What Do Chipmunks Eat: A Complete Guide

6 mins read
By Richard Hamilton on Unsplash

Chipmunks are small, striped, energetic critters. Although they are not choosy in matters of food, animal lovers having a pet chipmunk wonder what do chipmunks eat that is easily available and equally healthy. Can you guess what do chipmunks eat for a healthy diet and nutritious life? Let us look at some exciting and unique facts about chipmunk feeding habits and common foods that make up the chipmunk diet. For curious animal lovers, you can also check our article on what do turtles eat.

What do Chipmunks eat by Skyler Ewing/ Pexels
By Skyler Ewing/ Pexels

Chipmunk species are omnivorous and members of the order Rodentia (Rodents). These are minutely different from the other members of the same order, squirrels. Anything a squirrel can eat is safe for a chipmunk. They have a wide variety of approximately 25 species spread across the globe.

Out of all the other species, the biggest species of chipmunk is the Eastern chipmunk. These small animals with furry tails have stripes of different colors ranging from black, brown, and white and live in burrows formed under the ground. Generally, the bottom of the burrows is lined with leaves and grasses to provide a comfortable area to rest.

Chipmunks are also kept as pets in many homes. Wondering what food sources keep them active all day or what do chipmunks eat? Let’s take a quick glimpse at the eating habits of chipmunks.

Eating Habits

Chipmunks feed up to six times a day, eating in small portions during each mealtime. Their strong teeth are helpful to chew and often store extra food in their cheeks. During the winter, if kept outside, pet chipmunks become less active. Chipmunks do not practice hibernation but prefer to sleep more than usual during the winter months.

They may eat less often due to limited choices. These actions mimic their natural seasonal behavior. He generally survives off food, like acorns and nuts, which he stockpiled during the warm months, and any passing creature he can find. When outdoors, chipmunks can be found eating pet food or seeds from bowls.

Chipmunks enjoy most of the food preferred by humans in their day-to-day lives. They have been seen munching on sugars, cookies, cooked goods, bread portions, and so on. Feeding chipmunks seeds, nuts, and fresh vegetables are not difficult to find. Occasionally adding small bugs to their diet can be beneficial.

This can include crickets, maggots, and grasshoppers. If in their natural habitat, these are naturally searched for but as a pet chipmunk, these vital sources of protein are needed. Meanwhile, have a potent sense of smell and often rely on their olfactory senses to find and differentiate between different foods. Other senses like touch, taste, and hearing are found to contribute more to survival.

Untreated seeding grasses and weeds such as chickweed, seedling dock, and shepherd purse are also potentially safe options for chipmunks. It is also critically important to note that the bugs, seeds like sunflower seeds, and plants gathered for feeding chipmunks are free from all kinds of insecticides and pesticides as they can be fatal for chipmunks.

Food Sources That Answer What Do Chipmunks Eat

  1. Nuts

These little rodents enjoy nuts and seeds. Nuts like pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, and seeds derived from trees and flowers including sunflowers, maples, and so on are some examples of natural foods. These are stuffed by them into their cheek pouches. These collect food and store it for future use in burrows. When feeding fully grown chipmunks, cereals should account for up to 50% of their diet (oats, wheat, barley, corn, and millet sprays).

Photo by Skyler Ewing/Pexels
By Skyler Ewing/Pexels

List of nuts that chipmunks love and are beneficial in their diet:-

  1. Walnuts
  2. Chestnuts
  3. Pine nuts
  4. Dried Apricots
  5. Cashews
  1. Fruits

When answering the question what do chipmunks eat, you can never go wrong with fruits. The Chipmunks love foods like berries, tender plants, and seeds. They also eat fungi and small insects and small animals as sources of food. Small amounts of washed, chopped fruit and vegetables such as apples, pears, bananas, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes provide variety to their diet and are loved by these tiny animals. Fruits like strawberries, blackberries, and other berries that grow close to the ground are often looked for by chipmunks.

List of fruits nutritious in their diet:-

  1. Pears
  2. Apples
  3. Peaches
  4. Oranges
  5. Cranberries
  6. Plums
  7. Pomegranates
  8. Bananas
  9. Watermelon
  10. Cherries
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Avocados:- These are very fatty for chipmunks and should be given in moderation. The avocado should be peeled to remove the skin before feeding them to the pet.
  1. Living Food

For the inclusion of a protein component in your pets’ diet, add some cooked chicken and live food like mealworms to their diet. Chipmunks can climb trees to hunt and eat bird eggs, baby mice, and small birds as a food source. However, the lifestyle of chipmunks in the wild is different from that of pet chipmunks.

