Depending on your viewpoint, the chipmunk is a cute animal, half the size and weight of a squirrel or a disease-bearing garden-destroying pest.
Why Get Rid of Chipmunks?
What do they eat?
Chipmunks eat seeds, fruit, small reptiles and amphibians, young birds, and eggs, and they will eat bird food, pet food, and any foodstuffs you are growing for human consumption, along with some of your more expensive ornamental bulbs and shrubs.
The primary reason for getting rid of chipmunks is to protect your garden from consumption by chipmunks. The amount of damage a chipmunk does in your garden may be intolerable or bearable, depending on what you choose to grow and nurture.
THE 5 WAYS TO GET RID OF CHIPMUNKS NATURALLY
When you decide that you don’t want chipmunks visiting your yard or garden area, there are some simple steps to remain chipmunk-free and be eco-friendly.
1. Build an L-Shaped Fence
Chipmunks dig tunnels to get around and hide from predators. Chipmunks are a food source for most larger animals, and when they come out to forage, they want to be close to an escape route.
A standard fence above ground does not stop chipmunks or other burrowing animals.
But if you extend the fence to at least eight inches below the ground and use wire mesh or another barrier to create a dig-free zone in front of your fence, pointing away from your property, you make it more challenging for the chipmunks to head into your yard.
Can chipmunks climb walls?
All small rodents can climb to some extent, and a chipmunk can climb walls in a similar way to rats. However, a chipmunk is primarily a ground-based animal that digs tunnels to travel.
2. Mark Your Territory with Predator Scents
Laying a deterrent along the edges of your property effectively puts up a chipmunk unwelcome here notice.
One of the best is pelleted predator poop – coyote is a natural predator of chipmunks, but any strongly smelling predator dung available from some zoos will do the trick.
Alternatively, you can use chemical deterrents, either DIY blends or purchased.
This method’s main disadvantage is that you need to refresh it because it washes away in the rain. Plus, chipmunks get used to the smell and ignore it.
A chemical barrier helps reinforce your other measures during the chipmunk breeding season rather than as an all-year-round solution.
3. Encourage Owls to Patrol Your Space
Owls are the top predator of chipmunks, so a healthy owl population keeps down all small rodents.
If you have large trees on your property or other suitable nesting sites, put up owl nesting boxes. You get the joy of having owls to watch, and your helpful neighborhood owl will keep your vegetable patch clear of small rodents.
While waiting for an owl to move in and take care of the chipmunks, you can deploy an owl decoy on your lawn.
To be effective, move it around your yard daily because the chipmunk will recognize it as a garden ornament if it stays in one place.
4. Enlist the Family Pets
Dogs and cats are predatory animals.
If you have a dog, then ensure it patrols the boundaries of your property. The scent of a predatory deters the cautious chipmunks.
Cats will naturally hunt chipmunks, but the unfortunate consequence is that you may have injured or dead chipmunks as cat presents.
5. Be an Unfriendly Host
Chipmunks forage within a third of a mile of their burrows. A chipmunk will take up residence in your garden if it is a good foraging site.
Sources of food in your garden include bird feeders, pet bowls, and ornamental bulbs and shrubs. Plus, chipmunks like plenty of cover when they look for food.
An open garden with few hiding places is not an ideal chipmunk habitat.
Positioning bird feeders away from the house or preventing the bird food from falling onto the ground removes this attraction.
Clearing up pet bowls overnight or after they have finished eating is common sense to avoid diseases and unwelcome visitors from neighboring animals.
Embedding wire mesh above your prize ornamental bulbs protects them from consumption. Plus, you can consider planting bulbs like daffodils and other plants that chipmunks don’t eat.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in the Attic or Ceiling?
First, chipmunks are not natural house inhabitants. Your home is not a safe haven for them, and you don’t have any food sources.
But chipmunks, like any other rodent, can get into your attic by accident, and once in, it is unlikely to find its way back out.
The most effective way of dealing with chipmunks in your attic is to prevent them from getting inside your house.
These steps help prevent chipmunks from getting into the house:
- Create an animal-free zone around your home by removing any potential bridges like shrubs or overhanging tree branches.
- Fit screens to your windows so when they are open, they don’t allow entry to unwelcome visitors.
- Keep the outside structure in good repair by inspecting for and filling any cracks or holes. A chipmunk can pass through a gap of two inches with ease.
What do you do if a chipmunk got into the attic?
If you find a chipmunk in your attic or ceiling space, then the best approach to get them out is:
Step one: Create a visible escape route to the outside.
