Pearl eating peanut
Now you know what a Chipmunk is how do you look after one?
Well the first thing to know about Chipmunks is they are different to Hamsters and other Rodents. A mistake lots of people make with these animals is treating them like a Hamster, this includes the cage they keep them in and the diet they are fed and how they handle the Chipmunk. Many pet shops will also give out completely wrong information and new owners would believe this information will be correct since the Chipmunk is a Rodent same as a Hamster or Gerbil. Chipmunks are Exotic Rodents for a reason, treating one like a Hamster is going to end up with it living in a cage far too small, feeding it an incomplete or completely unsuitable diet devoid of Calcium and going to cause stress by the owner and their children trying to handle it the same way they would a Hamster.
It is important that new owners do their research, when I got Chipmunks there was not much information out there on how to properly care for these animals so this led to me creating this website.Chipmunks do not make a good first pet for a child or a nice pet for Children in general. They can bite hard, hate sudden movements which can frighten them, are very quick and they are also not very cuddly. Chipmunks are not suited to children younger than teenage. I don't feel that many younger children would be able to look after these animals correctly. Chipmunks are always under your feet making it easy to accidentally step on them or injure them in some way, the tails are also so vulnerable and kids often grab at animals tails, if they do this to a Chipmunk it will shed its tail. And the diet is not something you could expect kids to get correct.
Abigail with apple (remove the pips)
What type of accommodation do Chipmunks need?
Chipmunks need space so a Hamster cage will not make a suitable home. They should never be housed in aquariums either as they need to climb. With Chipmunks the more space you can give them the better. There is not a big choice of Chipmunk cages available to buy. For Chipmunks bigger is better really. For a single Chipmunk the minium dimentions should be at least 5 foot high by at least 2 foot width and 3 1/2 foot length (Height is the most important, cages that a longer than taller are not suitable for these animals) one Chipmunk will be very happy in this size cage and will never be lonely as Chipmunks are natually solitary, as with all animals they are social when young. For a pair you really need bigger at least taller. You can buy cages with lots of levels which are tall and these are a good size for a Chipmunk but its best that the levels are removed to allow maximum space for the Chipmunks to dart around. One or two levels can be left as Chipmunks do like shelves but too many levels would restrict the Chipmunks space to move around. Large bird cages make good homes too but these can be expensive and you should check the size of the bars that they are not too wide for Chipmunks. You can make your own cage. When making a cage it's important to remember that a Chipmunk is a rodent so any exposed wood will be gnawed. The cage will need to have a wire bottom to it with a removable tray for easy cleaning. Another thing to remember about Chipmunks is they are great at escaping so something to bare in mind when you site the cage. Chipmunks love shelves so the cage should have at least one of these.
The cage above is almost 6 foot high (175cm tall). Length is about 3 1/2 foot (103cm long) and the width is about 1 1/2 foot (46cm wide). This is a excellent size for a single Chipmunk and is also a good size for two Chipmunks.
Here are some more cages:
the cage above is in use again I did some temperary repairs on it which will hopefully last for a while longer. This cage is a good size, great for a single Chippie or a pair if they get along. It was a well built cage but if it has faults it is that the wood back would of better if covered with mesh or just wired. They have chewed that (not right through yet) but I have to keep a watch on it and it is also not the easiest to clean. Also there was other exposed wood which got chewed. All the wood should of been covered with mesh but my Grandad who didn't really know about Chipmunks I think did a good job. The position of the door doesn't make it the easiest cage to access, the door would of been better as a lower door or the whole side panel being a door. Things that I think were a good idea was having a small side door which I could use to put a food bowl in (without opening the main door, this helped prevent escapes but we found they chewed the shelf which the bowl went on so now we have no shelf until a new one can be made so for now that door isn't in use). Also having the mesh bottom with a slide out tray has made it easy to clean the cage.
