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Keywords:

  • chipmunks;
  • Tamias;
  • Eutamias;
  • reproduction;
  • breeding;
  • captivity;
  • caging

Abstract

Factors affecting reproduction in captive Asian chipmunks, Tamias sibiricus, were examined by means of a survey of chipmunk breeders in Great Britain. Sixteen breeders were asked about the conditions under which their chipmunks were kept and their success in breeding them. Results covered 205 female-years of pairing. Breeding was promoted by large cage size and early weaning of young, and inhibited by the presence of other rodent species nearby and by extended photoperiod. A diet of seeds and nuts, with some fresh fruits and vegetables, appeared to be adequate for breeding. Breeding occurred in 80–91& of female-years when neither extra lighting nor other rodents were present, irrespective of cage size. Weaning age affected the occurrence of second litters in a year. Second litters were born less often (0–13&) of breeding (female-years) if young of the first litter remained with the mother 8 weeks or longer. Second litters were more frequent (14–45& of breeding female-years) if first litters were removed by 6.5 weeks of age, and this frequency increased with cage size. Litter size also increased with cage size (means ranged from 3 to 7). Overall breeding success increased with cage size and decreased with the presence of other rodents. In most colonies without other rodents near, mean success rate ranged from 3.1 to 8.5 young/female-year. In colonies with other rodents present mean success rate varied from 0 to 3.3 young/female-year. It is suggested that the mechanisms that control population size in the wild also act to inhibit or promote breeding in captivity.