what do chipmunks eat

What Do Chipmunks Eat? A Comprehensive Guide to Their Diet

Have you ever stopped to watch a chipmunk scurrying around your garden and wondered, “What do chipmunks eat?” These pint-sized mammals are more than just cute faces; they have complex dietary habits that are fascinating to explore. Whether in the wild or as a pet, a chipmunk’s diet can range from nuts and fruits to even insects.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the varied and intriguing world of chipmunk cuisine, covering their favorite foods, what to avoid, and best practices for feeding them. Prepare to become a chipmunk dietary expert!

Types of Foods in Chipmunks’ Diets


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You might think chipmunks are simply nut aficionados, but these adorable critters have a diet that’s much more diverse. Ranging from various types of nuts to fruits, vegetables, and even some sources of protein, their palette is surprisingly broad. This culinary versatility allows them to adapt to a variety of environments, from forests to suburban gardens.

Chipmunks are opportunistic eaters, meaning they take advantage of what’s readily available in their surroundings. While they are known for stuffing their cheek pouches with food to store for later, what they fill them with can differ depending on the location and season.

The importance of this varied diet can’t be overstated. Like all creatures, chipmunks require a range of nutrients to maintain their energy levels, especially since they are quite active and have a fast metabolism. Their diet naturally provides them with essential proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to their survival and ability to thrive.

What Nuts Do Chipmunks Eat?


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If you’ve ever watched a chipmunk scurry around, you’ve probably seen it munching on or collecting nuts. These are a staple in their diet, acting as an excellent source of essential fats and proteins. But what kinds of nuts are these adorable rodents munching on?

  • Acorns: Perhaps one of the most iconic nuts for chipmunks, acorns are rich in fats and easily found in wooded areas, making them a primary food source.
  • Hazelnuts: These are another favorite. The hard shell provides a bit of a challenge, but chipmunks are adept at breaking them open.
  • Pine Nuts: Often found in pine cones, these seeds are a crucial part of their diet in certain regions. Chipmunks are known to collect pine cones and extract the seeds later.
  • Almonds: While not as commonly found in the wild, chipmunks will eat almonds if they come across them, usually in suburban settings where humans might have dropped them.

The nutritional value of these nuts can’t be underestimated. Acorns and hazelnuts, for example, are rich in healthy fats that provide long-lasting energy, which is crucial for chipmunks, especially as they prepare for winter hibernation.

The protein content helps in tissue repair and growth, making it easier for them to recover from the energetic activities they frequently engage in. Therefore, nuts are not just a dietary preference for chipmunks but a significant contributor to their survival strategies, especially during the harsh winter months when food is scarce.

What Fruits Do Chipmunks Eat?


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While nuts may be the cornerstone of their diet, fruits offer chipmunks a necessary balance of vitamins and hydration. In the wild, they often forage for fruits that are native to their local environment.

  • Apples: Chipmunks are quite fond of apples, both wild and cultivated. These fruits offer a good amount of fiber and sugar, providing quick energy.
  • Berries: Whether it’s strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, chipmunks don’t discriminate. Berries are easier to eat due to their size and provide essential vitamins like vitamin C. They are also a good source of antioxidants which may help fight off diseases.
  • Grapes: These juicy fruits are a chipmunk favorite and offer hydration along with sugars. However, grapes can be relatively high in sugar, so they are more of an occasional treat in a chipmunk’s diet.

The sugars in fruits provide immediate energy for chipmunks, who are known for their energetic, bustling nature. Besides, the water content in fruits helps keep them hydrated, especially during warmer months when water sources may be scarce.

Like the nuts they consume, fruits are often stored in their burrows for future consumption, especially as preparation for winter months when these foods are not readily available.

What Vegetables Do Chipmunks Eat?


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Not to be left out of the chipmunk’s diet are vegetables. These provide crucial nutrients that might be missing from a nuts-and-fruits-only diet.

  • Carrots: These root vegetables are not only crunchy but also rich in vitamin A. While not a typical wild food for chipmunks, they’ll gladly eat them in gardens or if offered by humans.
  • Tomatoes: Interestingly, chipmunks do eat tomatoes. These fruits (yes, they are technically fruits but often considered vegetables in a culinary context) offer a different set of nutrients, including vitamin C and other antioxidants.
  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, lettuce, and other leafy greens are rich in various nutrients like calcium and iron. These greens can be an important part of balancing the chipmunk’s diet, providing essential minerals not typically found in nuts or fruits.

Vegetables are crucial for providing balanced nutrition to chipmunks. They offer dietary fiber that aids in digestion, and the different vitamins and minerals contribute to overall health and well-being. It’s common to find chipmunks raiding gardens to snack on these vegetables, which adds another layer of interaction between these critters and their human neighbors.

What Do Chipmunks Eat in the Wild?


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The diet of a wild chipmunk is a study in resourcefulness and adaptability. While we may associate these critters with a diet rich in nuts, fruits, and vegetables, their menu extends further, particularly when they’re in their natural habitats.

  • Seasonal Foods: The availability of foods often changes with the seasons. During spring and summer, chipmunks have an abundant supply of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seeds. As autumn approaches, they shift their focus to collecting and storing nuts for the winter months.
  • Insects and Small Animals: Surprising to some, chipmunks do consume protein in the form of insects like beetles and grubs, as well as small animals like baby birds or eggs when they can find them. This intake of animal protein is less frequent but important for their diet.
  • Fungi and Plant Material: In some regions, chipmunks also consume various types of fungi and plant materials, including roots and bulbs. These often provide necessary nutrients that may be missing from other food sources.

The dietary habits of chipmunks in the wild are also influenced by factors such as competition for food and natural predators. Their eating patterns are thus designed not only for survival but also to evade predators and minimize risk.

