Animals / Rodents

The Common Chipmunk

Синонимы и названия на других языках

The Siberian Chipmunk


Order: rodentia

Family: sciuridae

Genus: eutamias

Species: eutamias sibiricus


The distribution area is very large and covers the whole taiga area of Eurasia: from north-east of Russia to the Far East (except for Kamchatka), northern Mongolia, the islands of Sakhalin and Hokkaido. A lot of chipmunks can be seen in broadleaved woodland of the Primorsky Krai, where 200-300 specimens can live in one square kilometer. They can be found in a vast variety of terrains: in the woodland, meadows, along the river banks, in the edge of fields etc. 

Внешний вид

The chipmunk reminds of a small squirrel. Normally it reaches 18-25 cm, and a third part of it is tail. It is closer to its terrestrial “cousins” – marmots and ground squirrels, but its body type looks more like an arboreal species. Its hind legs are longer and stronger than its front legs, it has quite big ears and shorter claws. On the other hand, it has cheek ouches for carrying small portions of food. Its coat is short and it doesn’t change from winter to summer. The back is red-gray and the belly is white. Typically the chipmunk has 4 white stripes and 5 dark stripes along the back.


It is a diurnal species. Chipmunks are good climbers but they spend most of their time on the ground. They live in shallow holes, sometimes in tree hollows. When chipmunks live on rockslides, they don’t dig holes but make nests between stones. Their underground dwellings usually have two chambers: one of them serves as a nest, it is full of dry grass and leaves, and the larder where the animals keep their food stock.  There is only one tunnel that leads on the hole; it is normally about 3.5 m long, and the entrance is hidden under tree roots. Usually the chipmunks makes several other holes in its area in order to keep the food for the winter. In summer chipmunks can live in holes in stubs, by the roots or under the stems of fallen trees. In captivity these rodents like walking around the houses, running on cupboards and jumping on the floor. They can be let out of the cage, but under the close supervision of their owner, since chipmunks like chewing and tasting everything. When you allow it to walk around in your house, the room should be free of objects that the chipmunk can drop on itself or from which it can fall down. Also you will have to take away from the floor electrical wires, poisonous plants and household chemicals. You have to remember that the chipmunk is very curious and can injure itself or even die if it is not controlled closely.  

Содержание и уход

In order for the chipmunk to feel as comfortable as possible, it needs a metal cage (all the wooden details and objects grind very quickly). The cage has to be at least 80 cm high, 40 cm long and 40 cm wide. You should install a wheel in the cage (like the one for a squirrel, but a little smaller) so that the chipmunk can run enough and actively move. Otherwise its muscles will get slack and the animal will become sluggish. The wheel also serves as an emotional discharge: a chipmunk can “run away” from the hypothetical danger, so it will not become too stressed. You should also install various shelves and perches for the rodent to it on and to gnaw its teeth on.

Chipmunks need some material to dig and burrow in. Aspen shavings are the best choice. Never use pine or cedar, they are toxic.  Bedding of hay or shredded paper is also fine.


In the wild the chipmunk eats almost everything: seeds, nuts, mushrooms, berries, young shoots and many other things. It is vegetarian and only rarely eats insects and scallops.  In captivity you should try to offer the chipmunk a varied diet. Chipmunks have to eat specialized commercial food and plant feed (herbs, berries) in the ratio 70 and 30% subsequently. Before feeding the chipmunk with herbs and vegetables, you should wash them carefully in the running water. If you give them fruit, you should peel them because the digestive system of chipmunks is very sensitive to pesticides. Never give the chipmunk almonds since they contain hydrocyanic acid which is very dangerous for it. They love all kinds of nuts, acorns, cereals, sunflower seeds, fruit, berries, dandelions etc. Cooked eggs are an excellent source of protein for your chipmunk.

Make sure that your chipmunk always has fresh and clean water available.


Chipmunks are very active and therefore can be destructive: they can gnaw and chew furniture and so on. They should be monitored carefully. Try to provide them with a lot of things to chew and to gnaw.

Chipmunks are prone to overeating. 


Chipmunks are prone to such illnesses as enteritis, cystitis, bloating. They can get ringworms or ectoparasites. Teeth anomalies occur.

If you think that your chipmunk might be ill, take it to the vet as soon as possible. Never give to chipmunk medicines aimed at other animals – it is very dangerous!

Average life span in the wild - 2-3 years, in captivity chipmunks can live up to 6 years.

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