Difference Between Squirrel and Chipmunk

Squirrel vs Chipmunk

Squirrels are an important group of animals, and they belong to the Order: Rodentia. Chipmunks share some features with squirrels, while some of those are different from each other, enabling to identify them correctly. However, both squirrels and chipmunks sound alike, and it is therefore useful to differentiate them.


They belong to Family: Sciuridae and could be either ground living or on trees or flying squirrels. Totally, there are more than 230 extant species. Squirrels can sustain in a range of habitats including highly diverse tropical rainforests as well as deserts. Squirrels are lightweight animals, weighing between four and eight ounces, e.g. African pygmy squirrel. However, some species weigh from five to eight kilograms, e.g. Alpine Marmot. Squirrels keep their tail at a unique position with an angle while they are running, which is an important feature. They frequently eat so that there will be enough food stored inside body, in the form of fats, for the food scarce winter season. However, the temperate species barely keep food underneath ground, as snow will cover the ground in the winter. The ground squirrels make nests with an entrance made up of dirt, which is characteristic for them. All the squirrels do have an excellent vision because of their large eyes. Additionally, their claws on toes are sturdy and versatile, permitting an excellent grasp to the bark of the tree. Thus, the presence of large eyes and sturdy claws are useful features for an arboreal life. The hind limbs are larger and longer than the forelimbs. In addition, they have padded paws, so that no one would notice their presence even if they were running. There are instances where squirrels eat insects as well as some small vertebrates, but the main diet is herbivorous. Their lifespan could range from 2 to 6 years depending on the environment that they live. The disturbing factors viz. predation and food scarcity would lower the lifespan.


Chipmunks have characteristic dark brown stripes running from head to tail and two white stripes on their head and beneath the eyes. They are natives of Asian and predominantly North America. There are 25 species classified in a single Genus: Tamias, but there are still arguments going on about the genus, with some genetic studies suggest two additional genera, Marmota and Spermophilus. However, chipmunks are small rodents with about 20 centimetres long and weighing almost 50 grams. They keep their tail completely directed upwards while running. Chipmunks have pouches in their cheek to store food. Because of their arboreal lifestyle, chipmunks prefer forest areas. The entrance of a chipmunks’ borrow is clean and clear without dirt, twigs, and leaves. Those borrows are useful to store food, nesting and resting. The lifespan of chipmunks is usually about two years only in the wild, whereas it could be as high as eight years n captivity.

What is the difference between Squirrel and Chipmunk?

• Chipmunks are smaller than squirrels.

• Chipmunks have dark colour strips along the body and on the face, but only some squirrels have stripes on the body, and not on the face.

• The stripes run almost up to the tip of the tail in chipmunks.

• The squirrel has a big bushy tail, but the chipmunk has small and less haired tail compared to squirrels.

• Chipmunks store food for winter in their burrows, but squirrels do it by storing inside their bodies in the form of fat.

• Squirrels’ borrows have dirt at the entrance, whereas it is very clean in chipmunks’.

• Chipmunks have mouth pockets as a temporary food store, but squirrels do not.