Why do chipmunks sometimes chirp loudly and continuously for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time?

As you suspect, the noise probably has less to do with foraging, as the familiar fat-cheeked eastern chipmunk (Tamias stratus) can easily collect and store a life-time supply of food in a single season, than with protecting territory and warning off interlopers.

chipmunk chirping

Chipmunks have a variety of vocal sounds, not all of them translated by scientists, but the one you describe, which has also been rendered “chip-chip-chip” or “chuck-chuck-chuck” or “chipp-R-R-R,” is often associated with driving away an intruder perceived as threatening the burrow.

The high-pitched sound is repeated every few seconds and may be echoed by a chorus of concerned neighbors.

The scolding is probably being delivered by females, as they are apparently even more territorial than the males.

But neither sex is particularly gregarious, except for the period around mating, when the couple may play and vocalize together for some time. Shortly afterward, the male is vociferously driven off.

The female can have two litters a year, and the young are, in turn, loudly urged to leave home in six to eight weeks.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

2 thoughts on “Why do chipmunks sometimes chirp loudly and continuously for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time?”

  1. There is a chipmunk that has been perching on top of my fence alongside a driveway that chirps for long periods of time and has been doing this for many weeks (maybe months). I have theorized that the cat next door may have gotten a mate and this one is calling for it. Any possibility that this is true?

  2. I have a little chipmunk in my backyard who sits on the fence or the rocks in my yard and chirps constantly several times a day and sometimes in the night. I got so annoyed. I thought it was a bird. After a visual search of the yard, there was this tiny little chipmunk. I wanted to know why and my search led me to this site. I believe it is territory. Now thank goodness, she has moved down a couple yards. I love backyard animals, but this chirping is a first for me. I learn something new each day. Thank you!

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