The other cages are Bird cages. The very end one on the left is ours the other two were actually some Chipmunks I was looking after for a friend so its her cages. These cages are good, two are smaller than ideal (that's including our one) but the one on the right which I have another photo of below is a good size I think, it would be better if it was taller but width and length size is about right. This can house a single Chipmunk, in this case it has two females living in it and they get along fine and have lots of out of cage time. Both the owner's cages have been well fitted out with things to keep them entertained and I got some great ideas myself to do some improvements to my Cages. These cages have lots or doors on each side including some big ones so there is lots of access into the cage and you can use a small door to put a bowl on a shelf. Cleaning isn't the easiest, you need to use the big doors to put in new floor covering because the trays tend to be difficult to remove and the gap between the top tray and the second tray under that one can allow Chippies to escape. The second tray is there I think to stop that but Chips are so tiny it doesn't take much gap for them to get out so if using this type of cage check the metal cover (which goes over the gap at the front of the cage is secured). The bar spacing is good I've had no trouble with them escaping. I would say on my cage it has verticle bars on two sides, these can make it harder for Chipmunks to climb up them, horizontal bars are much better. The roof can be a problem, we found we had to remove the roof to get the biggest Bird cage in our house because it was too wide to get through the doors. Having the cage on a stand is good this prevents drafts and also means you could keep things under the cage to keep the room tidier. Overall I think they make good cages but as said already some are not very tall. You could always get a second-hand cage on places like Preloved, our one was second hand but still in very good condition, quite often people have similar cages for sale so worth a look. Ebay might be another place to try for cages. Something to take note: lots of cages sold for Chipmunks especially second-hand cages are too small. Many people think Hamster cages or similar size small cages are suitable for these animals that is wrong.
Here is a closer picture of the bigger Bird cage:
And our Bird cage which currently has one Chippie in my old girl Abi. I hope to add some shelves in there to make it more easier for her to get around. She used to be in the tall wooden cage but she was finding it was too high for her she doesn't have very good climbing ability. This cage is just over 5 foot high (160cm) with the stand. Without the stand it is just over 4 foot high (137cm). The length is just over 2 foot (66cm) and the width is just under 2 foot (57cm). When I first got this cage I thought it would be a good height for my young male Chippie but I quickly found it was too small for him. The height lets it down, my male quickly got so bored in this cage, her could get from the bottom to the top so quickly and he became too hyperactive for it so I needed to move him into something bigger and put my calm old female in here. For her though an old girl with poor movement in one leg this cage is difficult for her, she cannot climb very well anymore so I think I will put her in a less tall cage and use this one for one of my expectant Mother's. This cage should be fine for the new Mother until her babies are 4 weeks old and can move into one of the aviaries outside.
You can also keep Chipmunks outdoors, again these cages (Aviaries) cannot be bought especially for Chipmunks, they can be adapted from bird aviaries (which ours was bought from http://www.riversideaviaries.co.uk/aviaries.htm ) or again you can build your own. They are best built with wooden framing with a strong wired mesh. As the cage will be outside weather conditions and wild animals will need to be taken into account. The cage will need to built on a concrete floor or have a wired bottom so the Chipmunks can not dig out or wild animals can not burrow in. All around the outside of the cage you will need a layer of bricks or wood or plastic on the lower half of the avairies and whole north side to protect the Chipmunks from the worst of the weather and also to keep all the wood chips and compost in. Remember any exposed wood or plastic could be chewed so put mesh over it. The roof will need to be covered to protect them from the weather aswell. Metal roofs will get hot from the sun so these are not good for Chipmunks. Plastic roofs have been used on alot of aviaries and i've not heard any complaints or you could use a waterproof roof like you use for sheds using wood and felt we tried this with a flat roof and have found it was leaking since the snow/ice so if you use this method the roof is best being built slanted to keep the rain off and snow. A double door will be essential to prevent escapes. Most escapes from outside aviaries are caused by owners not having a safety porch entrance, Chipmunks are very quick you mustn't underestimate them. The Chipmunks will need frost proof nest boxes to sleep in and these need to be at the same height to prevent fighting over the heighest box. You might decide to attach a shed to the aviary for them to sleep in and get out of