Squirrels and chipmunks both belong to the same large family known as Sciuridae. Since they belong to the same group, they have plenty of similarities, so how would one differentiate between chipmunks and squirrels. Well, before we go discussing chipmunk vs. squirrel, we should know what chipmunks and squirrels are:
Chipmunks are rodents of the family Sciuridae that are small and have stripes all over their body primarily found in Asia, North America. They have distinct stripes on the head, back and tail and are mammals who are omnivores meaning a chipmunk eats both plant and animal. Tamias is the scientific name of a chipmunk, and they range from 6 to 12 inches in length and 1 to 5 ounces in weight.
More than 25 species of the chipmunk and depending on the species, chipmunk can be from grey to reddish color and dark, light stripes on the side of their face,back and tail.
They generally gather food on the ground areas with underbrush, rocks,logs and hide from predators like eagles, hawks, snakes.
Squirrels are also a member of Sciuridae and include many types like tree squirrels, ground squirrels. Just like chipmunks, they are also omnivores and mammals. But their sizes range from 8 to 36 inches. They weigh 0.5 to 4 pounds, and there are various types of squirrels.
Tree squirrels, ground squirrels, rodent squirrels, etc. They all have mostly the same diet but vary in size due to climatic conditions. Their diet increases in certain foods as ground squirrels eat nuts, leaves, etc., and insects and caterpillars.
Flying squirrels also eat fruits and nuts and are an adaptable type of animal. They are big as a teacup. Tree squirrels are the most common and ample type of squirrel.
Read About: Flying Squirrel
Difference Between Chipmunk and Squirrels
Despite being in the same family and having so many similarities, chipmunks and squirrels are different, but it is great if you can tell the difference between them. If not, don’t worry, we will explain the main differences to you.
Tree Squirrels are larger than chipmunks and don’t have stripes, while chipmunks are smaller and have distinct stripes. All the other squirrels have stripes, but on just their body, no head stripes like on chipmunks. The common difference that anyone can spot is size. Squirrels range from 8 to 36 inches, while chipmunk’s size ranges from 6 to 12 inches.
Despite the stripes, you can quickly tell the difference between a chipmunk and other squirrel types except for ground squirrels because all other squirrels don’t have stripes and are bigger while ground only has stripes on the body and may be of the same size as chipmunks. But you can differentiate as there are no stripes on top of the ground squirrel’s head.
Read More About : Eastern Grey Squirrel
Squirrels can survive easily in forests, open woodlands, parklands, and other places. With their mobility and quick reaction time, they can easily survive in critical situations. They usually live in holes left in trees and expand them as they see fit. Their nests are filled with leaves, twigs, moos, etc. On the other hand, chipmunks can also live in these places, but instead of trees, they find a place with lots of logs and stumps.
Squirrels fully hibernate, so they don’t need to find the food for winters like a chipmunk who spend their day finding food to eat and night, and they only usually hibernate. Squirrels can double their body weight, making room for more food, known as a fat reservoir.
Chipmunks eat anything, including corn, seeds, mushroom, berries, fruit, and other vegetables. The point is they love to eat both vegetable and animal matter. They usually hibernate as described above so they can store the food for winter nights. They will also eat incest, earthworms, snails, salamander, anything that helps them store food for winter.
Whereas squirrels only like to eat plants, and their most favorite and primary choice is mast. The mast is the fruits and nuts of trees. They eat other kinds of food too, like mushrooms, flowers, buds, etc., if they can’t find their primary choice. As mentioned earlier, squirrels rely on their fat reservoirs to survive the cold season.
Chipmunk and squirrel both mate twice a year, and they give birth after 1.5-2 months later, and the same can be said for squirrels. There is almost nil difference between the reproduction process between squirrels and chipmunks.
Food, predators, and climatic conditions affect the lifespan of every living creature. The same goes for squirrels and chipmunks. Only 25% of squirrels live through their first year, and the survived squirrels become experienced. So, they can live another 4-5 years after their second year. But most squirrels don’t live longer than seven years as they grow old and weak, affecting their reflexes to survive in a predatory world. The same can be said for chipmunks. The only key difference is that chipmunks can live in the predatory environment for almost 2-3 years, while in captivity, they can live as long as eight years.
Furthermore, chipmunks and squirrels don’t usually meet with each other; they ignore each other’s existence. Though they have many similarities but their style of living or habitat is quite different. They can be considered neighbors.
Extra Reading : Red Squirrel
Chipmunk makes various calls, including chuck calls, high-pitched chips. Their vocality is quite excellent and straightforward as you can hear their beautiful chirps that are just like birds. On the other hand, Squirrels typically make que-que-que sounds, and if they are in danger, they make kuk-kuk-kuk sounds. A common vocal that experts notice is the sound that is accompanied by a flick of the tail.
Effect On Surrounding:
Squirrels are most likely considered annoying as they eat through cables, bird seeds that are there stored. For instance, you are growing a tree for fruit, and soon as you see your tree has grown and is ready to produce fruit, but a squirrel came and ate it. Another example would be seeds that you planted were eaten by squirrels after being dugout. Whereas, Chipmunks are quiet beings; they don’t do this kind of thing. While both of them look cute and adorable compared to squirrels, chipmunks are considered peaceful animals.
For Extra Reading: Do Squirrel Eat Tomatoes?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1:Do chipmunk and squirrel get along?
They generally ignore each other. Since you already know the difference in their habitats and diet, they rarely meet each other, and if they do, they usually ignore.
Q2:Will squirrel eat chipmunk?
Generally no because they rarely come across one another, and squirrel’s primary food choice is the mast. But there is a type of squirrel known as a red squirrel that is known for eating chipmunks.
Q3:What is the difference between a chipmunk and a squirrel?
Habitat, diet, vocals, lifespan are the key differences between chipmunk and squirrel. For a detailed explanation, read the above article.
Q4:How to keep squirrels and chipmunks away?
Hot peppers, pureed garlic, or synthetic-spray specifically made for pests are the common repellant that keeps squirrels and chipmunks away.
Q5:Which one is more of a nuisance, a squirrel or a chipmunk?
Despite the cuteness, squirrels are more of a nuisance than chipmunks. As they eat through cables, destroy stocked-seeds, etc.