Tamias (genus)

Overview of Chipmunks

The most commonly available chipmunk is the Siberian Chipmunk (Tamias sibiricus) however rules restricting the ownership and breeding of these came into force in the UK in 2016. It is no longer legal to buy or sell Siberian Chipmunks.

Chipmunks are small, striped squirrels that measure around 18-25cm, a third of this being tail. Their wild range covers North America and Asia and they play an important part in forest ecosystems by their hoarding and harvesting of various seeds. They live in elaborate burrow systems in loose colonies.

Chipmunks are sometimes known as ground squirrels and do spend a significant amount of time foraging on the forest floor. They have prominant stripings with a wider colour variation in the Eastern Chipmunk as shown in the pictures to the right.

They can live around 6-10 years in captivity and can become relatively tame, although their general speed and small size does not make handling of them easy. The require a large aviary and plenty of enrichment to be happy.

Some chipmunks can be tamed down quite well, depending on whether they are used to an aviary or indoor environment. They do not make good pets for young children; see our section on handling chipmunks.

Your Chipmunks diet is quite simple, although they do appreciate a variety and it is best to provide multiple food and watering stations to avoid arguements.