Chipmunks are small, highly social rodents that are common to almost all areas in the United States. Though many people are enchanted by chipmunks' cute appearance and friendly disposition, chipmunks do not make good pets and should never be taken out of the wild. Chipmunks taken from the wild are susceptible to health and behavioural problems and can spread disease to their owners. In some municipalities, owning a wild animal is illegal. However, chipmunks tht ahave been bred in captivity may be kept as pets and wildlife rehabilitators frequently provide temporary care to orphaned or sick chipmunks. If you've found an injured chipmunk, contact a veterinarian or a local wildlife rehabilitator.
Cage and Housing
Provide the chipmunk with a large cage. The cage should have ramps and platforms for the chipmunk to jump and climb on. The minimum acceptable cage is 3 feet high by 2 feet wide, and many pet speciality stores sell ferret and chinchilla cages that are suitable for chipmunks as short-term homes. Cover the cage with mesh to prevent the chipmunk from escaping. Chipmunks are skilled escape artists and will quickly wiggle through cage bars. Give the chipmunk a nesting box. Those designed for small birds such as cockatiels and parakeets are excellent choices. You can purchase these at most pet supply stores.
Keep the cage away from electrical sockets, cords and other things the chipmunk can grab and chew. Give the chipmunk lots of chew toys. Like most rodents, these animals' teeth grow for their entire lives and they need to chew items to wear their teeth down. Toys designed for rats and chinchillas are perfect for chipmunks.
Chipmunks will quickly become sick if fed an inappropriate diet. Orphaned chipmunks who have not yet been weaned need to be fed through a syringe and bottle. They can easily choke on their food, so only trained wildlife rehabilitation experts and people who are being guided by a vet should attempt this.
Adult chipmunks should eat broccoli, apples and other hard fruits and vegetables. Supplement this diet with a commercial chipmunk food and provide the chipmunk with nuts and seeds. Chipmunks should have constant access to water, and most will readily drink from a water bottle designed for rodents.
Chipmunks are naturally skittish and will quickly try to escape when they are held by humans. If your chipmunk is going to be re-released into the wild, it is vital that you avoid holding it or socialising it with people. A natural fear of people will help keep it safe in the wild.
If your chipmunk is so injured that it cannot be re-released or is bred in captivity and will be kept as a pet, socialise it with people by giving it a treat such as dried fruit every time you approach its cage. Never punish biting and avoid making sudden movements. Don't force the chipmunk to be held or petted and always allow the chipmunk to approach you rather than simply grabbing it.
Chipmunks are not typically infected with rabies, but are susceptible to worms and respiratory infections. Locate a qualified small animal veterinarian to give the chipmunk a full exam twice per year. The chipmunk may need deworming treatments and vaccinations. Any chipmunk that is wheezing, has runny eyes, has sores, is lethargic or has diarrhoea needs to see a vet immediately.
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