Chipmunks are more widespread than you may realize. These animals are common in North America and large areas of Europe and Northern Asia. Chipmunks are commonly seen throughout spring, summer, and autumn, but chipmunks in many places seem to disappear during the winter. So where do they go in these cold months?
Chipmunks in cold climates retreat into their burrows during the coldest winter months. They store food in their burrows during the summer to sustain themselves through the lean winter. Some chipmunks hibernate during this time and only wake every few days to eat.
Because chipmunks live in so many places means that they survive in a wide variety of habitats. This means that not all chipmunks follow the same behavioral patterns.
Nevertheless, many people wonder where chipmunks go when it gets cold, as they are far less commonly seen in the coldest months of the year.
Where Do Chipmunks Go In The Winter?
Chipmunks live in some areas of the world that get very cold in the winter.
These are such small animals, and they are usually so active that when they disappear over the winter, some people become concerned about the safety of these animals.
When the winter months roll in, chipmunks that live in cold regions retreat underground. Chipmunks are master burrowers and collect large food reserves during the spring and summer months when food is abundant.
This food is stored in larger larders underground in preparation for winter.
Are Chipmunks Still Active In The Winter?
When it gets cold, these animals move into their burrows, become significantly less active, and feed on the food they have collected throughout the year.
Not all chipmunks behave this way, however, as there are some chipmunks in parts of the world that do not experience frigid winters.
These chipmunks will still gather and store food underground to eat when there is less food available to forage.
However, they will continue to forage for whatever food they can find, as the weather is not cold enough for them to retreat underground.
If you live in a region with cold winters, you’ve likely wondered where the chipmunks go. They’ve likely located underground where it’s warmer. Then, they’ll resurface in spring when the weather gets warmer.
Do Chipmunks Eat In The Winter?
Chipmunks are among the most forward-thinking rodents out there, as these small squirrels understand there is far less food in the winter months, regardless of the temperature.
They take the opportunity to gather extra food into underground larders during the summer months.
These rodents will eat what they forage and then store anything extra that they find in their underground burrows. Chipmunks even understand what food will keep fresh for long periods without going bad so they can store enough food for the winter.
Some chipmunks have been seen gathering and storing more than 165 individual acorns in a single day.
That haul alone is enough to sustain a single chipmunk for a long time.
With that said, chipmunks do eat in the winter. When chipmunks keep themselves underground for the cold and lean winter months, they survive by eating the food they stockpiled during spring and summer.
This stored food means that chipmunks can remain underground for the entire winter if needed and have plenty of reserve food to sustain themselves.
Do Chipmunks Hibernate In The Winter?
We have learned that chipmunks retreat into their burrows during the winter, where they have stored up food for the sparse months of the year.
But what do they do in these burrows during the winter?
Not all chipmunks hibernate. The ones that hibernate during the winter are those that live in the coldest regions.
Hibernation allows the chipmunks to significantly lower their heart rate and metabolism, allowing them to conserve energy and heat to get through the freezing winter.
Chipmunks are too small and do not have enough overall body mass to hibernate throughout an entire winter continuously, so the species of chipmunk that exhibit this behavior wake up every few days to eat before falling back into hibernation.
For this reason, the food collected by the chipmunk for the winter months is still essential, even for chipmunks who hibernate through the winter.
Chipmunks that live in warmer environments that do not experience frigid winters do not hibernate.
They retreat into their burrows at night and may remain underground during very cold days, but they spend the winter collecting what food they can find.
These chipmunks also have a food reserve to get them through the lean months, but they will still forage throughout the day to avoid eating all of their stored food and make the food they have last longer.
Do All Chipmunks Survive The Winter?
Chipmunks eat well in winter, keep themselves underground for most of the cold months, and some even hibernate but do all chipmunks make it through the winter?
Only about 87% of chipmunks survive the harshest winters. However, chipmunks who live in areas with a relatively warm winter climate usually always survive, provided they gather enough food for the winter.
Those that live in areas with frigid winters do not always make it through.
Some areas experience temperatures so low that the ground freezes deep enough to reach the burrows of chipmunks, lowering their body temperature so much that they do not make it through the winter.
Some chipmunks do not find enough food to make it through these months, some get trapped underground, and some are dug out and eaten by predators.
Not all chipmunks survive the winter, but the same is true for many species of animals.
The rodents breed enough to recover their numbers when spring rolls around.
Chipmunks disappear in the winter. However, they usually go underground to keep warm and eat their food reserves until the cold months pass.
They are incredibly elusive in the winter as they are more vulnerable, which is another reason why they are seldom seen during this time of year.
If you usually have chipmunks in your yard and are nowhere to be seen in the winter, don’t worry about them. You will soon see them again when spring comes; there may even be a few new additions to the group when they emerge.
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