What do chipmunks eat in the wild? Chipmunks prefer to eat other living organisms in the wild. Some of their favorite prey include arthropods like worms, centipedes, and millipedes. They often eat insects, snails, and worms. They also eat small frogs and salamanders. Other alternatives include baby birds and snake eggs.

  1. Grains

To feed chipmunks, grains also make up the diet. Fresh vegetables and grains in the chipmunk’s diet include squash and corn. Birds seeds are one of the favorite food of chipmunks along with sunflower seeds. In the wild, chipmunks choose vegetables and fruits that are easy to reach, bringing havoc for gardeners. A chipmunk that’s kept as a pet will have one big advantage over its wild counterparts, and that’s the availability of pre-packaged food.

Chipmunk eating on grass by Tapas Das / Pexels
By Tapas Das / Pexels

List of fresh vegetables and grains essential in their diet:-

  1. Broccoli
  2. Carrots
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Lettuce
  5. Cooked green beans
  6. Bean sprouts
  7. Red and Green Peppers (Make sure to not feed them too spicy ones for your chipmunks and try to feed them in small amounts at a time)
  8. Cauliflower
  9. Corn (fresh or frozen)
  10. Kale
  11. Mashed potatoes
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cucumber
  14. Bird seeds
  15. Pumpkins
  1. Other Food Alternatives for Chipmunks

These little guys need a balanced diet that is low in fat. Including sources rich in proteins, fresh and dried fruit, and vegetables. Keeping in mind what chipmunks eat is equally important as what not to feed them. Too much sugar or bread can be quite harmful to their bones and overall body, thus causing them a life threat. This stands especially true of people who are planning to keep chipmunks as pets. Chipmunks, when with humans, will get habitual of the practice of free-feeding. This will be causing them to even eat odd tidbits that are fed or handed out by humans.

A clean cuttlefish bone is a rich source of calcium. Chewing on bones wears down their teeth, which are constantly growing throughout their lives thereby maintaining the right length and form of teeth. Other alternatives to what do chipmunks eat, especially for pet chipmunks include:-

  1. Yogurt (good for the digestive system)
  2. Yogurt-covered pretzels
  3. Yogurt drops
  4. Grapes (Purple grapes are believed to prevent cancer in chipmunks)
  5. Vanilla custard baby food
  6. Vegetable baby food
  7. Turkey:- Though chicken is the better meat to feed chipmunks, small amounts of turkeys is just fine to feed chipmunk.
  8. Bread:- Many chipmunks love bread and it would be recommended to feed only very small pieces to your chipmunks, toasting it first. Alternatively, bread can be softened by dipping it in milk or water.
  9. Whole wheat pasta (a great source of carbohydrates for chipmunks)
  10. Beef:- Beef is safe to feed if fed in moderation and the fat content is kept to a minimum.
  11. Whole wheat bread
  12. Whole-grain crackers
  13. Chicken is the healthiest meat for chipmunks
  14. Chicken bones:- Chicken bones not only add nutritional value to their diet but also acts as good chew toys.
  15. Choy
  16. Cold cuts
  17. Good soy products include soy milk, soy yogurt, soy tofu, and soy crumbles.
  18. Popsicles which are non-fat and sugar-free are great for chipmunks on hot summer days.
  19. Strawberries, scrambled eggs, and rice
  20. Brown rice especially adds good nutrition to chipmunks’ diet.
  21. Butternut squash
  22. Cooked sweet potatoes
  23. Cream cheese on crackers
  24. Dog food (readily available in a pet store and choose the low-protein type)
  25. Small dog treats:- Small treats or large treats cut into small portions can be fed to the chipmunks. These are ideal because of their ready availability at pet stores and should be fed in small portions.
  26. Dried bananas (high in potassium)
  27. Dried cranberries (effective for chipmunks prone to urinary tract infections)
  28. Dry cereal and Puffed rice cereals (avoid sugary choices)
  29. Dry rolled oats
  30. Bird eggs
  31. Thistle flowers and flower bulbs of certain plants are also an integral part of Chipmunk’s diet.

From providing an adequate amount of proteins, and carbohydrates to preventing overconsumption of fats, caution must be practiced in devising an efficient feeding habit for your fluffy chipmunks. We advise you to always make sure take your vet’s advice when to comes to food, for example, dairy like yogurt for your tiny friends.

The above-mentioned sources of food adequately would have solved your confusion on what do chipmunks eat. Sources that fulfill the nutrition as well as provide a variety of options to choose from for feeding pet chipmunks or a wild one on one of your garden’s backyard trees. Therefore, your chipmunks will be active and healthy like never before.

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