At least since Disney’s A squirrel and B squirrel, chipmunks have been among the most popular rodents and are often kept as pets. However, chipmunks are by no means as domesticated as other rodents kept as pets. Here you can find out how chipmunks can be kept in a species-appropriate manner.
As true wild animals, chipmunks have their own requirements when it comes to keeping them in captivity. The keeping of chipmunks is therefore also very controversial. If you have made the decision to keep a chipmunk, it is important that you do your full research about the animals and their needs, and that you take care of them.
Keep chipmunks as pets?
For a long time, chipmunks could be found in every pet shop, but also from special breeders or in animal shelters. This has changed since 2016, however, when the Siberian chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus), the most commonly kept chipmunk, was placed on the EU list of invasive species. This means, among other things, that chipmunks can no longer be kept as pets in the EU. However, if you already own a chipmunk, you may of course keep it until it dies naturally. The life expectancy of chipmunks is about seven years. This time you should make your chipmunk as nice as possible.
The species-appropriate enclosure of the chipmunk
It is important that your chipmunk has adequate space in its enclosure. Chipmunks love to move, jump and climb. It must be able to live out these needs in its cage. Therefore, you must urgently pay attention to the right equipment in the chipmunk enclosure for a species-appropriate attitude:
The enclosure for chipmunks should have a minimum area of 4 m² and a height of 2 m per animal. In general, the bigger the better. Most aviaries in pet shops are significantly smaller. Please refrain from buying such aviaries!
It is therefore recommended that chipmunks are best kept outdoors. This is the most species-appropriate way of keeping chipmunks because there is most space outside and the chipmunks live under natural climatic and environmental stimuli. You can also build an outdoor enclosure for chipmunks yourself.
However, if you keep your chipmunk indoors, you should definitely allow your chipmunk to roam freely in the apartment on a regular basis.
Keeping chipmunks singly or in pairs?
In the wild, Asian chipmunks live in loose colonies, where each individual has its own territory and also defends it against the other animals. It is, therefore, possible to keep chipmunks individually without this being cruel to animals or causing the animals to wither away.
If you want to keep two animals together, the cage should clearly exceed the dimensions for a single animal. Above all, it is important to offer each animal enough opportunities to retreat in order to avoid stress. It has proven useful to design the cage in such a way that it can be divided into two halves if necessary. This can be necessary if you want to separate a mother from a young or if there are short-term disputes between the animals.
If you do not want to breed offspring, it is advisable to keep two animals of the same sex. Two males get along just as well or badly as two females. It is important to intervene immediately in the event of a dispute, otherwise, serious injuries or even death can result.