Do Chipmunks bite? (Are They DANGEROUS?)

As an avid squirrel enthusiast and nature lover, I’m often asked: do chipmunks bite? With their chubby cheeks and stripes, chipmunks certainly look harmless. But what’s the real truth? Do chipmunks bite humans? Keep reading as I dive into whether chipmunks bite humans, what to do if you are bitten, and tips to avoid a chipmunk attack.

In short, while chipmunks can deliver a nasty bite, attacks are rare as they prefer to run from humans. A chipmunk bite should always be cleaned though as their teeth may carry bacteria that can cause infection. You can prevent bites by not feeding wild chipmunks, securing your home, and contacting wildlife professionals for removal if needed.

Why Do Chipmunks Bite Humans?

Chipmunks have small mouths, but their incisors are constantly growing and incredibly sharp, able to chew through nuts, seeds, fruits, and even wood and wiring. Though bites are uncommon, they will use those teeth to defend themselves if threatened.

Here are the most common reasons why chipmunks may bite your hand:

1. Territorial Defense

Chipmunks are solitary and territorial animals. They each establish distinct territories around their burrows and nests that they aggressively defend. If a human hand encroaches on their space, especially during mating season, a threatened chipmunk may bite.

2. Self-Defense

Chipmunks avoid humans when possible. However, if cornered or grabbed, a frightened chipmunk will bite in an attempt to escape. Their first instinct is to flee danger, but if unable to run, they resort to biting.

3. Accidental Bites

Well-meaning people sometimes attempt to hand feed or hold wild chipmunks. Though cute, chipmunks do not enjoy human contact and bites may occur from hand-feeding or restraint against their will.

4. Disease

While rare, chipmunks can contract rabies like any mammal. An infected chipmunk may act unnaturally tame or aggressive. Any strange behavior warrants caution, as rabies impairs brain function and causes loss of fear, excess salivation, paralysis, and death.

Signs a Chipmunk May Bite

Healthy chipmunks show clear signs prior to biting so you can usually avoid an incident. Be wary if a chipmunk:

  • Approaches you rather than running away.
  • Acts aggressively when you are near its burrow.
  • Makes chattering or chucking sounds.
  • Has piloerection, causing its fur to stand on end.
  • Stands on its hind legs and arches its back.
  • Lunges or snaps its jaws at you.

If you spot any of those behaviors, be careful!

What To Do If Bitten By a Chipmunk

Though uncommon, chipmunk bites do occasionally occur. If you are bitten, take these steps to promote healing and prevent infection:

  1. Wash the wound immediately with soap and warm water.
  2. Take proactive measures against infection by utilizing antibiotic ointment.
  3. Cover with a sterile bandage.
  4. Monitor for signs of infection like redness, swelling, warmth, and pus.
  5. Consult a doctor if the wound appears infected or have other concerns.
  6. Contact animal control to test the chipmunk for rabies if possible.
  7. Complete any rabies post-exposure prophylaxis recommended by your doctor.

Diseases Carried By Chipmunks

In addition to rabies, chipmunks may potentially carry other diseases transmittable to humans either through bites, contact with waste or infected ticks. Some of those diseases, even if rare, could be very serious.

Here are some of the diseases that chipmunks may carry:

1. Tularemia

Also called rabbit fever, this bacterial disease often causes skin ulcers at the site of infection but can also infect the eyes, lungs, lymph nodes, and bloodstream. Handle dead chipmunks with gloves as the disease is fatal for them.

2. Salmonella

The bacteria Salmonella causes food poisoning and infection. Chipmunk droppings may contain it, so thoroughly wash hands after contact. Keep chipmunks away from food preparation areas.

3. Lyme Disease

Chipmunks may host the deer ticks that transmit Lyme disease bacteria through their bite. Use tick prevention and do full body checks after time outdoors when chipmunks are present.

4. Leptospirosis

Chipmunk urine may contain Leptospira bacteria that can enter the body through mucous membranes and cuts. Avoid touching your eyes or mouth after contacting contaminated soil or water.

5. Plague

Though not common, plague circulates in some western chipmunk populations. Feed and handle wild chipmunks with caution and leave dead individuals to professionals.

How To Avoid Chipmunk Bites

Use these tips to steer clear of chipmunk bites when enjoying the outdoors:

  • Observe chipmunks from a distance and avoid approaching burrows.
  • Never attempt to touch, handle, or feed wild chipmunks.
  • Seal up any potential entry points on your home’s exterior to prevent nesting.
  • Trim back bushes and overhanging branches to discourage chipmunks.
  • Clean up fallen fruits and seeds from your yard.
  • Use thick gloves and caution when moving debris they could hide beneath.
  • Contact a professional if you have an infestation needing removal.

Professional Chipmunk Control and Removal

It can be extremely difficult to permanently evict a chipmunk from your attic or deter them from your property once they move in. Contact a professional wildlife control expert for humane trapping and relocation if you need chipmunks removed from your house or yard.

A reputable wildlife professional will:

  • Identify entry points and burrows.
  • Safely and humanely trap chipmunks.
  • Relocate them away from dwellings and people.
  • Seal up holes and weak points in your home’s exterior.
  • Provide advice tailored to your property on deterring future pests.


Do chipmunks bite? Chipmunks will bite only if they feel seriously threatened or are infected with a disease like rabies. Their tiny teeth can transmit bacteria that cause infection, so proper wound care is important after a bite.

Avoid bites by keeping your distance from these cute critters and your home is free of easy access points. With some caution and maintenance, you can appreciate chipmunks from afar and prevent unwanted encounters leading to bites!

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