Can Chipmunks Climb Trees? (Here’s What They Do!)

Photo: Susan B. Sheldon / Shutterstock

Chipmunks are the smallest members of the Sciuridae family. This family includes tree squirrels, woodchucks, and prairie dogs; yet, chipmunks are mainly seen on the ground.

Although they usually live in underground burrows, can chipmunks climb trees?

Chipmunks are capable of climbing trees and typically live in wooded areas or other places with plenty of cover from predators. Still, they’re not the best climbers, are prone to injuries from falls, and usually stay close to the ground. However, chipmunks are willing to climb almost anything, including downspouts and bird feeders, in pursuit of food. 

Continue reading to learn about chipmunks’ climbing abilities, whether they nest in trees, and why they might want to live in your backyard.

We’ll also discuss a few methods of chipmunk prevention in case you’d prefer not to have them around.

Are Chipmunks Good Tree Climbers?

Chipmunks can climb trees, downspouts, bird feeders, and anything else that holds the promise of food.

Even though they’re relatively good climbers, they’re not the best. They’re known to fall and injure themselves when leaping from trees.

Just because chipmunks can and do climb trees sometimes doesn’t mean they spend a lot of their time in trees. They prefer forested areas, but are mostly ground feeders. 

How High Can Chipmunks Climb?

It’s not known exactly how high chipmunks are capable of climbing. Still, when they climb trees, they usually try to stay close to the ground. 

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Chipmunks can jump around three feet, but their legs aren’t quite the same as squirrels’ legs, although they’re members of the squirrel family.

Because of the difference in their legs, they’re not as well-adapted to climbing impressive heights or jumping huge lengths.

Do Chipmunks Nest In Trees?

The most common environments for chipmunks to live in are places with lots of shrubs or trees, as well as suburban areas with plenty of cover from potential predators. A common misconception is that chipmunks nest in trees.

In reality, most chipmunks live in underground burrows. Some chipmunks make homes in logs, bushes, or nests, but burrows are most common. 

These burrows have lots of chambers and tunnels and can be as large as three feet deep and 30 feet long. 

Some of the chambers in the burrow are used for hibernation, although chipmunks usually only hibernate for a few days at a time during the winter season. 

Other chambers are used for food storage. Chipmunks have a varied diet; they’re omnivores that eat insects, berries, nuts, flowers, bird eggs, seeds, snails, and more. They mainly store seeds and nuts in the storage chambers within their burrows. 

The entrance to a chipmunk’s burrow is about two inches wide. Chipmunks are careful to move fresh dirt away from the burrow’s opening so that predators don’t notice it is there.

They’re not very social creatures and put a lot of effort into guarding their burrows against other chipmunks.

What Attracts Chipmunks To Your Yard?

If you have chipmunks in your yard, that’s probably because they were attracted to various food sources there.

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These are a few of the things that may have brought chipmunks to your yard:

  • Birdseed
  • Grains such as corn
  • Nuts
  • Seeds from plants
  • Pet food
  • Human food
  • Mushrooms
  • Insects
  • Bark from shrubs

Even if there are chipmunks in your yard, you don’t usually need to worry about large infestations.

Chipmunks are very territorial and do their best to keep others away from their burrows. Generally, you won’t see more than ten chipmunks per acre of land.

Chipmunk Prevention

If you want to prevent chipmunks from moving in, there are a few things you can do. First of all, never leave food outdoors, even birdseed or pet food, unless you keep it in containers that are rodent-proof.

Next, if you have a flower garden, consider planting bulbs that aren’t appetizing to chipmunks. These would be options like alliums and daffodils.

Try removing areas of cover from your yard as well. This could include the removal of rock and wood piles as well as trimming plants.

Effective Chipmunk Repellents

If chipmunks have already made their home in your backyard and are proving to be a nuisance, there are a few repellents you can use.

You can put mothballs around your garden or apply thiram (a fungicide) to your plant bark, stems, or bulbs.

Another option is to mix a gallon of water with three ounces of Epsom salt and one teaspoon of Lysol and spray it around the areas where you see chipmunks.

Burying hardware cloth around the foundation of your house and other areas of your backyard can prevent chipmunks from burrowing.

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Chipmunks can climb trees, but they’re not the best at climbing. In fact, they can only jump about three feet and often injure themselves due to falls. 

Most chipmunks live in forested areas or other places that provide sufficient cover from predators. Although they prefer to stay close to the ground, they’re willing to climb anything if they think they’ll get food by doing so.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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