Squirrels vs. Chipmunks

  • By reComparison Contributor
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Difference between Squirrels and Chipmunks

When you are out walking in nature you may catch a glimpse of a rodent or two. The random fuzzy mammal you encounter would generally be a squirrel or possibly a chipmunk. They both belong to the rodent family. There are some similarities between these animals as far as the family that they belong to. However there are many things that hold them apart as completely different animals. The way they look, what they eat, hibernation habits, are a few things that holds them apart as individuals among the rodent family.

Squirrels
Chipmunks

Eating Habits

Being in the rodent family they both have four sharp incisor teeth along with flat teeth in the back to help in grinding harder foods such as nuts. They also have 4 four toes on the front feet and five on the back. Although they eat the same foods, mostly nuts, berries, seeds, mushrooms, bird eggs and nuts, squirrels simply eat their fill and will store the rest away someplace for later consumption. Chipmunks have special pouches in their cheeks that they can store food in while they are foraging. Chipmunks burrow tunnels underground which are used for hoarding food for later use.

Hibernation

While squirrels are true hibernators, chipmunks are not. A squirrel like many hibernating animals will eat a large amount of food to build up enough fat to live on during the winter months. A chipmunk on the other hand will store food in tunnel within its underground burrow to eat during the long winter months. Often chipmunks stay underground during the winter but remain somewhat active.

Appearance

Probably the greatest difference between squirrels and chipmunks are the looks.  Squirrels and chipmunks are related, but chipmunk are smaller have lost traits such as squirrel's bushy tail, perky ears and silken fur. Squirrels usually weigh around 8 ounces and chipmunks are half that size. Chipmunks are smaller and faster.  A chipmunk has 5 dark brown stripes that run from its head to its tail. A squirrel has 13 stripes also dark brown in color that run the entire length of its body. The squirrel does not have the stripes on its face like a chipmunk does. Another difference between the two is where they live. Chipmunks prefer wooded areas where it is easy to find nuts and berries, while squirrels prefer grassy areas.

Similarities and Differences

Even the casual observer will notice that squirrels and chipmunks look like cousins because they pretty much are. Squirrels tend to be a bit more social than chipmunks. Major differences include:

  • Squirrels are noticeably larger than chipmunks and have different markings.
  • Squirrels tend to eat as much as possible to store body fat during the winter, while chipmunks stow away foods in tunnels for consumption during the winter months.
  • While squirrels are true hibernators, chipmunks will only sleep through the coldest spells of winter.
Which of this animals has stripes covering their face?
  • Squirrels
  • Chipmunks
 
 

Discuss It: comments 6

  • Guest
  • Jeannie wrote on May 2010

Chipmunks are active animal species and are very active during winters. Squirrels are bit lazy and over-eat during winters and stay inside only.

  • Guest
  • amanda wrote on April 2012

Yes thay do and like you think

right!

  • Guest
  • you wrote on November 2012

Thnx for the help

This has been very helpful!! I am writing a compare and contrast essay on squirrels and chipmunks and needed information for the Venn-diagram! Thanks a million!!!

  • Guest
  • Joyce Stermer wrote on March 2014

I have seen only one baby squirrel all winter. Usually I have them at my bird feeders all winter long, but this winter I have only seen the one baby. Why is that? It seems like an odd time of year for there to be babies also. It does not go up to the feeder, but eats what is spilled onto the deck.

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