Are you and your kid’s big fans of the movie “Alvin and the Chipmunks”? Have you ever wondered about how a chipmunk is different from a squirrel since they look the same?
We have tried to answer some of your questions along with some mind-blowing chipmunk facts for kids. Happy reading.
11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Chipmunks for Kids
Do you know that chipmunks and squirrels are cousins? They share the same family called Sciuridae. But they are quite different from each other. Let us know more about chipmunks here.
1. The origin of their name
Chipmunks are named so because of the chip-chip sound they make called chipping. They also make other sounds like chucking and trilling.
The trilling sound is often made by them while chased by predators. These are often of short frequency as do not repeat trilling sounds. The chipping and chucking sounds are somewhat similar.
2. Chipmunks are omnivorous
They love to eat nuts majorly. Their diet can contain seeds, grains, berries, fruits, and mushrooms. They also feed on baby birds, bird eggs, frogs, and some insects as well.
They are most active during the daytime and collect as much food as they can to munch on later. In human habitats, they can eat vegetables and grains that are cultivated and hence, are sometimes considered pests.
3. They are anti-social
They love to live in isolation and as soon as they are two months old, they separate from their mothers to live alone. They do not interact with other chipmunks much.
They only come close to each other during mating season which is mainly in the spring season and sometimes during the falls as well. They need some time to trust the owner while living in captivity.
4. Their burrows can get real deep
The entrance of the burrows might look very small but they can get as deep as 20 to 30 feet. The chipmunks are solitary creatures and they are very protective of their burrows. They get aggressive when someone tries to intrude into their habitat.
Some chipmunks might enter other’s burrows during winters to steal food. The chipmunks often build emergency caches so that they never run out of food during winters.
5. Chipmunks got pouches in their mouth
The chipmunks do not survive on body fats during winters like other hibernating animals. They rather store food during summers to be used in the winters.
Their cheeks have got pouches in which they can store large amounts of food while collecting and searching for food. They take this food to their burrows and save it for later. During winters, this cache of food is their source of energy.
6. They survive long in captivity
The chipmunks don’t need much care like bathing and grooming. They just need proper attention and enough food to survive. In the absence of predators, they can survive longer in captivity, as long as 9 – 11 years.
They have trust issues in the beginning but can prove to be good pets. They are very expensive pets though including their maintenance. They are diurnal and sleep at night so you do not have to attend to them during night time.
7. They are different from other hibernating animals
Chipmunks do not spend the entire hibernation period sleeping. In fact, they are light sleepers and enter a state of torpor rather than hibernation. They do not eat as much as they can during summers like the hibernating animals.
Rather they depend on their cache food during winters and wake up every few days to feed on them. Their body temperature decreases as well as their heart rates to survive the winters. They seem dead during hibernation because of decreased respiration.
8. Breeding process of the chipmunks
The chipmunks from both the eastern and western parts of the world mate once a year. The eastern chipmunks, however, mate once again during early falls if the temperature is warm enough.
They have a gestation period of 30 days. After the gestation period, the mother takes care of the infants for two months feeding them milk. After two months, the pups separate from their mother.
9. They are the smallest creatures in their family
Chipmunks are the smallest members of their squirrel family. They can vary from 7 – 11 inches in body length. The small ones can weigh up to 1.76 ounces whereas the bigger ones weigh up to 4.40 ounces.
The eastern chipmunk is the largest among all the species of chipmunks. They can run fast and they are very active as well. An individual chipmunk can carry a large amount of food in a single day.
10. There are more than 20 species of chipmunks
There are as many as 25 species of chipmunks. The most common of them is the eastern chipmunks and the Siberian chipmunks. Most of them are found in the continent of North America.
Only the Siberian ones are found outside of North America. These are also spreading across Europe according to the researches.
11. The baby chipmunks and their mother
The baby chipmunks are commonly known as pups. They are also called kittens. The female chipmunks can give birth to two to eight pups in a single litter. They give birth twice a year in late spring and again in fall.
The mothers are very protective of their pups. After two months, the pups separate from their mother and build their own individual burrows and start collecting food there.
