Where Do Chipmunks Sleep?

December 23, 2023

Chipmunks are members of the squirrel family and a subspecies of them, the Eastern chipmunk, is prevalent in North America. These small rodents resemble squirrels, but are smaller, with an average length of 4-7 inches (0-18 centimeters) and a tail that can be up to 5 inches long (12-13 centimeters). They typically weigh 1-5 ounces (28-142 grams).

Chipmunks hibernate in deep burrows with multiple exit tunnels that include food storage areas; rooms used for storing nutshells and seeds they collect during the fall; bathrooms; and even birthing/nesting areas. Their tunnels are usually located under a rock, log pile, brush or piles of yard waste. These shelters offer protection from predators like foxes, hawks and coyotes.

During hibernation, a chipmunk’s breathing, heart rate and body temperature drop to near freezing. The animal will awaken occasionally to eat, urinate and defecate. This enables the chipmunk to replenish its energy stores. It also gives the creature a chance to warm itself up and reorient its senses. This pattern of waking and sleep continues until the end of winter when the chipmunk emerges from its tunnel to begin its springtime feeding habits.

Despite the common misconception that chipmunks are true hibernators, they actually experience a form of intermittent hibernation called torpor. This is similar to the way a bear enters hibernation, but it isn’t a full-blown hibernation. During torpor, the chipmunk will be able to survive without eating for days at a time.

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