Step two: Switch off all the lights so the natural light draws the chipmunk to the visible escape route.
Step three: If the chipmunk doesn’t move towards the escape route, then encourage it any removing all hiding places that are furthest away from the escape point and effectively herd it in that direction.
Avoid trying to chase or catch the chipmunk, it is a wild animal, and if cornered, it will bite to defend itself.
If the chipmunk does not leave voluntarily, you can either call in a professional or set a trap to catch it yourself.
Once the chipmunk is gone, locate its entry point and take steps to make sure it or any other rodent can’t get in again.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in the Yard?
Removing chipmunks from a yard means eliminating food and hiding places. A tidy yard is less encouraging for chipmunks.
Step one: Clean up your yard.
Removing all potential food sources by sweeping under birdfeeders and picking up dropped fruit and berries removes potential food sources.
Step two: Remove hiding places.
Woodpiles, large rocks, and piles of hedge clippings are all attractive hiding places for chipmunks. If you need to retain these features, then take action to make them less friendly to chipmunks.
You can add a combination of chipmunk deterrents to these areas.
Add barriers- enclose your woodpile inside a secure store, compost your wood clippings as far from the house as possible, and surround your larger rocks with a deep layer of gravel makes these potential hiding places less chipmunk-friendly.
Spray some strongly scented products around the spaces that attract the chipmunks to deter them from moving in.
Step three: Consider electronic deterrents.
You can discourage most wildlife away from your yard with a powered deterrent that emits ultrasonic sound pulses or triggers a surprise water spray.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks from Flower Beds and Vegetable Plots?
A chipmunk munching its way through your prize blooms and food crops is irritating and expensive in terms of wasted work and money when you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labors.
All the ways you can discourage chipmunks from your yard apply here along with these additional measures:
Chipmunks can forage above and below ground.
How do you stop chipmunks from digging in your garden?
Discouraging a chipmunk from burrowing into your flowerbeds and vegetable plots can include:
- Building raised beds and lining the bottoms with animal mesh. Roots still penetrate, but the chipmunks can’t burrow up and under your plants.
- Applying a layer of animal mesh an inch below the soil’s surface prevents chipmunks from burrowing down and protecting bulbs and root crops. Alternatively,
- A weed barrier cloth with a layer of gravel provides another effective deterrent to chipmunks.
- Planting all ornamental bulbs inside bulb cages for protection.
- Using fruit cages and mesh cloches securely tethered underground to protect surface crops.
How do you deter chipmunks from your garden?
Fortunately, you have various natural ways to keep chipmunks out of your garden:
- Planting garlic bulbs and chili plants among your other vegetables is a natural way to deter chipmunks from exploring your vegetable plot.
- Using daffodil bulbs mixed in with your other bulbs is also effective in convincing chipmunks that nothing is worth eating in your flower beds.
- Mulching your vegetable beds with coffee grounds or human hair can discourage the chipmunk from exploring your plot as well as adding additional nutrients to the soil.
If these methods of deterring and encouraging chipmunks to vacate the area do not work, you have the option of trapping.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in Walls?
Walls may form part of a chipmunk’s tunnel network, which is problematic for the householder.
Sadly, your solution is to trap and remove the chipmunks from inside the wall using either a professional pest controller or baiting and laying traps yourself.
You need to check your State regulations regarding trapping and potential release of chipmunks. It varies, but often you need a license to undertake this work.
How to keep chipmunks out of the walls?
When you know you have a chipmunk-free wall, seal any entry points to prevent another chipmunk from accessing your walls. Create a chipmunk-free zone around your walls by using deterrents and physical barriers like deep gravel beds or hard surfacing.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in Your Garage?
Typical garages give ready access to your garden and have plenty of hiding spaces.
Plus, a garage is a great place to build a food store for the cold season or raise a litter of young from a chipmunk’s point of view.
Step one: Find out how they are getting in.
Preventing chipmunks from getting into your garage is the easiest way of ridding your garage from chipmunks.
If there are any holes, cracks, or access points in the walls, windows, or roof – seal them with expanding foam, plaster, or wire mesh as appropriate.
The most likely entry point is under the garage door (a continuous strip of our recommended door draft stopper can help block this access) but check to see any other possible entrances.
Step two: Make your garage unpleasant for chipmunks.
Chipmunks don’t like cayenne pepper.
You can make an effective cayenne pepper spray to act as a deterrent by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground pepper with one cup of water, or you can sprinkle the powder in strategic locations.
