How Long Chipmunks Live (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 to 4 years

Chipmunks are small animals having a similar appearance to squirrels. Chipmunks are recognized by their chubby cheeks. These animals usually live for two to four years in general. The Siberian chipmunks live for six to ten years. 

The lifespan of a chipmunk depends on the environment, which it lives in. If a chipmunk gets enough food and favorable climatic conditions, it can live up to ten years, provided the condition that it stays protected from predators throughout the timespan. The factors that affect a chipmunk’s lifespan primarily are unfavorable weather conditions, attacks of predators, and diseases.

How Long Do Chipmunks Live?

Types Of Chipmunk Lifespan
    Eastern Chipmunk                     2 years
    Siberian Chipmunk                    2-5 years
    Townsend’s Chipmunk                    9-10 years
    Alpine Chipmunk                    2-3 years

Chipmunks live for 2-3 years in the wild. If held captive and taken care of, they live up to 8 years. The female chipmunks have two estrous cycles per year. One cycle occurs during the month of March or April, and the other cycle takes place in the month of July and August. The mortality rate of newborn chipmunks is around 30 percent.

Chipmunks are shy animals. They tend to live lonely, out of sight. The only time when male and female chipmunks are together is the time of breeding. Female chipmunks release a scent when they are ready to breed. Male chipmunks may mate with more than one female chipmunk. 

Chipmunks hibernate in the season of winter. Although they don’t sleep for the whole season, they spend a lot of time hibernating in their burrows. They wake up, come out to warm up their body, urinate and defecate outside, and again, they go back to the state of hibernation. With global warming increasing day by day, the temperature is increasing gradually, which causes problems for chipmunks. 

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According to a recent study, chipmunks don’t hibernate due to the increase in temperature. It is also found that the chipmunks who follow the normal hibernation process are expected to live a longer life than the chipmunks who avoid hibernation due to the increase in temperature. The former chipmunks are expected to live longer, and the later ones mostly die by that spring only.

Why Do Chipmunks Live For So Long?

One of the main reasons for their short life span is their agility. Most of them die being trapped in the backyard of houses. Chipmunks are undoubtedly cute animals, but they are really annoying when they come inside the house and run here and there. Therefore, people use traps to get rid of these cute little creatures in their houses and backyards. 

Another reason for the death of the chipmunks is that they are more prone to come under the wheels of vehicles. The vehicle drivers can’t detect these small creatures on the road, and they don’t stop the vehicles. Chipmunks can’t tolerate the vehicle’s weight, and it becomes one of the reasons for their death. Squirrels live on the tree, and chipmunks live on the ground, so the chance of chipmunks getting killed by the vehicles is obviously higher.

The gestation period of the chipmunks is 31 days which is also a reason for their short lifespan. The primary requirement of nature, reproduction, which ensures the continuity of species is fulfilled, and thus, a long lifespan of chipmunks is not necessary. We need to care for these cute little animals and be careful not to become the reason for their death on the road while driving.

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Global warming also affects the death of chipmunks. Chipmunks who don’t hibernate in winter due to the rise in temperature of the atmosphere in recent years most probably die that same spring only. Chipmunks who continue normal hibernation in the winter are expected to live longer than the former type.

Conclusion

Chipmunks are cute little shy animals who like to live in their own space, without any attention from other animals. They only breed with their female species, and then again, they go back to their own space in order to live the solitary life they like. The average lifespan of chipmunks is two to three years. Some chipmunk species live for nine to ten years. 

Wild chipmunks are expected to have a shorter lifestyle than the ones who are held captive and taken care of. Chipmunks hibernate in the winter season. They don’t sleep for the entire season like bears, but they come out to warm their bodies, urinate and defecate outside. 

Reference

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00303202
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0300962971900983
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