Difference Between Chipmunks and Squirrels
By Rebecca Rodriguez - July 30, 2022

Squirrel is a name used to classify not just one but a broad group of ground and tree-dwelling rodents of the family Sciuridae. Squirrels and Chipmunks are a common class of these rodents, especially in the North American continent.

Table Summary

It can be up to 20 inches in lengthUsually less than 10 inches
Native to over four continents, including Africa, South and North America.Only native to North America
Tree squirrels don’t have stripes. Ground squirrel stripes don’t reach the head.All chipmunks are striped
Make squeaky and clicky noisesChipmunk sounds are shrill and whistly.


Squirrels are a rodent part of the family Sciuridae with plain dull-colored coats and bushy tails. Although the term is used to classify many animals, it specifically refers to the tree-dwelling genre of Sciuridae rodents.

Chipmunks are small striped rodents that are also a part of the Sciuridae family and are categorized as kind of ground-dwelling squirrels. Squirrels also have cheek pouches which they use to store large amounts of food they cannot carry while foraging.

Squirrels VS Chipmunks

Squirrels are much bigger than Chipmunks: ground and tree squirrels range from about 6 to 12 and 12 to 20 inches, respectively. Most chipmunks are only about 4-6 inches in length. Another distinct feature of the Chipmunk is the black and sometimes white striped brown fur. While the ground squirrel’s fur stripes do not cover its head, the tree squirrel does not have any stripes. The two rodents also behave differently in winter; while ground squirrels tend to hibernate in the cold months, chipmunks only take longer, up to a few days. Tree squirrels are less active and do not hibernate or rest in winter. The chipmunk species –native to North America, are also not as widely distributed as Squirrels which exist across multiple continents.