the worst of the weather or to build something like we have - a large wooden box in which we then fill with hay and the nestboxes for the Chipmunks to sleep in. Outside Chipmunks rarely fully hibernate and heating is not required as long as their nest boxes are warm. It would be best to build another small cage inside the shed that the Chipmunks can use and have nest boxes at the same height in here. Remember to cover all exposed wood leading to the outside with mesh. Chipmunks have been known to chew out of aviaries. The size of the mesh is important, mesh larger than 1 cm square can allow baby chipmunks to escape and wild mice to get in, go for galvanished as it will last longer. Double-meshing is best as this stops cats clawing at the Chipmunks, this means adding mesh to both sides of the wooden frames. Protect the wood with a preservative as the wood will quickly rot if exposed to heavy rain. This will need repainting yearly to keep the aviary protected from the bad weather. Many owners also like to paint both sides of the mesh with Blackboard paint, this helps improve the visabilty of the Chipmunks through the double-mesh. As what to put in the aviary, the floor is best to have bark clippings or compost quite abit deep as Chipmunks love to dig and will make tunnels in this like they do in the wild. If you don't want your Chipmunks to tunnel deep underground (if they do this it can make getting at them or their babies impossible) then provide a large tub with some compost in for them . You could plant small trees which they will climb on but care must be taken to ensure they are not poisonous, conifors are a good idea as they would find these in the wild but don't use Yew as this is said to be poisonous or light green and golden coloured firs and conifors. Chipmunks like flowers but again many are poisonous so care will need to be taken, they will plant alot of their own plants by burying seeds they do not eat. Shelves and wheels will be loved by Chipmunks indoors or out, you could add tubes and tunnels, ropes to climb on, lots of different toys as long as it isn't too much. Chipmunks like sunbatheing so you may like to keep some of the roof uncovered for this but White Chipmunks can easily get sunburnt so restricting their access to sun is the best prevention. All Chipmunks will need access to sun (not necessarly direct) for at least an hour a day whether real sun or artifical so they can get natural Vitamin D3. A plastic roof will mean your Chipmunks can get access to the sun they need but shouldn't be as strong as leaving the mesh roof uncovered. Ensure there is plenty of shade. Indoor Chipmunks can be given a Full Spectrum Light the type for Reptiles, if not Full Spectrum it will not provide the Vit D3 Chipmunks need which you get in natural sunlight. Full Specrum Reptile lights need replacing yearly, the Vitamin D3 runs out in a year, the light will work for longer but it won't be effective for Vit D3 after a year. If you do not have a Full Spectrum Light your Chipmunks will rely on its diet only for its Vitamin D.
Our outside Chipmunkery
What type of floor covering and bedding should you have?
For outside enclosures compost or bark chippings are best but for inside cages wood shavings or wood based cat litter is best. You should never use sawdust as the fine dust can irritate their eyes and cause breathing problems. Ensure the cat litter doesn't contain chemicals. The best bedding for the nest boxes is good quality hay or a paper based bedding suitable for hamsters and other small rodents. You should avoid the type of cotton wool bedding that can be bought in pet shops as this can get stuck in the pouches or wrapped around the limbs of Chippies but may be ok if torn into tiny pieces. Chipmunks will also collect other things such as leaves for bedding if available. I find mine also appreciate tissues which they tear up and shreaded plain paper (no ink) and they will chew cardboard tubes to add to the bed aswell.
Our Chipmunkery has bark chips for the floor with some compost as Chipmunks do love to dig
Cleaning out your Chipmunks?
Indoor Chipmunks will need cleaning out once a week, changing the tray contents at the bottom, cleaning their food bowl, scraping and disinfecting shelves which some Chipmunks use for the bathroom, cleaning all their toys and keeping their toilet areas clean (this will need to be done more frequent depending on where they use as a toilet). Some Chipmunks will use a litter tray which makes cleaning easier but some will use a spare nest box and those can be hard to clean. Nest boxes the Chipmunks are sleeping in only need changing three times a year and especially just after a litter has been weaned. Chipmunks are clean in their nests and never soil them but old stored food will need clearing when the boxes are changed, replace the food cache with some new food Chipmunks hate their stores disturbed and will get very upset with you if they discover their food store has gone. Twice a year it's a good idea to give the cage a thorough scrubbing with a pet disinfect including all the wire.
With pregnant Chipmunks i clean the cage out a week before she is due then don't touch it again until the litter are two weeks old, then i clean it every two weeks after. Some females can get nervous of their cage being messed with so near to birth or when they have babies.
