Squirrel vs. Chipmunk

Squirrel vs. Chipmunk

Squirrel and chipmunk are types of rodents that belong to the squirrel family. There are 25 species of chipmunk. All chipmunks are native to North America, except Siberian chipmunk which originates from Asia. There are 285 species of squirrel that are native to North and South America, Eurasia and Africa. Chipmunks can be found on the edges of the woodlands and in the backyards, while squirrels can be survive in various types of habitats except in very dry deserts and very cold, polar regions. Chipmunks and squirrels play important role in spreading of seed in the wild. Even though they have similar morphology and lifestyle, chipmunks and squirrels differ in many aspects:

Color of the Fur

Chipmunks have brown fur with yellowish, brown and black stripes on the head, back and tail. Ground squirrels have stripes only on the back, while tree squirrels have brown, gray or red fur, without any kind of stripes.

Size and Shape of the Body

Squirrels have slender body with large eyes and long, bushy tail. Smallest squirrel is 3 to 4 inches long and weighs 0.35 ounces. Other squirrels are much larger. They can reach 12 to 20 inches in length and 1.5 to 2 pounds of weight. Chipmunks have small body, big eyes and long tail that is bushy only at the tip. They can reach 5 inches in length and 2 to 4 ounces of weight.


Squirrels like to eat acorns, nuts, seeds, buds, bark, pine cones, fungi and leaves. Some squirrels consume insects and small vertebrates when other sources of food are not available. Chipmunks are omnivores. They eat fruit, seed, grass shoots, insects, worms, small frogs and eggs.


Chipmunks produce bird-like chirps, clucks and high-pitched sounds for communication. Squirrels communicate via series of rapid clicking sounds and whistle-like calls.


Chipmunks nest in the burrows in the ground that can reach 30 feet in length. Ground squirrels build nests on the surface of the ground, while tree squirrels nest in the cavities of trees. Squirrels often enter attics, chimneys and houses to find or to store food. Since they are noisy and prone to leave a mess behind, they are often classified as nuisance.


Chipmunks mate at the beginning of the spring and at the end of summer and produce 2 litters per year. Pregnancy lasts 31 days and ends with 2 to 5 babies. Squirrels mate once or twice per year. Pregnancy lasts 35 to 42 days and ends with 2 to 6 babies, depending on the species.


Chipmunks can survive 3 years in the wild and 9 years in the captivity, while squirrels can survive 5 to 10 years in the wild and 10 to 20 years in the captivity.

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