Chipmunks are also popular as pets. Here you can find out everything you should know about the origins of chipmunks, how they are kept and cared for.
Chipmunks belong to the squirrel family and thus to the rodents; their closest relatives are, for example, squirrels and prairie dogs. The small rodents measure 20 to 25 cm from the nose to the tip of the tail; The bushy tail alone makes up 8 to 11 cm of this. At 50 to 120 g, the croissants are true flyweights. Everyone is familiar with the five dark stripes that adorn the back of a croissant. The fur between the stripes is light. In nature, the rest of the squirrel is white, beige, or reddish-brown. Through targeted breeding, there are also cinnamon-colored and white animals nowadays.
Originally the animals come from the Asian region, from where they spread via Mongolia to Finland. There are also stocks in Germany, but these probably go back to abandoned or leaked animals. In the wild, the squirrels live mainly in coniferous forests, where they inhabit underground tunnel systems with several chambers. Here people sleep, collect food and seek protection from enemies. Unlike in the film, chipmunks are downright loners and vehemently defend their territory against all intruders.
Since the small rodents are such bundles of energy, the motto “the bigger, the better” applies to the cage. If you put them in a small cage, they can develop behavioral disorders. It should be at least 2 m in height and 1 m in width and depth. The height is particularly important, as croissants often work their way up to lofty heights in nature and even inhabit tree hollows. Two walls of the cage should be closed and two should be open. The best way to do this is to use wire mesh, which should have a mesh of max. 15 mm in order to minimize the risk of injury. The closed walls provide protection against drafts and offer additional security.
First of all, of course, it is important to equip the cage with basic accessories. This includes the right litter, several houses, and suitable nesting material, feed, and drinking vessels. In addition, the croissant needs a toilet (which greatly simplifies cleaning), a salt lick stone, and a sandbox. As I said before, chipmunks move a lot and like to climb for a lifetime. Therefore, in addition to the basic equipment, you should fill the cage with all kinds of climbing opportunities. Branches, boards, hammocks, ropes, and pipes. The possibilities are numerous. By the way, a balance bike is absolutely not for croissants. So that the constantly growing teeth can be gnawed off, you also have to pay attention to enough wear and tear.
So that the animals are fully utilized, you can have fun with a few simple movements. Egg cartons and toilet paper rolls can be used to build hiding spots for treats. Here the croissant has to do something before it can get the delicious nuts. Self-made caves are also gladly accepted. In addition, chipmunks need a dip in the earth or a digging box to be happy. A suitable flat vessel is filled with peat or coconut fiber substrate suitable for small animals, some croissants also like chinchilla sand. These earth baths are important for grooming and chipmunks like to use. Some even set up their sleeping quarters here for hibernation.
To fully utilize the rodents, you should allow them to run freely in a quiet room. It is important to examine the room beforehand for all sources of danger. All holes have to be plugged because the small rodents seem to squeeze through every tiny crack. By the way: bathrooms and kitchens are completely unsuitable due to the many sources of danger.
Before the squirrel can be released into its free-range, it should already have settled in completely in its cage. This is important so that it sees the cage as its territory and place of retreat and so that it also returns here after the free run. This familiarization takes around 4 to 8 weeks and should be adhered to in any case. If you shorten this time, the squirrel sees the entire free-range area as its territory and will try to defend it aggressively against all intruders.
When it comes to the whole free-wheeling issue, patience is important! The croissant decides for itself when it is ready to leave the cage. So if the cage door is open and the croissant does not move out, you must never shoo it or lift it out. However, you can try to lure it out with nuts in front of the aviary or a conditioned call.
It also helps if the croissant is tame to a certain extent. The rodent’s favorite food, which should only be hand-fed, helps here. This period of time also differs depending on the croissant and it can take days or months before the croissant picks the nut from your hand. Also important here: patience!
In nature, chipmunks have a very varied diet, which should be imitated when keeping them. In addition to grains and nuts, seeds, vegetables, and animal foods are very popular. Care must be taken to cover the croissant’s nutritional needs, as both over-and undersupply can lead to hair loss. By the way, high-fat foods such as nuts and sunflower seeds don’t bother the croissants much. They consume enough energy through their active everyday life. Important: Chipmunks are prone to diabetes – foods or treats rich in sugar should therefore not be offered very much. You can also find suitable chipmunk food in stores.
Chipmunks are interesting pets and easy to watch because of their daytime activity. You have to accept, however, that they only see people as feeders and that they will never build a friendship. So they are not cuddly animals or seek body contact on their own. In addition, they take up a lot of space and place more complex demands on food and furnishings than rabbits or guinea pigs. Chipmunk husbandry should only be considered if you can meet these requirements and are sufficiently informed.