmunk has fed gently rub its belly to help it digest the formula and lightly tap it's back a few times just incase it has swallowed any air while feeding it will then need 'toileting'. This is what the cotton bud is for (baby Chipmunks cannot go to the loo themselves so need stimulating to go , the mum normally does this by licking the anal areas). Wet the cottonbud with warm water and gently rub it over the Chipmunk's belly and anal openings, this should stimulate it to go to the toilet. Use a different side of the cotton bud for each opening. Each baby needs a clean cotton bud. Once this is done clean the Chippy's bottom and place on fleece or old tee-shirt and use another piece of fleece or tee-shirt to cover the baby (don't use towels they can get caught in them) in a box, (not cardboard) or cage with the heat pad underneath, the heat pad should only be under half of the box so that the Chipmunk can move away if it is getting to hot and won't burn itself. The babies need stimulating to go to the toilet until about a week after their eyes open then they will start to do it themselves. The little Chipmunks will need feeding day and night every two-three hours until it is about two weeks old, then feed every three 1/2 hours until 4 weeks old then the night feeds can be dropped. Once babies reach 5 weeks three feeds a day should be enough provided they are not weak and are eating solid food well. Weaning starts about 5 weeks, for weaning you can start by mixing baby food or porrage with the formula in a bowl, or many babies enjoy some scrambled egg with some cream added. Solid food can then be introduced gradually until the Chipmunk is eating properly normally by six weeks but it doesn't hurt to keep the baby longer on formula if it will accept it. Fruit and veg needs to be cut up very small and grapes cut in half and peeled. Keep an eye on the litter if any of the boys penises are looking sore they may be getting suckled which means the babies are hungry and need feeding more often, they can mistake it for a nipple and this can cause infection for the poor males.
Once babies reach 4 weeks old they won't need a heat - pad, instead they can be given some soft pet bedding or kitchen roll so they can learn to build their own nests. Now is the time to introduce a water bottle. By now the babies will be starting to climb so you may want to introduce them to a small cage (a Hamster cage is ideal to start with).
Once the babies are fully weaned approx. 8 weeks old they could then go into a larger cage but will probably be fine in the Hamster cage until they go to new homes.
If the mother Chipmunk has any complications giving birth (if she hasn't delivered all her babies after 2 hours) then she must be taken to the vet to save her and her babies. As the mother Chipmunk will hide herself away when giving birth this is more difficult to notice, listen out for the squeaks of the newborn Chips. Generally Chipmunks will need no assistance at all. Female's that are small in size or have had damage to their pelvis should not be bred from as the birth canal is narrowed making birth difficult or impossible.
In the worst case if the mother dies you should still try to save the babies, the vet will be able to give the mother a C section to deliver the babies.
Updated 1st July 2014