Ground Squirrel Vs Chipmunk

Ground Squirrel Vs Chipmunk – 6 Major Differences | Animalfunkey

Ground squirrel vs chipmunk, both are from the same family, Sciuridae. Well, people think they are the same, or they get confused while recognizing whether it is ground squirrel or chipmunk, but let me tell you, these two are different. However these two are similar to each other to some extent, but actually, these two are different species.

So in this article, you will learn about the main differences between ground squirrels and chipmunks that how different they are from each other. We will discuss their physical appearance, habitat, distribution, and lifespan. But first, we will know the basics about both of them.

Introduction To Ground Squirrel Vs Chipmunk

Ground Squirrel

Ground squirrel is one of the primary types of a squirrel from the Sciuridae family. If we talk about their species and subspecies, there are around 23 species and 119 subspecies of ground squirrels. Most of them are native to the United States. Ground squirrels inhabit fields, pastures, forests, hillsides, grassy areas, and rocky mountains, and they can also be seen in public parks. 

Introduction To Ground Squirrels


Except for Siberian chipmunks, all are native to North America. There are three genera of chipmunks; Tamias (eastern chipmunks), Eutamias (Siberian chipmunks), and Neotamias. More than that, there are 23 subspecies of the Neotamias genus, most of which are native to western North America. Chipmunks usually inhabit forests, mountains, deserts, and plains. They also dig burrows to live, and the place where they live are called dens. 

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Introduction To Chipmunks

Ground Squirrel Vs Chipmunk Main Differences:

Ground Squirrel Vs Chipmunk

Habitat and Environment:

Ground Squirrel:Chipmunks:
Ground squirrels prefer to live mostly in open areas such as forests, hillsides, grasslands, hillsides, pastures, woodlands, open fields, golf courses, public parks, and playgrounds. They spent most of their time searching and eating food. Ground squirrels also dig burrows for living. They prefer to live in those places where there is plenty of food. Chipmunks prefer to live in thick bushes, ephemeral forests, edges of forests, meadows, fences, and fields. But they spent the most time in their dens. The burrows they dig are around 25-30 feet in length. They gather food and make their nestings for living in their long dens. And they mostly hide in their burrows to avoid predators.

Well, both have different habitats and environments. However, both are from the same family but prefer to live in their preferred place. 


Ground Squirrel:Chipmunks:
Ground squirrels have short legs, strong claws, small rounded ears, and typically long semi-bushy tails. The color varies among species, such as gray, pale brown, reddish, or dark brown, and their fur color is brownish-gray. Some ground squirrels can be entirely black, and some have solid colors or patterns on their bodies, like light or dark stripes or dapplings.These tiny rodents have long black stripes covering their body to its back. They are reddish-brown with white bellies. At the center, they have two black and a single white line. In total, they have five dark stripes. Chipmunks are small rodents that have small dense fur of reddish rust color. Their eyes are shiny black, and they have black noses. Chipmunks have short fluffy tails.

If we look at them together, there is not much difference. Because they are from the same family, this can be the reason for their many similarities. There is a fundamental difference by which you will know whether it is a squirrel or a chipmunk. Ground squirrels don’t have long stripes, but chipmunks have white and dark lines that make a pattern-like structure on their body. So from this, you can easily compare both of them.

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Size and Weight

Ground Squirrel:Chipmunks:
Ground squirrels can measure up to 18 cm in height, and in length, they can measure up to 40-55 cm without the tail. Their weight can measure between 0.041-11 kgs.Well, there are around 25 species of them, and all are of different sizes. The average length of chipmunks can be approximately 6-8 inches. Siberian chipmunks are around 18-25 cm long, and the least chipmunks can be about 11 cm. They have an average weight of about 70-150 grams.

If we compare both, ground squirrels are bigger than chipmunks in size and weight. And there is a much difference in weight between them as chipmunks are much smaller than ground squirrels, so the weight margin between them is significant.


Ground Squirrel:Chipmunks:
Ground squirrels have an average life expectancy of around 5-10 years in the wild. Depending on the habitat, there can be a difference in their ages. California ground squirrels can live a maximum of 6 years but 3-4 years typically. In captivity, ground squirrels can live for around ten years.The average life expectancy of chipmunks in the wild can be around 2-5 years, while in captivity, they can live up to 8 years.

They both have a significant age difference. Ground squirrels can live double life than an average chipmunk. This is because chipmunks have many predators compared to ground squirrels and are not as agile as ground squirrels. Ground squirrels are so fast, and they can’t easily be hunted. Also, ground squirrels can climb trees; whenever an animal is chasing them, they climb up on trees to save themselves.

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Ground Squirrel:Chipmunks:
Ground squirrels hibernate in winter from September to March. During this period, they forage food near their dens or burrows. They also store food for winter in their holes. Ground squirrels are also considered actual hibernating animals.They hibernate in winter, but we can’t tell them true hibernating animals, as they sleep and also go out to search for food and go out every day to eat. However, they also have stored food, and when they run out of food, they go out to find food again.

Ground squirrels are true hibernating animals as they live without eating those days, but not chipmunks. On the other hand, chipmunks wake up every day to eat and sleep, so they are not true hibernating animals. So hibernation can be a significant difference between them.


Ground Squirrel:Chipmunks:
Ground squirrels mainly feed on barley, nuts, oats, and seeds. Other diet includes small insects, birds, eggs, grains, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, crickets, and different fruits.Chipmunks mainly feed on nuts, seeds, and berries. They will also eat fungi, barley, cereals, acorns, pine nuts, corn, pecans, hazelnut insects, arthropods, plants, and fruits like apples, pears, and bananas.

Well, there is not a significant difference in diet between them as both are rodents and of the same family. But ground squirrels will eat a high-protein diet often and can also eat snakes. And chipmunks’ diet is limited. They will not go after their predators.


1- What is the giant ground squirrel in North America?

The Arctic ground squirrel is the largest of all ground squirrels in North America, with an average size of 12.5 to 19.5 inches in length. They weigh around 1 – 1.3 pounds.

2- Can ground squirrels mate with chipmunks?

No, they don’t mate with each other. As they don’t have an interest in each other, they ignore each other if they ever meet during the day.

3- Do chipmunks mate for life?

Chipmunks don’t mate for life because they are primarily alone and are also defenders of their territory.

4- Do ground squirrels mate for life?

No, ground squirrels don’t mate for life. Because males do not raise their babies, they only mate with females during mating season and then go away.

5- How to identify ground squirrels and chipmunks?

The main difference between both is their body appearance. Chipmunks have white and dark stripes on their body, while squirrels do not. So by this, you can quickly identify both of them.


Ground squirrels vs chipmunks, however, are from the same family, but there are many significant differences between them. Their primary differences are in size, weight, lifespan, and hibernation. Ground squirrels are more potent than chipmunks and can climb trees, while chipmunks do not.

So, we have explained everything about ground squirrels and chipmunks. Ground squirrel vs chipmunk, now you should know what the major difference between these two is

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