Do Chipmunks Eat Acorns? Diet and Food Storage

Are you wondering: “Do chipmunks eat acorns?”. Chipmunks absolutely love acorns! In fact, acorns make up a huge part of their diet, especially in the fall and winter.

Chipmunks spend the autumn months gathering and storing acorns to eat during the cold winter when other food sources are scarce. A single chipmunk can collect a staggering 165 acorns per day! They cache acorns and other foods like seeds, nuts, and fungi in underground chambers for leaner times.

Chipmunks are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. While acorns are a chipmunk’s primary food, they also enjoy fruits like strawberries, seeds, nuts, vegetables, tomatoes, fungi, insects, worms, eggs, and even small frogs and snakes. Their diets vary slightly based on habitat and species.

What Do Chipmunks Eat?

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the dietary habits and behaviors of these adorable little critters.


Acorns are absolutely essential to a chipmunk‘s survival, especially in winter. They spend hours collecting fallen acorns in autumn to store for the cold months ahead. Acorns provide chipmunks with a good source of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to get them through hibernation periods.

Chipmunks prefer acorns from these common oak tree varieties:

  • Emory oak
  • Coast live oak
  • Black oak
  • Bur oak
  • White oak

They can eat other types of acorns as well. Chipmunks have evolved specialized teeth and jaws perfect for cracking open acorn shells to access the nutritious meat inside.


Aside from acorns, chipmunks enjoy eating all types of nuts including:

  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hickory nuts

They sometimes store nuts as part of their winter food cache. Nuts provide an excellent source of proteins and healthy fats to sustain chipmunks when other foods are scarce.


Chipmunks are big fans of seeds! Some of their favorite seeds include:

  • Sunflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Chia
  • Hemp

In autumn, chipmunks gather seeds from plants, bushes, and trees to add to their stockpiles. Seeds offer nutrients like vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.


Chipmunks enjoy chomping on all kinds of fruits including:

  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Apples
  • Plums
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Peaches
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries

Fruits provide natural sugars and essential vitamins and minerals. However, chipmunks tend not to store fruits for winter since they spoil quickly.


Mushrooms and truffles are a tasty treat for foraging chipmunks. Fungi offer B vitamins, potassium, and trace minerals. As forest dwellers, chipmunks eat the fungi they come across while searching for seeds and nuts.


Chipmunks supplement their herbivorous diets with protein-rich insects like:

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Caterpillars
  • Beetles
  • Ants
  • Spiders
  • Centipedes
  • Earthworms

Insects provide essential amino acids to support chipmunk growth and health.


Given the chance, chipmunks will raid bird nests for eggs. The eggs offer protein, healthy fats, and biotin. However, eggs are more of an opportunistic snack rather than a dietary staple.

Small Vertebrates

Chipmunks are omnivores, so they occasionally eat small vertebrates like:

  • Frogs
  • Toads
  • Lizards
  • Snakes
  • Baby birds
  • Nestling mice

Meat provides essential amino acids for growth and gives chipmunks an energy boost. Still, they eat other animals infrequently compared to nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi.

How Do Chipmunks Eat and Store Food?

Chipmunks have some fascinating adaptations when it comes to eating and storing food:

Cheek Pouches

Chipmunks have sizable pouches inside their mouth that allow them to transport food. They stuff their pouches full of seeds, nuts, and acorns then carry them to their underground burrows for storage.

Their cheek pouches can expand to be three times bigger than their head! This allows a chipmunk to gather a surprising amount of food in one trip.

Burrows and Tunnels

Chipmunk burrows are like underground food pantries! Their burrows contain different chambers to live, sleep, and store food.

Burrows are complex systems of tunnels measuring up to 30 feet long. Food storage chambers can be filled with hundreds of nuts and seeds to sustain chipmunks through winter.

Caching Food

Chipmunks spend autumn gathering and caching food. Caching refers to hiding or burying food stocks. A chipmunk may bury nuts and seeds under leaves, soil, or rocks.

They cache foods like acorns, nuts, and seeds that last a long time without spoiling underground. Then chipmunks rely on memory and scent to uncover their buried treasures later on.

Fussy Eating

Chipmunks are picky eaters. They will reject nuts or acorns with holes, cracks, or other defects. Why? Because chipmunks want to cache and eat only the best quality foods.

Chipmunks even selectively propagate their favorite foods like oak trees by planting acorns. They carry acorns away from parent trees and bury them in new locations.

When Do Chipmunks Eat the Most?

Chipmunks eat more at certain times of year when food is plentiful:


In spring, chipmunks stuff themselves with newly emerging greens, fruits, seeds, and nuts. This helps regain weight after winter when food was scarce.


Summer brings berries and fruits that chipmunks thrive on. Nursing female chipmunks need extra calories from foods like blackberries, raspberries, and apples.


Autumn is when chipmunks shift into food storage overdrive. They spend November digging burrows and gathering nuts, acorns, seeds, mushrooms, and grains to cache for winter.


In winter, chipmunks rely on their food stores to survive. They conserve energy by remaining in torpor while periodically emerging to eat their cached foods.

Fun Facts About Chipmunks and Acorns

Here are some fascinating tidbits about chipmunks and their love of acorns:

  • Chipmunks prefer white oak acorns over red oak acorns because they sprout more quickly.
  • They inspect each acorn and reject any with holes, cracks, or sprouts.
  • To preserve white oak acorns over winter, chipmunks bite off their sprouts.
  • Chipmunks sniff out their buried food caches using their keen sense of smell.
  • The Eastern chipmunk can store up to 8 lbs of seeds and nuts in a burrow.
  • Chipmunks accidentally plant oak trees by failing to retrieve all their buried acorns.
  • Higher winter survival rates are linked to abundant autumn acorn crops.


Do chipmunks eat acorns? Acorns form a vital part of the chipmunk diet, especially in winter. Their cheek pouches, underground burrows, and caching behaviors all help them gather and store large quantities of acorns.

While acorns are a preferred food, chipmunks will supplement them with nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, fungi, and the occasional insect or egg when available. Their diets shift somewhat depending on the season and habitat.

Ultimately, the industrious ways chipmunks collect and cache acorns aid their survival. These habits also benefit oak forests by dispersing acorns far and wide.

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