Chipmunks vs. squirrels: squirrels in the trees, chipmunks on the ground


Squirrels and chipmunks look so much alike that it’s easy to mistake them. But look closely and you’ll see the differences: chipmunks are smaller than squirrels, have stripes on their heads and shorter tails. They also make different sounds.

Chipmunks, squirrels, groundhogs, and prairie dog mice are all members of the squirrel family. But over millions of years of evolution, squirrels and chipmunks have become very different animals in order to adapt to different environments. For example, chipmunks spend most of their time on or under the ground, while squirrels prefer to stay in trees. Why is this?

Chipmunks vs. squirrels: Habits

Chipmunks and squirrels have different habits. Chipmunks live mainly in forests, meadows, and other environments, where they usually move about on the ground, digging holes with their front paws and collecting food with their hind paws. Squirrels, on the other hand, live mainly in trees, where they are good climbers and jumpers, balance their bodies on their tails, and gather food such as pine cones and tree seeds to store in their burrows or underground for the winter.


Chipmunks like to eat carrots, potatoes, groundnuts, spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, and gherkins. However, some chipmunks just bite these carrots and groundnuts into pieces as if they are playing again.


Squirrels like to eat vegetarian, occasionally also eat meat, vegetarian mainly to red pine, spruce, fir, larch, pine and hazelnut, acorns, dried fruit and seeds, meat mainly to insects, larvae, ants, eggs and other small animals, etc., in the case of food, the squirrels have other choices.


Chipmunks vs. squirrels: Food Storage

Chipmunks use their cheek pouches to transport and store food. When wintering underground, the entrances are usually well camouflaged and the spaces inside can be up to 9 meters long. Only one chipmunk lives in each space, which provides a great deal of security for chipmunks that need to hibernate. Before the cold winter months arrive, chipmunks store large quantities of nuts in their holes, stuff their mouths, and curl their bodies into small balls to lower their body temperature and even their heart rate. That way, when they need to wake up suddenly or feel cold, they have nuts to refuel with.


Squirrels, on the other hand, have the habit and skill of storing food. Once fall arrives, the seeds and fruits in the forest gradually come to harvest time, the squirrels are coincidentally busy, put the picked seeds or fruits into the chosen tree holes, and of course, dig holes in the ground to store the picked food, and when it is stored for a certain period of time, cover the holes with soil or fallen leaves to prevent loss. Squirrels have many warehouses, but no matter how icy the external environment, the squirrels stored food are intact, will not rot and spoil. When the cold winter comes, other animals are actively looking for food, but the squirrels are comfortable playing all over the tree branches, until they are tired and hungry to look for the food that has already been stored, and then eat a big meal. When they are full, they go back to their nests and sleep soundly.


Chipmunks vs. squirrels: Competition

Squirrels live in holes in sycamore trees, which are so leafy that no one can discover the holes under the branches, except, next door, the chipmunks. Last year, the woodpeckers brooded in the hole, and the squirrels lived in a rock crevice in the dirt can on the opposite side of the tree. Not only was the crack leaking on all sides, but it was also frequented by snakes and bugs, so the squirrels lived in fear and trembling. Waiting for the woodpecker brood finished, the spring of this year, the squirrel moved in. Grubbing a lot of artemisia, only to set up a warm home.


So far, the squirrels have chased away several waves of intruders, and it seems that last year’s woodpecker brood. The squirrel met the woodpecker with some trepidation, hiding in a tree hole and refusing to show his head, waiting for the woodpecker to come and explore, then rushed up and clawed hard. The woodpecker left the hole several times after being hit by the black fist of the tree, and the woodpecker left unhappily.


Chipmunks have also been among those who coveted tree holes, but squirrels are not afraid of them. When the chipmunk wanders into the hole, the squirrel rushes out to chase the intruder, brave as a hero defending his home. Chipmunks are about the same size as squirrels, except they don’t have the big tails of squirrels, and have a shorter furry tail, but they are just as agile as squirrels. Waiting for the squirrel to rush out, the chipmunk has long run to the other side of the tree, the whole body stuck to the trunk, like a dried bark, if not for the three black lines on the back, it would be difficult to distinguish. The other end of the tree, squirrels as chipmunks as the body close to the trunk, squirrels darker color, no pattern on the body, camouflage effect is better than the chipmunks, a big tail to give it more points, looks more majestic.


The two rats were fully concentrated, no one dared to move. The moment they move, they start to run around the tree trunk, their paws rubbing against the tree trunk to make a sharp sound, it is impossible to say who is chasing who. As if there is an agreement, after running a few laps, suddenly stopped at the same time, each changed position, but still face to face across the tree, the vigilance in their eyes do not dare to relax.