Spray around the edges and corners of your garage.
If you can smell a spicy cayenne pepper scent, then the chipmunk’s sensitive nose will keep it out of your garage and away from that unpleasant scent.
Step three: Keep a clean and tidy garage.
Regular brushing out and storing items in vermin-proof boxes makes the garage unsafe and unattractive for chipmunks.
Chipmunks avoid human contact, and if you are regularly in and out of your garage and moving things around, it is a less attractive space for them.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in Your Basement?
The same methods of removing chipmunks from your garage work in your basement, but as the basement is part of your home, you may wish to begin trapping and removing any chipmunks in residence.
Step one: Inspect your basement for points of entry. If chipmunks can get in, so can other vermin.
Step two: Ensure all potential food sources are inaccessible in vermin-proof storage boxes.
Step three: Apply a chipmunk repellent to deter further home invasion.
How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in Your Camper?
Chipmunks are not naturally drawn to campers, cars, and RVs, but once they get inside, they are a nuisance.
If you find evidence that you may have a chipmunk living in your camper, then find out how it is getting in.
While you are moving around, looking for holes and access points, the chipmunk is most likely to exit the camper but exercise caution because a cornered chipmunk will bite.
Step one: Repair and block any possible entry points – steel wool is excellent for smaller holes.
Step two: Empty and clean your camper to satisfy yourself that you don’t have any chipmunks inside. Leave the door open, so any trapped animal can flee and avoid contact with you.
Step three: Apply a deterrent powder or spray to reinforce the message that chipmunks are not welcome in the RV.
Before setting out to trap chipmunks yourself, check your State rules. You may need a license, and there may be restrictions on killing or releasing chipmunks.
If in doubt, contact a professional who will comply with all the regulations and remove your chipmunks with minimal fuss.
Are you thinking about how do you get rid of chipmunks humanely?
A live trap may not be the answer.
Unless you intend to release the chipmunk back into your yard (from an attic, perhaps), you are merely leaving a chipmunk to die in a strange territory. Plus, your State may prohibit the release of trapped chipmunks.
In these circumstances, a trap that kills quickly may be preferable and cause less suffering to the animal.
The best baits for chipmunk traps are peanut butter and sunflower seeds. Chipmunks find both delicious.
If you intend to trap your chipmunks because you need to get them out of your attic, walls, or basement, then these are two of the best traps available:
Best Chipmunk Live Trap:
Moutrapper Humane Live Cage for Chipmunks
At under $15, this is a straightforward live trapping cage that quickly traps the animal in a secure enclosure. You can then release it in a better environment away from your home or yard.
Because this is a live trap, you don’t need to worry about harming other wildlife or your neighbor’s kitten.
What you get with this live trap:
- Ideal for small rodents up to squirrel size.
- Straightforward and easy to operate.
- Indoors or outdoors use.
- Safe for pets and kids.
- Durable and reusable.
- L12.6 x W5.0 x H4.9 inches.
Best Chipmunk Snap Trap:
Kat Sense Reusable Snap Trap
There are occasions when live capture and release are not an option for dealing with your rodent problem. The advantage of using a snap trap is targeted capture without the use of poison.
These snap traps are for fast, accurate setting and killing of trapped rodents.
The traps can go into otherwise inaccessible spaces, and you can rely on them to minimize animal suffering.
What you get with this snap trap:
- Easy to set, clean, and reuse.
- Precise trigger mechanism with no false trigger.
- Suitable for rats as well as chipmunks.
- Fast, humane kill with no blood or mess.
Difference Between a Chipmunk and a Squirrel
Squirrels and chipmunks belong to the same family of rodents, and that includes mice and rats.
The main differences between chipmunks and squirrels are:
- Squirrels are larger than chipmunks. A large chipmunk may reach a foot in length, but squirrels typically grow to two feet.
- Chipmunks are lighter than squirrels reaching a maximum weight of 6ozs, where a moderate squirrel weighs in at one pound or more.
- Squirrels live and nest in trees and come down to the ground to forage. Chipmunks dig tunnels for shelter underground and come up to the surface to forage.
- Both squirrel and chipmunks are omnivorous and eat a range of seeds, nuts, tuber, insects, and small animals and eggs.
What Attracts Chipmunks?
Chipmunks, like other small animals, come looking for shelter and food. Your outdoor space is attractive to a chipmunk if it provides plenty of protection from predators and potential food sources.