Outdoor cages don't need cleaning as often, the toilet areas need regular cleaning at least once a week and more frequently depending on the number of Chipmunks you have in the enclosure to prevent flies laying eggs which could become maggots and eat the Chipmunks known as fly strike (a litter tray can be used in a corner) any other areas used as toilets such as shelves and nest boxes must also be cleaned often, these will quickly rot and smell and may need replacing often. Food bowls need cleaning weekly, remove any uneaten fruits/veg daily. The toys will need cleaning a few times a year. Nest boxes can be changed twice a year (avoid from july/august as Chipmunks are storing food for winter and autumn and winter when they may be hibernating. If a female has weaned a litter the nestbox needs to be changed. For outdoor Chipmunks change their bedding once spring arrives as over winter it will get musty, food the chips have stored may begin to rot. This way they will have clean nests for rearing babies. Provide extra bedding all through the winter especially once the frosts arrive as they will need to keep warm at night. Dominant animals will often take the best food and bedding for themselves and can steal off less dominant Chipmunks, leaving them without any bedding so in winter be especially aware of this. You may find the dominant female has all the bedding! i found this with Abigail, she left Bailey with nothing he barely had a scrap in his box so i gave him more or he might of freezed to death luckly it happened in autumn not winter. Same with food one may take all the food or the best parts of the food so its best to provide plenty, Chipmunks are also more likely to fight in autumn and winter especially over food and food caches so ensure all the Chipmunks have enough to eat and all have extra to store. It may be a good idea to give more nuts at this time of the year so they can put on extra weight to get through the hardest nights. Most Chipmunks will stuff their nestboxes almost full of bedding, seeds and nuts, there is hardly room for the Chipmunks but they find a way to squeeze in! You will want to give the entire enclosure including all the toys a thorough scrub twice a year, the wood chips should be changed yearly i avoid doing this in winter as they will store food in the wood chips. I change mine in the spring before they have their first babies. It's best to use hot water and pet disinfect to kill any bacteria.
Blossom in the Living World wheel
Do Chipmunk's like toys?
Yes but as for toys in the cage you wouldn't want too many because that will take up space they need to run around. For my Chipmunks i give them a wheel, a ferret tunnel and branches to climb on, rope and shelves. They seem to love wheels as they spend most of their time on them when they are not eating or resting (usually in the tunnel) The best type of wheel to buy is a large plastic one, they do not like the smaller ones or a Living World mesh type wheel (pictured above), do buy mesh type like picture above not the type with wide treads, these can trap tails and feet. It will need to be fastioned securely to the cage as Chipmunks do go quite mad on these. I also provide them with something to dig in for indoor Chipmunks they have a container which i fill to the top with wood shavings . In the aviary we have a plant container which is filled with compost and they love digging in this, they bury seeds which some may germinate so you may get grasses and sunflowers in there. It is important all Chipmunks have something to dig in so they can bury food and undertake natural tunneling behaviour. You could try bird and small animal toys i've tried a few of these before but have found Chipmunks aren't into playing as much as some animals but toys they can also chew on are great because most like to chew and it helps their teeth. As Chipmunks love wheels so much these may need replacing after time as well as any wooden shelves, i also find they need cleaning quite frequently. Mine like the cardboard tubes aswell i also have a hammock which they have chewed abit but they sometimes sleep in. With branches the safest type to use are fruit tree ones or oak or Sycamore i have also used conifor but some conifor can be poisonous so be careful.
The inside of one of the aviaries showing the ropes, tunnels, shelves, branches, climbing frame and hammock. I also have various parrot toys.
The inside of Hermione's daughter's aviary showing ropes, tunnel, wheels, ladder and shelf.
Some of our most recent accessaries have been this hanging basket which Sandi is in, they really like this, I can hide food and treats in there, put hay in and they will find it.
And Tiny really loves this pouch, he sometimes sleeps in there or stores some food. I do have to empty it out because eventually he can no longer fit in there with all the food!
Abigail with a Grape
Abigail with blueberry
What do Chipmunks eat?
