Contrary to popular belief, chipmunks spend a large part of the day on the ground. Here they create tunnel systems and bury their supplies.
They retain this natural need even when in human care. In order for them to be able to live it out, they need a sufficiently thick layer of bedding. The minimum layer thickness for the litter should be 15 cm, larger amounts of litter are of course better. But not only the amount of litter, but also the quality is important for species-appropriate behavior.
Which bedding is the right one?
Usually, the small animal litter (wood shavings) offered in the pet trade is offered as a substrate. Although this is inexpensive, it has the major disadvantage that the passages created by the squirrel are not very stable. This can be significantly improved by adding hay. The hay is also used as food or cushioning material. Hemp bedding, straw pellets, and beech wood granules, on the other hand, are not recommended as substrates for chipmunks, as they do not allow them to create stable tunnels. This only works if they are mixed with the usual litter for small animals. The cotton-based small animal litter, which is now more frequently available in specialist shops, is much better suited as a substrate. It is also suitable for allergy sufferers as it is absolutely dust-free. And much more important: It allows the stable creation of aisles since the fibers become matted with each other. In addition, it binds emerging odors extremely effectively. Unfortunately, it has the disadvantage that it is significantly more expensive than conventional litter.
If you want to offer your chipmunk an environment that is as natural as possible, you can also use a mixture of sand and peat as substrate. This allows the creation of corridors and largely corresponds to the natural substrate. However, it must always be slightly moistened so that the passages created in it remain stable. If it dries out, there is also massive dust formation. But don’t overdo it with the moisture. Otherwise waterlogging and mold will form, which can have serious health consequences for the squirrel. In addition to the peat-sand mixture, bark mulch is also an alternative as a substrate. The larger pieces of bark it contains provide a good stimulus for the Burunduk’s gnawing teeth. Without admixture, however, the creation of aisles is impossible. This problem can be solved by mixing in peat or unfertilized potting soil. Here, too, the bedding must always be kept slightly moist. Flower sprayers are ideal for moistening the bedding, and many squirrels also like to use the gentle jet as a shower.
If you are afraid of mold or other pathogens in the peat, we recommend the coconut bricks used by terrorists. They are sterilized and add a sufficient quantity of substrate the mix with water.
Chipmunks need nesting material to pad their burrow. Toilet and/or kitchen paper are gladly accepted. Both are well suited as nesting materials, provided they are undyed and unscented. Hay is also gladly accepted. If you only need small quantities, you can easily purchase them from specialist retailers. However, if you need larger amounts of hay, it is advisable to buy it from the farmer, as larger quantities can also be purchased there at a relatively low price. No matter where you buy the hay, always make sure that the hay smells fresh. Musty-smelling hay has usually gotten wet and harbors the risk of mold infections. It is also important to check the hay for unwanted contents such as plastic, screws, or similar that pose a health risk to the chipmunk.