As I was walking around a local pet store recently, I happened to see a Siberian Chipmunk racing around its cage, performing acrobatics that entertained a growing crowd gathered around its cage. It got me to wondering – do chipmunks make good pets? How would I choose one? What involves taking care of one?
Purchasing a chipmunk
First and most importantly, find a reliable and reputable breeder or pet retailer. A local veterinarian may be able to help you locate one. When you do find one that offers chipmunks, be sure to select an active one with bright eyes, a shiny coat and an undamaged tail. This will help ensure that your pet is healthy. Next, choose a chipmunk that is fully weaned, which means it is at least 6 to 8 weeks old, but no older than 16 weeks (as younger pets are more friendly and gentle, and can be acclimated more easily to you and your family).
You’ll also need to be sure a local veterinarian can provide checkups for your chipmunk.
Care of chipmunks
Chipmunks are very active and not at home in small cages. The best habitat would be a large outdoor area fenced with a fine mesh with an attached indoor section. Fencing should extend into the ground since chipmunks are known to be good diggers.
Chipmunks need a varied diet, with a standard seed-based food as a base. They’ll eat fruits and vegetables, too, so those should be provided at least once per week. The pets shouldn’t be fed every day, to encourage foraging behavior. Your chipmunk will store extra food when it is fed. Be sure that the food does not contain too many nuts or sunflower seeds, as these have high fat and calorie content. A standard rodent drip bottle will provide an adequate water supply, and you can also include a salt lick.
Handle the chipmunk often, but never handle the chipmunk by its tail! It could be damaged easily or break off. The pet needs a lot of human contact, especially when young, to become a tame and friendly pet.
So, to answer that first question, “Do chipmunks make good pets?,” yes. They’re not exactly low maintenance, though. They require a lot of attention, room, and a variety of food. As with any pet purchase, it’s best to do your research and make sure you have the time, money, and patience to provide a happy home to a new pet.