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Can Chipmunks Climb Trees? (Quick Answers)

There are many species of animals found in the wild, there are numerous species that rely on trees as a food source or as shelter. Out of those animals, one of the most adorable is the chipmunks who belong to the squirrel family. 

They are small and agile creatures who interact with greeneries around them. You can learn how chipmunks can affect trees in their habitats in the abstract below:

Can chipmunks climb trees?

Chipmunks are excellent climbers of trees in order to gather nuts or to escape predators. Despite their activities on trees, chipmunks make their homes either on the ground or in burrows underground. Chipmunks are quite adept at climbing trees and can be noticed to forage acorns and hickory nuts.

Naturally,  chipmunks are found in locations with deciduous forests to shrublands but recently due to the growing urban areas, they have been noticed to live in suburban and urban areas as well. 

Since they are quite small creatures, they look for areas with enough cover, so they are generally found in areas with lots of logs, rocks, or overgrown bushes.

Despite their sharp skills in climbing trees and agility, they tend to spend most of their time on the ground. Although they can climb trees, they do not do so on a regular basis since most of their food is gathered from areas in the ground. 

Since chipmunks are omnivores, they feed on fruits, seeds, nuts, berries as well as insects, worms, lizards, and bird eggs.

Chipmunks usually gather their food from these different locations as well as trees and then store them in their pouch-like cheeks and then carry them back to their den. It should be noted that, although trees are a source of their food – they do not primarily depend on it. 

If there is sufficient food present for them on the ground, chipmunks would rarely climb trees to gather food.

Since chipmunks are small in size, that means they are drastically vulnerable to larger animals on the ground and from the sky and fall prey to them easily if they are not in covered areas. 

To quickly escape from ground predators such as snakes, foxes, and coyotes – chipmunks are commonly known to climb trees to get to higher ground. Trees with scattered branches also provide them protection from hawks above.

Why do chipmunks climb trees?

Chipmunks are small animals belonging to the squirrel family and similar to squirrels, chipmunks also climb trees. But the motivation and intention behind climbing trees may vary from other tree dwellers. The reasons are explained below:

Gather seeds and insects:

Chipmunks are known to be omnivores who eat different things ranging from fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, and also insects, worms, beetles, lizards, and eggs from bird’s nests. 

These items are usually found in different areas of the ground which is why chipmunks do not need to climb trees to gather food as almost everything is available on the ground.

However, trees do have lots of fruits in them and are often filled with nests of insects and birds. Although not often, chipmunks do climb trees in order to gather these fruits, hunt insects, or look for eggs in bird’s nests.

Escape from predators:

Chipmunks being small in size attracts many predators both in the ground and from the skies. On the ground, they are constantly under the threat of falling prey to predators such as snakes, foxes, and coyotes – whereas they are under the threat of hawks from the skies.

Without any proper covering, the survival rate of chipmunks from these predators is very slim – which is why the chipmunks use trees as protection both from the ground and the sky.

They climb up the tree to stay safe from ground predators, while the clustered branches of the trees cover them from predators in the sky.

Do chipmunks nest and live in trees?

Although chipmunks can climb trees and are adept at doing so, they do not get up on trees very often. Whenever they climb trees, they primarily do it to avoid or escape predators from the ground or the sky. 

Trees are also good sources of food for chipmunks – providing them with fruits, nuts as well as insects and bird eggs.

However, it is very uncommon for chipmunks to be up in the trees for a prolonged amount of time. Chipmunks are known to be ground dwellers who make their dens on the ground or in burrows underground. 

Despite being good tree climbers, their activity on trees is quite limited, let alone build nests and live on them.

But there is an exception to that, the chipmunk who is from the Sciuridae family of squirrels are known to have high activity in the trees and are often referred to as ‘tree squirrels’. These ‘tree squirrels’ usually build their nests in the trees to avoid the harsh coldness of the winters.

What kind of trees do chipmunks live in?

Most chipmunks interact with trees for food or protection but they don’t consider trees as a viable option for their nest

Chipmunk nests can usually be found on the ground or on burrows underground where they store their collected food and seek shelter during the harsh cold of the winter.

But there are chipmunks known as tree squirrels who do not have the ability to resist the cold in burrows underground, which is why they resorted to making nests in trees. But these chipmunks are picky and will not pick just about any tree to make a nest on. 

Chipmunks usually pick locations and trees where there is lots of cover, such as trees in woodlands, shrublands, coniferous forests, and deciduous forests.

Many chipmunks also choose their nesting tree based on what fruits they bear so they can harvest their food from the tree itself. Since the diet of the chipmunks includes seeds and fruits, they usually prefer to nest in coniferous trees such as pine and fir trees.

Are chipmunks good climbers?

Chipmunks are small animals that share the same ancestors as squirrels – and similar to squirrels, they also have excellent tree-climbing abilities. Although they do not climb trees regularly, they can rapidly climb a tree to escape predators. 

They have very sharp claws that allow them to get a firm grip on the surface – making them such good climbers for not just trees but just about any other surface as well.

Do chipmunks cause damage to trees?

Chipmunks do not usually interact with trees enough to cause harm to them but in the case of smaller trees and vegetation – the behavior of the chipmunks can indirectly affect them.

Chipmunks have a habit of burrowing on the ground and feeding on vegetation, which causes the small trees to get damaged and the soils will have vacant holes in them as well. 

Their burrowing creates tunnels that allow excess water to collect into flower beds and tree roots which cause them to rot away or get infected with fungus or other diseases.

How to keep chipmunks out of fruit trees?

Chipmunks are omnivorous creatures, which means that they eat both fruits and insects they find both on the ground and on trees as well. This is why fruit trees are often under the threat of chipmunks, but they can be discouraged to stay away by the following ways:

Snip away extended limbs of your trees:

Besides climbing, chipmunks are quite notorious for being able to jump very long distances horizontally. 

So if your trees have outstretched branches that are in contact or close proximity to other tree’s branches or buildings, then chipmunks can jump across into your trees. 

An effective way of preventing them from jumping into your fruit tree is by pruning and snipping off the extended branches that are close to other trees or buildings.

Restrict tree climbing from the ground:

If you don’t have any other trees or buildings around your fruit tree, then the only way chipmunks can try to reach the fruits in your trees is by climbing them. 

So you should take preventive measures for tree climbing from the ground when the tree is inaccessible by jumping. You can wrap the tree with slippery sheets of metal and form a tubing around the tree high enough to prevent chipmunks from climbing.

Spray the fruits with Cayenne pepper spray:

If none of the above works well, you can directly work on the individual fruits to protect them. Do not use poison since harming chipmunks is illegal in some states. 

You can instead use cayenne pepper spray to spray on the fruits to discourage chipmunks from collecting or eating them.

Final thoughts

Chipmunks can be seen to climb trees sometimes in order to collect nuts or to avoid predators. Chipmunks live on the ground or in burrows underground, despite their tree climbing activities. Chipmunks are known for foraging acorns and hickory nuts while they are climbing trees.