You can now buy several food mixes specially for Chipmunks, one is available from Pets At Home called Chipmunk Muesli, probably not from the smaller pet shops. Mine were the least keen on Pets at Home's Chipmunk mix and tended to leave many bits. Before Pets at Home replaced the food with their own brand we used to buy Burgess Supa Chipmunk from there, Burgess have now discontinued Chipmunk but mine really liked this and would eat nearly all of it. We now buy Beaphar Xtra Vital Chipmunk food from the internet, they do like this but some bits are preferred to others. There is also a food available on the internet called Johnston and Jeff Chipmunk and Squirrel mix and many owners feed this to their Chippies. I haven't tried this yet but will soon. Sometimes I give mine a fruity Hamster mix which they like. The foods have everything they need to stay healthy. It's best to feed them every few days as if they are fed everyday they tend to eat certain parts of the food and leave the rest. They need to eat all the food as it's all important. The parts they will eat first will be the nuts and the sunflower seeds, then maize (looks like popcorn kernals you get for popcorn, which you pop in the microwave) they will most likely leave the biscuits, and wheat until last. I normally feed each Chipmunk about 30g of food, for pregnant and nursing females i would increase this and also in the autumn and winter. Chipmunks eat often throughout the day and they will often take food in their pouches and bury it or take it into their nestboxes. Actual Chipmunk food should make up most of the Chipmunk's diet but this is not a balanced diet in itself, the rest should be made up of various Fruits and Vegetables daily or several times a week aswell as yoghurt two/three times a week and some animal food (meat) several times monthly, mealworms are good for this either live or dried i find they prefer live, a piece of cooked chicken or hard boiled egg or crickets. This is important so your Chipmunk doesn't develop Metabolic Bone Disease. For a healthy diet your Chipmunk will need all these elements - Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Protein and fat aswell as low levels of Phosphorus. Avoid lots of nuts (especially peanuts), sunflower seeds and corn as these are high in Phosphorus and low in Calcium, the first two will also make the Chipmunk fat if too many are eaten. The ideal ratio is Calcium 2 - 1 Phosphorus (2:1). When a Chipmunk gets a higher dose of Phosphorus than Calcium it means the body doesn’t use the Calcium correctly and much of it gets wasted. To compensate for the loss the body then takes Calcium out of the bones which makes them weak which eventually can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease. Chipmunks can also get problems with too much Calcium so a balance as much as possible is important. The Squirrel Board website has a good nutrition section on the best calcium rich fruits and vegetables to feed. I recommend reading this. Pregnant and nursing Chipmunks will need extra calcium and also extra protein.
For calcium you can also give small pieces of cheese. For vitamin D i give yoghurt Petis Filous is good for both calcium and Vit D or Muller Rice. Mine like Petis Filous the most. Mushrooms are also a great source of Vitamin D.
Do not forget to provide additional Calcium supplements (Cuttlefish bones and mineral blocks) These go in the cage whole. I also once a week grate cuttlefish over their Chipmunk mix.
Bailey with the fruity Hamster mix
As it is difficult to get Chipmunk food it may be an idea to make your own, main ingredients in Chipmunk food you can buy are maize, sunflower seeds, pea flakes, carob pods, extruded biscuits, sugar beet pellets, pine kernals, monkey nuts/peanuts, wheat. Minerals and vitamins are added - Vitamin's A, D3 and E. Pets at Home's Chipmunk food does not contain calcium so Chipmunks need this by mineral blocks being provided and cuttlefish. Xtra Vital does contain calcium but i still give a supplement. Most rodent foods such as Hamster are similar to Chipmunk and if you looked at the ingredients you will probably see alot the same. Hamster food could be used and you then add to it. Some pet shops may sell a Squirrel mix or it may be possible to get on the internet, this is similar to Chipmunk food.
Pearl and Asriel eating Honeydew Melon
Fruits and Vegetables
Chipmunks like fruit and will eat pretty much any fruit. Some foods they might like: Apples (remove pips), Pears, Bananas, Grapes, oranges (remove pips), pineapples, kiwis, peaches (remove stones), cherries (remove stones), Plums (remove stones), Blackberries, Raspberries,Strawberries and Melons.
I have read that Apple pips can be poisonous not sure about other pips such as in Oranges and Pears but to be on the safe side I remove them. I have heard that pips in Apricots are poisonous. The stones in Peaches, Cherries , Plums, Mangoes and Nectarine are poisonous aswell so always remove these. I leave seeds in Honeydew and Water Melon, Pomegrantes and Pumpkin I haven't heard any concerns with these and the Chipmunks love to take the seeds out of the fruit.
Hazel eating orange
Chipmunks like some vegetables but this may vary with each Chipmunk and overall I find they are fuzzy with vegetables. The Chipmunk book says they might eat: carrots, sweetcorn on a cob, peas, beans, sprouts, cauliflower, kale, chicory and endives.
