Are Chipmunks And Hamsters Related?

are chipmunks and hamsters related

Chipmunks and hamsters are adorable and fluffy animals and make great, friendly pets! Upon first glance, you may be convinced that a chipmunk and a hamster must be related, as they have numerous similarities. Are chipmunks and hamsters related, and what are some similarities and differences?

Chipmunks and hamsters are unrelated, as they belong to two different families. Although they are mammals, chipmunks belong to the Sciuridae family, making them relatives of squirrels. Hamsters belong to the family Cricetidae, which means they are related to rodents, including mice, voles, and rats.

When you look at chipmunks and hamsters, you will find more and more differences as you go along. First, let’s look at what families chipmunk and hamsters belong to and some similarities and differences these two cute critters have!

Chipmunks And Hamsters: Are They Related?

Chipmunks and hamsters fall into the Mammalia class, which consists of all mammals. While chipmunks and hamsters belong to the order known as Rodentia, meaning they fall into an order containing all types of rodents, they belong to entirely different families. 

Where chipmunks are part of the squirrel family, also known as Sciuridae, hamsters belong to the Cricetidae family. 

Chipmunks are mainly classified through a single genus known as Tamias. However, some prefer to separate these chipmunk species into Neotamias, Euthamias, and Tamias genera.

Regarding hamsters, several genera are categorized under subfamilies, such as Mesocreus, which is known as golden hamsters. In addition, desert and dwarf hamsters are categorized under the subfamily of Phedopus. However, most hamsters are categorized as Cricetinae.

So, even though chipmunks and hamsters can be classified as rodents due to their similarities, they are not directly related.

Which Has The Most Species?

At the time of this writing, there are over 65 species of squirrels throughout the United States. This includes tree squirrels, flying squirrels, ground squirrels, marmots, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. 

There are over 20 species of hamsters, with only five species kept as pets. The following are the most popular species people get as pets:

  1. Dwarf Roborvski
  2. Campbell’s Dwarf Russian
  3. Syrian (Golden) Hamster
  4. Dwarf Winter White Russian
  5. Chinese Hamster

The other species are wild hamsters that live in the wild. 

Similarities Between Chipmunks And Hamsters

Chipmunks and hamsters have some similarities, which may surprise you! These similarities are mainly due to them being both rodents. 

Let’s take a look at these similarities:

Cheek Pouches

Hamsters and chipmunks have cheek pouches where they store their food until they can deposit it into their burrows. This gives them the incredible ability to store large amounts of food quickly. Both hamsters’ and chipmunks’ cheek pouches can reach enormous sizes!

Nesting Tendencies

Instead of creating traditional nests, chipmunks and hamsters burrow into the ground or trees. These burrows will act as a shelter for them and their young, where they will take their food to store it safely away from other animals.


All rodents, including hamsters and chipmunks, have open-rooted dentition. This means that their teeth never stop growing throughout their lives. 

They have incisors, which are ideal for gnawing. Hamsters and chipmunks are widely recognized for these traits.


Hamsters and chipmunks are natural omnivores. Although they do not have the same diets, they will consume plant-based and non-plant-based food, which will help them remain in good health. 

Chipmunks will feed on flowers, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds while consuming worms, bird eggs, frogs, insects, and even small birds! 

Due to the hamster’s smaller size, they will mainly feed on mealworms and cricket as a source of protein. Additionally, hamsters will eat plant-based foods such as seeds, grass, and grains.


Chipmunks and hamsters can survive and thrive in wild and man-made conditions, which is why they make good and popular choices for pets. However, because of these attributes, they are seen as two of the toughest rodents.

Differences Between Chipmunks And Hamsters

Although chipmunks and hamsters have notable similarities, the differences can quickly outweigh these similarities. 

Let’s look at the things that make chipmunks and hamsters so different from one another:


Chipmunks are known for their excellent eyesight, and they can detect motion instantly! They see best during the daytime and watch the ground for the shadows of their predators.

However, chipmunks will not leave their burrows at night, as they can only see well during the daytime. 

On the other hand, hamsters do not have good eyesight. They are blind at birth, and even when they reach maturity, they can only see a few inches past their noses. Therefore, hamsters will instead rely on their sense of smell.

Night Activity

Due to chipmunks being almost blind during the night, they are seen as day dwellers. They will remain in their burrows at night, making them diurnal animals. 

On the other hand, hamsters are nocturnal animals, causing their activity to increase during the nighttime.

Life Span

Chipmunks and hamsters have completely different lifespans. Where the average lifespan of a chipmunk in the wild can range anywhere from ten years or older, the average lifespan of a wild hamster is only two to three years. 

Visual Appearance

Chipmunks and hamsters look incredibly different and can be easily identified from each other. 

While chipmunks will have a brown-reddish color with one black strip running down their back, hamsters can be in many shades, such as brown, black, white, yellow, grey, or even mixed. 

Chipmunks have a white belly with a white stripe below and above their eyes. In contrast, hamsters have a single color throughout its body. In addition, hamsters have short tails, while a chipmunk will have much more fluffy tails. 


Of 25 known species of chipmunks, 24 of them are located in North America. The only species of hamster that cannot be found in North America is the Siberian hamster, located in several parts of Asia. 

They can be found in almost every region of North America, and they live in a wide area, from Canada to Mexico. They tend to inhabit places with a stable food source and few predators. 

The first hamsters were found in Syria, although they can be found all around the globe today with 24 recognizable species!

Final Word

Hamsters and chipmunks are adorable creatures, but they have many differences that set them apart. However, although they may not be related, they also have similarities. 

These animals are popular household pets and can make great companions, depending on what you’re looking for!

Related Articles


Recent Posts