Chipmunk on snowy field
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Do Chipmunks Hibernate In The Winter?

As the colder months approach, chipmunks undergo interesting behavioral changes that allow them to adapt and survive in the chilly weather. These furry little creatures are known for their energy and agility, but during the fall, they begin to prepare for winter.

During winter, chipmunks constantly hunt for food, their instincts driving them to gather as much sustenance as possible to prepare for a long and cold season. Let’s first look at how they prepare for the winter and explore how chipmunks can survive such extreme temperatures.

Key Pest Points:

• Chipmunks prepare for winter by gathering and storing as much food as possible such as nuts, seeds, and berries.

They have a unique adaptation to survive the winter. Instead of hibernating, they enter into torpor, slowing their breathing rate and reducing body temperature to conserve energy.

• Chipmunks also use burrows or other underground shelters to protect themselves from cold temperatures and provide insulation.

How Do Chipmunks Prepare for the Winter?

To prepare for colder temperatures, Chipmunks become less active. This means they don’t travel far but stay close to their home burrow.

They also grow a thicker coat of fur which helps them stay warm and conserve energy. In addition, chipmunks will find large caches of food, such as nuts and seeds, to store in their burrow.

These food sources will be accessible throughout the winter when they are less active and need an energy source. This allows them to survive without exhausting their energy when searching for food. 

Where Do Chipmunks Hibernate?

Even though chipmunks do not completely hibernate, they enter a state of dormancy during which their body temperature and metabolic rate drop drastically. This is known as torpor and can last anywhere from one to four days.

During this time, chipmunks will stay in their burrow underground, which is much warmer and more insulated than the outside environment. Every few days, chipmunks wake up to eat and use the bathroom but may stay underground for extended periods. This behavior helps them to avoid frigid temperatures and conserve energy.

Eastern Chipmunk with an acorn in his mouth.

What Do Chipmunks Eat During the Winter?

Chipmunks are mainly herbivores, meaning they feed on berries, fungi, plants, and nuts. However, chipmunks may also feed on insects, birdseed, and other food sources available in the winter.

How chipmunks survive in the winter is by stuffing their cheeks with nuts, seeds, and fruit to bring back to their burrow, which will be their steady food supply throughout the cold months. They must then defend their food stashes from other animals, such as squirrels, birds, and even other chipmunks. 

When Do Chipmunks Hibernate?

Chipmunk hibernation begins in the late fall, around October or November. They will remain in this state until spring, when the temperatures rise, and food sources become more readily available.

This adaptation allows chipmunks to survive long, cold winters without expending too much energy. During this time, they stay close to their burrow and feed off their stored food sources.

When Do Chipmunks Wake Up From Hibernation?

These critters typically wake up from their torpor in the spring when temperatures become warmer. As the days get longer and food sources become more abundant, chipmunks will begin to emerge from their burrow and resume their normal activities.

This usually happens around March or April, depending on where they live. During this time, chipmunks will become more active once again and search for food to store up for the following winter.

Chipmunk climbing a tree with fungi growths

Preventing Chipmunks From Invading Your Home

Don’t be fooled by their cuteness. Chipmunks can be quite a nuisance if they enter your property. Luckily, you can take a few steps to prevent this from happening.

Ensure all entry points are sealed off: Check any cracks or crevices around windows and doors and any air vents. If you find any gaps or holes, seal them with a caulk or hardware cloth.

Trim back any vegetation: This can help keep chipmunks away from your house since they are likely to enter if there is overgrown vegetation in the area. 

Install a motion-activated light: Lights can help scare away chipmunks lurking around your home.

Maintain an orderly garden: Make sure to keep your garden free of debris and clutter, as this can provide the perfect hiding place for chipmunks.

Keep food out of reach: Chipmunks can be attracted to any food source, so store them in containers or sealed off from the outside.

Using natural repellents: Items such as garlic, peppermint oil, or coffee grounds can help repel chipmunks from your property. 

These simple steps can help keep chipmunks away from your home and protect you from potential infestations. You can keep these critters at bay with the proper precautions and understanding chipmunk behavior.

FAQ

Do chipmunks come out during the winter?

Yes, chipmunks come out during the winter, although they remain relatively inactive. During this time, they stay close to their burrow and feed off their stored food sources.

Why do chipmunks suddenly disappear?

Chipmunks may suddenly disappear when they enter a state of torpor during the winter, which allows them to conserve energy and avoid the extreme temperatures outside their burrow. They typically wake up from this state in the spring.


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