What Do Pet Chipmunks Eat?


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If you have the privilege of caring for a pet chipmunk, their dietary needs can be a little more controlled but should still closely mimic what they would consume in their natural environment for optimum health.

  • Commercial Chipmunk Food: Specialized commercial foods are available for pet chipmunks. These typically contain a balanced mix of grains, seeds, and nuts that offer the protein and fat necessary for their well-being.
  • Fresh Fruits and Veggies: Just like their wild counterparts, pet chipmunks also enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. These should be given in moderation and always cleaned thoroughly to remove any pesticides or harmful chemicals.
  • Supplements and Treats: Sometimes, vitamin and mineral supplements may be advised by a veterinarian. However, these should be administered cautiously and according to expert guidance. Treats can also be given but sparingly, and it’s essential to know which foods are safe.
  • Foods to Avoid: Equally important is knowing what not to feed a pet chipmunk. Foods high in sugar, salt, or fat should be avoided, as should any processed foods not specifically designed for chipmunks.

While pet chipmunks live in a more controlled environment, they still require a balanced diet to ensure they receive all the nutrients they need. Their diets should be as varied and as close to what they would eat in the wild for them to live a healthy and active life.

What Do Chipmunks Like to Eat the Most?

Like to Eat

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While chipmunks are generally opportunistic and will eat a range of foods based on what’s available, they do have their favorites. If you ever observe a chipmunk that seems particularly excited or keen on hoarding a specific type of food, it’s probably one of these:

  • Acorns: These are often considered the gold standard in a chipmunk’s diet. High in fats and easy to store, acorns are frequently hoarded in large quantities in their underground burrows for winter sustenance.
  • Sunflower Seeds: Another favorite, sunflower seeds are rich in oils and nutrients. They are easier to handle due to their smaller size and are often a top choice when available.
  • Berries: Chipmunks have a sweet tooth and are particularly drawn to berries like strawberries and blueberries. These fruits are easy to consume and offer immediate energy from their natural sugars.
  • Insects: On the protein side, chipmunks have a strong liking for insects like crickets and mealworms. These are often consumed fresh but can also be stored for later.

These favorites are not just delicious to chipmunks but are also highly practical. They are either easy to consume and offer immediate benefits, like berries, or are easy to store and offer long-term benefits, like acorns and sunflower seeds. If you’re trying to attract chipmunks to your garden, offering some of these favorites is a surefire way to get their attention.

Foods To Avoid


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Chipmunks may be opportunistic eaters, but not all foods are suitable or safe for them. If you’re interacting with chipmunks, either in the wild or as pets, it’s crucial to know which foods to avoid:

  • Chocolate: This is toxic to many animals, chipmunks included. It contains theobromine, which they cannot metabolize effectively, leading to poisoning.
  • Processed Foods: Items like chips or crackers are not suitable for chipmunks. These foods often contain salts, preservatives, and artificial flavors that can be harmful.
  • Onions and Garlic: These vegetables contain substances that can be toxic to small animals like chipmunks.
  • Caffeine and Alcohol: These substances can have severe adverse effects on their system and should be strictly avoided.
  • High Sugar and High Fat Foods: Foods like cookies or fried items can cause digestive issues and lead to obesity and other health problems in chipmunks.

Knowing what foods to avoid is as crucial as knowing what they like to eat. Inappropriate foods can lead to immediate health risks or long-term issues. Always adhere to their natural diet as closely as possible and consult experts or veterinarians if you’re unsure about the suitability of a particular food item.

How to Feed a Chipmunk


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Feeding chipmunks can be a joy, whether you’re looking to attract these adorable creatures to your garden or you’re caring for a pet. However, how you go about feeding them is crucial for their well-being and your enjoyment. Here’s a more in-depth look at the various aspects to consider:

1. Safe Distance

It’s essential to remember that chipmunks are wild animals and should be treated with respect. Maintaining a safe distance while feeding them minimizes stress and prevents them from becoming too accustomed to human interaction, which could endanger them in the long run. A distance of at least a few feet is generally advised.

2. Hand Feeding vs. Placing Food

Although it may be tempting to hand-feed these cute creatures, it’s usually better to place the food on a flat surface like a rock or a low-hanging bird feeder. This reduces the risk of accidental bites and helps the chipmunk feel less threatened. However, in cases where trust has been established over time, hand-feeding can become a special bonding activity.

3. Time of Day

Chipmunks are diurnal creatures with peak activity in the early morning and late afternoon. Timing your feeding to coincide with these periods increases the likelihood of successful interactions. It also allows you to observe their fascinating behaviors most vividly.

4. Quantity

Overfeeding chipmunks can not only lead to health problems for them but also attract other animals like raccoons or even bears. Therefore, it’s best to provide small quantities and observe how quickly the food is consumed. This can help you gauge how much to offer in future feeding sessions.

5. Storage

If you’re caring for a pet chipmunk, proper food storage is essential. Keeping the food in a cool, dry place helps prevent spoilage and mold growth, both of which could be detrimental to a chipmunk’s health. Airtight containers are usually recommended.

6. Variety

Chipmunks enjoy a varied diet, and providing different types of food can make their eating experience more enriching. This is not just about offering different types of nuts, but also includes rotating between fruits, vegetables, and even occasional protein sources like insects.

7. Cleanliness

Hygiene should never be overlooked when feeding chipmunks. If you’re using a feeding dish or platform, regular cleaning prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and mold. It also reduces the chances of spreading diseases between different chipmunks that might come to feed.


Understanding what chipmunks eat is a fascinating journey into the dietary habits of one of nature’s most adorable creatures. From their love for nuts to their seasonal favorites, their diet is as diverse as it is intriguing.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.