Chipmunks may look cute and adorable, but they are wild creatures first and house pets second. Unless they are tamed from birth, they may act aggressively when touched. But this doesn’t mean they cannot be kept as pets. If you are prepared to devote time and patience, sharing your home with a chipmunk makes perfect sense.
Chipmunks are native to North America. Out of the 25 known species, only the Siberian chipmunks originated in Asia. These striped creatures can survive in the wild for about three years, but in captivity, they can live for up to eight years.
How do you choose the right chipmunk?
When choosing a chipmunk as a pet and you plan to keep a couple of chipmunks or a group of them, be prepared to witness fights. When a group of chipmunks are kept in one enclosure, they may start to display aggression, which can lead to fights that could turn fatal. Chipmunks’ social behaviours may differ depending on their personalities. To maintain the peace, keep two male chipmunks together from the start and avoid getting two females to live in the same environment.
How do you keep a chipmunk healthy?
Chipmunks are curious, busy, and energetic little creatures. They enjoy moving around so they have to be provided with a large space to do all the things they would usually do in the wild, such as climbing and foraging for food. If they do not get the necessary exercise, they could develop stereotypic movement disorder, which is a disorder that involves non-functional motor behaviour like continuous circling.
Healthy chipmunks stay active and have shiny coats and bright eyes. Whether in the wild or in captivity, they typically increase in weight during autumn as this is a preparation for their coming hibernation. Therefore, they need additional reserves to help them survive throughout their dormant state.
Chipmunks love their freedom and they don’t want to be confined in small spaces or in cages for long periods. To keep them healthy, you must allow them to explore and run around in open spaces.
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What are the common illnesses that may affect chipmunks?
You have to keep an eye on your pet’s health condition if you plan to own a chipmunk as a pet. These health conditions are common in chipmunks:
- Stereotypical movements disorder
- Colds and pneumonia
- Skin conditions like skin inflammation
- Unusual swellings
- Bite wounds
- Fungal infections
- Elephants teeth
If your chipmunk shows any of these signs, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Giving chipmunks medication that is meant for other animals could be fatal.
Examining, handling, and bites
Despite their fun personality, chipmunks are difficult to handle. Unlike dogs, chipmunks do not enjoy being held or picked up, making examinations difficult to conduct. If you need to examine your pet, do it at night when the lights are dim. Additionally, always wear a pair of protective gloves because even the most docile chipmunk will bite if it is unwell or suffering from an injury.
Chipmunks are very fast and may escape your grip quickly. For this reason, before getting a chipmunk, you must consult the vet if he or she is willing to check and treat your pet in case it falls ill or gets wounded or injured.
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- Pet Insurance: Cost, Reviews, and Guide
- Ways to Help with Vet Bills for Low-Income Family
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How much does it cost to own a chipmunk?
Owning and taking care of a chipmunk can be quite costly. Although prices may vary, expect a higher initial expense, followed by a yearly spend of £100.
Lastly, if you get a chipmunk, remember to invest in a good and sturdy vacuum cleaner for discarded nutshells and husks.