Asriel and Pearl eating a corn on the cob
Chipmunks may also eat lettuce, cucumber and cabbage but these should be given in moderation, it can upset their stomaches if given too much.
Chipmunks also need some animal food in their diet, they like mealworms (you can buy them alive or dried). You can also buy crickets, give some hard boiled or scrambled egg or give cat biscuits or canned dog food (good for Calcium).
Bailey eating Almonds
Chipmunks like nuts:
Hazel Nuts, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, Almonds, Monkey Nuts, Walnuts, Pine nuts, Acorns, Peanuts, Cobnuts, Hickory Nuts and Sweet Chestnuts and Macadamia Nuts. Try and give some of these in the shell, it is great for the Chipmunk to have the challenge of cracking the nuts and is good for keeping their teeth short. Brazil Nuts need to be partly cracked, they are too tough for Chpmunks to crack by themselves. With Acorns try and collect newly fallen ones or if possible get them straight from the tree. If they have been lying on the ground for too long and have got damp they can go bad. Avoid collecting cracked Acorns. You can freeze Acorns and other nuts to keep them fresher for longer.
Bailey and Abigail eating a Hamster honey stick
Other food they might like:
Here are the foods that my Chipmunks have eaten:
cheese, ham, chicken, beef, fish (cooked or from packets I don't feed raw meat or fish), mini chedders, crisps they like Wotsits, Quavors and most flavours of Walkers. cream crackers and crispbread and cornish wafers, honey, yoghurt (Mine like Petis Filous, Muller Rice and Yeo Valley fruit varieties. mealworms, Hamster/Rat treats such as honey stickle sticks, fruit and nut sticks, dried fruit for small animals. I also buy human dry fruit mixes they love banana chips. Millet sprays you can get for birds, wild Dandelions they eat the whole flower and leaves, wild Daisies, Clover, (Buttercups are poisonous - avoid these),dried cat food, cereal (Rice Crispies, Cornflakes, Shreddies plain and honey flavoured and mini Wheetabix). Biscuits (they love Digestives and also Custard Creams!), boiled and scrambled eggs (I give this to pregnant and nursing Chipmunks mostly and the babies like to eat it aswell, not all my Chipmunks like egg.) Apples (remove pips), pears, bananas, grapes, oranges (remove pips), cherries (remove stones), Plums (remove stones), Blackberries, Raspberries,Strawberries, Fresh Figs, carrots, sweetcorn on a cob, Bell Peppers, peas, sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, hazel nuts, brazil nuts, monkey nuts, walnuts, acorns and peanuts. Seseme seeds and raisins. Pine nuts they seemed to like these too and Honeydew Melon they ate too. I sometimes give them scraps of the food i am eating so they have tried many foods. Human foods can be given as an occasional treat but never chocolate. Most of mine like Peanut Butter. I tried Dragon Fruit, most left it but Pearl and Hazel had a nibble but it didn't go down like i thought it would. They have had Kiwi which they quite liked and pomegrante which went down well and Avocardo which didn't agree with mine. The skin of Avocardos and the pit and stone in the middle is toxic so remove completely before giving to the animals. Mine aren't keen on Mushrooms but i am trying to get them to change their minds. They have also recently eaten Papaya, Mangoes (remove stones). Cranberries and Peaches (remove stones). They liked all of these but didn't go for the Cranberries as much.
Hermione and a baby eating Blossom
I have found Chipmunks will eat anything, you could also feed rose hips, apparently Chipmunks like these, rose petals, wheat, beechmast, bread, rusks and toast. Chipmunks like flowers but alot of these can be poisonous such as Daffadils, most wild flowers are fine except buttercups, Chipmunks will like wild blackberries. Please research before giving flowers and plants i have heard Marigolds, Honey suckle, Hibiscus, Magnolia, Hawthorn and Carnations are ok.
Pearl and yoghurt
So you can see that it is very easy to put variety into your Chipmunk's diet. You may be surprised to see that Chipmunks eat meat, in the wild they are mainly vegetarian but if they have the opportunity they may eat mice, birds, their eggs and chicks aswell as grubs and worms - they are omnivores (eat anything). Chipmunks may eat moths and their larve and spiders that go in their cage. I've found the remains of Earwigs in some of my aviaries. They may also eat crickets and they love mealworms you buy for feeding lizards. Each Chipmunk may be different some might like a food that others will not like. The best type of bowl to use is a ceramic bowl like the type you can get for rabbits which cannot be tipped over when the Chipmunk sits on the edge to eat.
