Chipmunks

Chipmunks are small burrowing rodents, full of activity and curiosity. They are excellent climbers and foragers, and in the wild are associated with forests. The avoidance of stress and aggression between individuals are very important.

Housing: Chipmunks can be housed singly, in pairs, or in groups of one male and two females, or in colonies. They can be kept indoors or in a shed or an aviary-type structure. Your pet shop or local Dobbies pet centre will be pleased to offer advice.

If keeping a chipmunk as a pet, a large cage is essential.

The cage should have one or two solid sides. The bases of inside cages must be solid and covered with paper, straw, peat, wood shavings or sawdust from non-chemically treated wood. Outside aviary-type cages should have a shelter at one end, with either a wire mesh (1in x 1.5in / 25mm x 37mm –16 gauge) or solid base of concrete or bricks with provision for good drainage and covered with earth, peat or gravel. It is advisable to have a double door to prevent escape. Shelves, branches, rocks, pipes and extra nest boxes must be added to provide extra interest for your chipmunk. If you house two males side by side, make sure the partition between them is solid to prevent them fighting through the wire.

Nest Boxes

One wooden nest box (6in x 8in x 6in) (15cm x 20cm x 15cm) or larger is required for each adult in the cage with an entrance hole of 2in-2.5in (5cm-6.5cm) diameter half way up one side. You should fill the box with shredded paper, hay or dried leaves. Extra bedding should be available in the autumn and for female with young. If paper is used to cover the bottom of the cage, chipmunks will tear this up to supplement their bedding as required.

Feeding

Chipmunks require a basic diet of cereals with addition of vegetables, nuts, a little fruit and a limited amount of animal protein in the form of meat and eggs. Prepared hamster mixture can form a basis of the diet together with dry dog or cat foods containing animal protein. Peanuts and sunflower seeds should be limited and green vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and cauliflower can be added in small amounts. Chipmunks are very individual in their food preference. They seem to enjoy a change in diet.

Water

Chipmunks need a regular supply of fresh water. Water bottles should be thoroughly washed and refilled daily or as required.

General Tasks

The insides of cages should be cleaned regularly and as necessary, depending on the base material provided. Use a mild disinfectant. Usually one corner is used as a toilet area and this must be cleaned frequently. Furnishings should be cleaned regularly. Outside cages need little cleaning. Nest boxes should be washed out and thoroughly dried twice a year and after a litter has been weaned.

The nest boxes should not be touched between September and March because seeds will be hoarded inside them. Heating is unnecessary but good ventilation is important. Cages must be mouse-proof to avoid infection. Given a good diet, housing and regular attention your chipmunk will have few health problems. Should he become unwell you should seek professional advice. Should your chipmunks incisors become too long, dry wholemeal macaroni may be given.

Important information

If the Chipmunk becomes ill, veterinary treatment may be needed. Although many Chipmunks will never need veterinary treatment during their life, you should be prepared for the possibility when taking on the commitment of a pet.