What is the difference between a Chipmunk and a Squirrel? (Chipmunk vs Squirrel)
- Chipmunks are smaller in size than squirrels.
- The squirrels live in trees while the chipmunks burrow into the ground.
- They can be differentiated by their tails. The chipmunks have a bushy tail that stands high while the squirrels have a normal tail that lies low.
- Chipmunks share the same family as that of squirrels and they are small squirrels only.
Also want to know about some other cute looking creatures, read these articles:
Chipmunk Hibernation Facts
- Chipmunks hibernate during winters but it is more of a torpor than hibernation.
- They start collecting food at the beginning of the fall for their hibernation period.
- Unlike other hibernating animals, chipmunks wake up every few days to munch on their stored food.
- They survive the winters in this state of torpor as their heart rate and respiration gets reduced. Their body temperature also falls to 40 degrees from 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- They often build emergency caches to store food for winters so even if other chipmunks invade their burrows for food, they still would be left with enough food.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The baby chipmunks are known as kittens, kits or pups.
A group of chipmunks is known as a scurry.
Chipmunks are very small mammals relating to the same family as squirrels.
They help in spreading seeds and fungi that help in the growth and the survival of the trees.
Chipmunks’ favorite diet includes seeds and nuts above all. They also eat insects, snails, fruits, berries, and various types of grains.
For two months they drink their mother’s milk. After two months, when they are old enough to eat solids, they start eating seeds, nuts, and insects that they find around.
They love to munch on acorns and other nuts as they love the crunch of their shell. Acorns also provide a high amount of protein and other nutrition to them.
They have pouches inside their cheeks that help them in storing food while they search for more food to eat later or store in their burrows.
They can smell danger from a distance. Although, they are not very good fighters they are quick and flexible and safeguard themselves from predators.
They mainly have their habitats in forests. But they have adapted to live in the deserts and tundra as well. They either dig burrows or live in bushes, trees, rocks, stumps, shrubs or tree logs.
They are diurnal like us and are active during the daytime. They sleep at night.
They do not hibernate like other such animals but they do enter such a state during winters. Unlike other hibernating animals, they wake up every few days to eat and excrete.
As soon as the spring knocks on the doors, the chipmunks resurface above the ground. Usually, they come out in March or April.
From the early fall itself, chipmunks start collecting food for the winters. They mostly collect seeds and nuts and keep them in their burrows where they withdraw during winters.
In wild, they can survive up to 2 – 5 years. In captivity, they are known to live up to as long as 11 years as they are provided adequate food and are safeguarded from predators.
Chipmunks can live in tree logs, shrubs, and other places above the ground but they mainly burrow and make their nests there. They also retreat in these burrows during winters.
Chipmunks are not very social. They prefer to live alone. A single chipmunk lives in a single burrow unless it is a mother chipmunk taking care of her infant babies.
Chipmunks prefer to stay secluded. They are not socially active and like their distance from the other chipmunks.
You will find only one chipmunk in a burrow. Unless it is a mother who just gave babies, chipmunks prefer to isolate themselves from others.
A chipmunk can weigh between 1 – 5 ounces. The eastern chipmunk which is considered the largest among the rest of the species weighs up to 4.4 ounces.
The eastern chipmunk can be about 11 inches in body length which includes a 3 – 5 inches long tail. The others can grow up to 4 – 7 inches in body length along with a 3 – 5 inches tail.
Chipmunks belong to the family of Sciuridae, the same as that of squirrels. They are striped rodents.
Squirrels are bigger than chipmunks. Chipmunks are smaller in size than squirrels but can be called stripped squirrels.
The chipmunks can run as fast as 29 miles per hour. This is the top speed of an eastern chipmunk.
They can swim but are not known as great swimmers. They are very slow swimmers.
Chipmunks are not as friendly as they seem to be cute. They prefer isolation and wilderness. They often get into human habitation in search of food and not company.
So these were some amazing chipmunk facts for kids. We hope this article provided you with enough facts to increase your knowledge about this cute looking creature.