Remember to never feed Chipmunks chocolate (it is poisonous for Chipmunks, Cats and Dogs) Foods with lots of sugar and salt and sodium shouldn't be fed very often and if fed in small amounts.
Hazel eating cuttlefish bone
Don't overfed nuts and sunflower seeds as these will make your Chipmunk get fat. These are also high in phosphorus, which is bad if levels are higher than calcium levels. I give my Chipmunks cuttlefish bone as it's a good source of calcium, pregnant females and nursing mothers will need extra calcium so will visit these alot more. Other mineral blocks are also a good idea as supplements. Mine have fruit mineral ones, some of the chipmunks nibble on these often, some rarely. Vitamin supplements are available to add to their drinking water.
Remember Chipmunks need Vit D to adsorb calcium and always need access to fresh drinking water in a bottle you can get that is suitable for Hamsters or Rabbits, this is hung on the outside of the cage. Aftertime algae will build up in the bottle (which turns the water green) so it's best to use a bottlebrush once a week to clean any algae. Occasionally these bottles might need to be replaced if there is a build up of algae. Water in a bowl will often be knocked over, wetting the cage or the Chipmunks will get shavings and bedding in it. Chipmunks drink quite alot and you will often see them drink upside down from these bottles!
For outdoor Chipmunks its best to keep the bottle out of direct sunlight to slow down the speed of algae developing and also in the winter once frosts arrive the water will freeze so bottles will need to be checked several times daily for freezing. If the bottle does freeze then pour hot water onto the ice to melt it, its best not to try to crack the ice as this may break the bottle. The spout is where most ice will build up, this prevents the Chipmunks from drinking if the water freezes and the ice in the spout will need melting too. Or what i do is have more than one bottle so the frozen bottles can be left indoors so the ice can melt naturally and i just put another bottle on instead. This method is much quicker as it can take awhile to melt the ice. You can get a cover for water bottles which will help to prevent freezing in the winter but will keep the water cool in the summer and free from algae more.
Keeping American Chipmunks
Up until recently i wasn't aware that American Chipmunks were in the UK but having spoken to someone who keeps Eastern chips i now know that there are some American Chipmunks here. Eastern Chipmunks are kept more commonly in Europe. American Chipmunks can be kept much the same way as Siberians, they eat the same food, need the same accommodation, the only difference is if they are Eastern's they must be kept solitary as they do not like own kind. Eastern's spend more time on the ground than Siberian's so do not require such large cages and could be kept indoors quite happily. Never mix Siberian and Eastern or Western Chipmunks together as they will most likely not tolerate each other and especially with Easterns who are very territorial. Western Chips are much rarer in captivity, these are more social than Easterns and can be paired like Siberian's but may be best to not pair different Western species together as they will most likely fight. Western chips need cages about the same height as for Siberian's but this varies with Western species as they vary in living arrangements, some Westerns such as Cliff and Alpine Chipmunks live in high altitudes and are probably not suitable for a life in captivity. Generally Western Chipmunk's are more arboreal than the Eastern which is more of a ground dweller. Each species may have slightly different needs so research that species thoroughly.
There are a number of books available on Chipmunks which give more information.
I have Your First Chipmunk which was the first book i got
Guide to Owning Chipmunks and Similar Species
Pet Owner's Guide to The Chipmunk
, Rabbits, Squirrels and Chipmunks (not care book)
About Pets: The Chipmunk
Chipmunks and the Siberian Chipmunk in Captivity
and recently How to Care For Your Chipmunk
Keeping Unusual Pets: Chipmunks
and Just About Chipmunks.
The links take you to Amazon.co.uk where you can find out more about these books and purchase them. I recommend Pet Owners Guide to The Chipmunk by Chris Henwood, Guide to Owning Chipmunks and Similar Species also by Chris Henwood, About Pets The Chipmunk, Keeping Unusual Pets Chipmunks by Belinda Ogle (but this is more aimed at children) and Just About Chipmunks by Chris Strike a Veterinary Nurse. The last one is good for First Aid for Chipmunks. These are the best out of the Chipmunk books i have.
Picture of me with all ten Chipmunk books - click on link to take you to the picture on photobucket.
Last update 29th February 2012