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Squirrel vs. Chipmunk: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 17, 2023
Squirrels are larger, with bushy tails; chipmunks are smaller, with striped markings.

Key Differences

Squirrels are a family of rodents known for their large bushy tails and propensity for climbing trees. Chipmunks, on the other hand, are small, striped rodents of the family Sciuridae, primarily ground-dwelling and known for their burrowing habits.
Squirrels have a diverse habitat range, found in many forests, parks, and urban areas around the world. Whereas chipmunks are commonly found in wooded areas, brush, and rocky locations, creating burrows for shelter and food storage.
Squirrels typically have a diet that includes nuts, fruits, and seeds, often storing their food for winter. Chipmunks also hoard food supplies, but their diet can additionally include insects, small frogs, worms, and bird eggs.
The physical appearance of squirrels varies significantly among species, but they generally have slender bodies with bushy tails and large eyes. Chipmunks are easily distinguishable by their ruddy fur and distinctive black and white stripes on their backs and cheeks.
Both squirrels and chipmunks are known for their quick, agile movements. Squirrels primarily move by jumping from branch to branch, while chipmunks have a scampering motion on the ground, though they can climb trees if needed.

Comparison Chart




Generally larger


Bushy tail, less distinct coloring
Striped, distinctive markings


Trees, various environments
Ground, burrows in wooded areas


Nuts, fruits, seeds
Seeds, nuts, fruits, small animals, insects

Squirrel and Chipmunk Definitions


Squirrel is an animal known for hoarding food.
She watched the squirrel bury an acorn.


Chipmunk is a small, striped rodent of the Sciuridae family.
The chipmunk filled its cheeks with nuts.


Squirrel refers to a member of the Sciuridae family.
Squirrels are one of the most common sights in urban parks.


Chipmunk refers to a ground-dwelling animal known for burrowing.
Chipmunks create extensive networks of burrows.


Squirrel can also describe someone who's hoarding items.
He's a squirrel with his money, saving every penny.


Chipmunk is known for its distinctive stripes.
A chipmunk's stripes help it blend with its woodland surroundings.


Squirrel is a tree-climbing rodent, known for its bushy tail.
The squirrel quickly ascended the tall oak.


Chipmunk also represents a character in popular culture.
The cartoon featured a mischievous chipmunk.


Squirrel can mean to hide away something in a safe place.
I squirrel away some funds for emergencies.


Chipmunk can refer to someone small and quick.
Her little brother is a real chipmunk, always darting around.


Any of various arboreal rodents of the tribe Sciurini and especially of the genus Sciurus, characteristically having a long flexible bushy tail. Also called tree squirrel.


Any of several small striped rodents of the genus Tamias, chiefly of North America.


Any of various other rodents of the family Sciuridae, such as the ground squirrels and the flying squirrels.


A squirrel-like rodent of the genus Tamias, native mainly to North America.


What do squirrels eat?

Nuts, fruits, and seeds.

What is a squirrel?

A rodent known for bushy tails and climbing trees.

Do squirrels hibernate?

Some do, many remain active in winter.

What is a chipmunk?

A small, striped rodent.

How do chipmunks affect the environment?

They aerate soil, disperse seeds, and provide prey for predators.

What's the lifespan of a chipmunk?

About 2-5 years in the wild.

Are chipmunks and squirrels related?

Yes, both are part of the Sciuridae family.

Do chipmunks hibernate?

They enter a state of torpor but may wake occasionally.

Where do squirrels live?

Various habitats, including urban areas and forests.

Where do chipmunks live?

In burrows, primarily in wooded areas.

Are squirrels aggressive?

Rarely toward humans unless threatened or sick.

How many types of squirrels are there?

Over 200 species.

What do chipmunks eat?

Seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, small animals.

How do squirrels affect the environment?

They aid in seed dispersion and provide food for predators.

Can squirrels be pets?

Not recommended; they're wild animals.

Do squirrels carry diseases?

Rarely, but they can carry some diseases.

Are chipmunks dangerous to humans?

No, but they can damage property through burrowing.

Can chipmunks be pets?

Not typically, they're best suited to the wild.

How can I differentiate a chipmunk from a squirrel?

Chipmunks are smaller with distinctive stripes, squirrels are larger with bushier tails.

What's the lifespan of a squirrel?

Typically 5-10 years in the wild.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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