Conditions and foods that attract chipmunks include:
- Bushes and undergrowth – provide cover from the keen eyes of a hawk and other predators.
- Large rocks and woodpiles – burrows under these make it more difficult for a coyote or raccoon to dig them out of their tunnels.
- Bird feeders – food spilled on the ground and the possibility of using a bush or fence to access the feeder directly.
- Garden plants – these are a direct food source and an excellent foraging ground for insects, small lizards, and frogs.
- Fruit trees – windfalls of fruit, berries, and nuts attract chipmunks and other foraging animals.
- Almost anything edible – chipmunks are omnivores, and a free meal is too good to pass up.
Chipmunks may look cute and cuddly, but they have rats’ feeding habits and will eat garbage as readily as natural foods.
What Do Chipmunks Hate?
Chipmunks have sensitive noses, and strong smells tend to be a deterrent.
Homeowners use a wide range of products in their quest for a chipmunk-free zone, and these include:
- Cayenne pepper – as a warm-blooded mammal, chipmunks experience a burning sensation if they taste a contact concentrated chili oil. The smell of cayenne pepper or encountering dry powder is a powerful deterrent.
- Mothballs – the release of naphthalene is repulsive to chipmunks and not particularly healthy for humans. These are best used in tunnels and outdoor spaces rather than in your home.
- Coffee grounds – strong smelling coffee grounds are offensive to chipmunks, and these are excellent mulch in your vegetable garden.
- Garlic – another strong-scented plant that deters chipmunks. Planting garlic bulbs or using garlic scented sprays are relatively effective at moving chipmunks on.
- Peppermint – the essential oil makes a pleasant indoor or outdoor spray, but the plants are fast-growing and useful for your property boundaries when added to a fence.
- Human hair – chipmunks avoid human contact, and hair trimmings are surprisingly effective as well as biodegradable. You can also use dog and cat hair from your pet’s grooming brush.
- Irish spring or other highly scented soap – the scent is the deterrent, and given that most humans find it refreshing, it is another practical deterrent inside your home or around your washing machine in the garage.
- Predator poop – it makes sense for the cautious chipmunk to avoid animals that see it as a potential meal.
- Open areas – chipmunks like cover, so they don’t fall victim to a hungry predator, so having areas without cover in your garden and around your house discourages chipmunks from exploring the territory.
- Surprises – sudden noises or water jets startle chipmunks and cause them to flee for cover. Electronic deterrents use these surprises to encourage chipmunks away from your property.
Rather than relying on one deterrent exclusively, it is best to use a rotating combination of potential deterrents to prevent the chipmunk from getting used to them.
Dealing with Chipmunk Burrows
Part of making your property unattractive to chipmunks involves persuading the chipmunks to abandon their burrows and move elsewhere.
Strong scents are your best option, so pour vinegar, urine, cayenne pepper, or mothballs into any visible chipmunk burrows. Keep repeating the process until your chipmunk visitor realize they have outstayed their welcome and moves out.
What Damage Can Chipmunks Do to You and Your Property?
Is the small, cute, and charming chipmunk that much of a problem?
Should you be worried and treat getting rid of chipmunks as a priority in your life?
Disease and the Chipmunk
Pest control firms are keen to tell you that chipmunks are potential sources of harmful infection for humans, and the ones quoted are:
- Colorado tick fever.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
All these diseases sound terrifying, but are chipmunks so deadly to humans?
Colorado Tick Fever
As the name suggests, this disease passes from small rodents like chipmunks via a tick bite (the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, to be precise), and it is not exclusive to Colorado.
Most of the Western United States and parts of Canada are home to these ticks.
From 2010 to 2019, there were 59 cases of Colorado tick fever (source) – compare that to the number of chipmunks and people living in these States, and you can see that the risk of catching Colorado tick fever from a chipmunk in your yard is small.
It is not impossible, but it is unlikely.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
This tick-borne disease covers many types of illness caused by Rickettsia infection ranging from mild to potentially fatal.
2018 is the record year for reported cases of this infection with 6,248 (source). The crucial point is that it is ticks that spread the disease, not chipmunks.
As well as the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (occasionally found on chipmunks), you need to watch out for American Dog Tick and the Brown Dog Tick.
Deer coming to your yard and family pets are a more significant risk than chipmunks for this disease.
Plague is still a problem in the United States, and it is a bacterial infection you catch from an infected flea or handling an infected animal – typically rodent.
The United States averages 12 plague cases a year, and if detected early, the disease is easily treated with antibiotics (source).
Your risk of catching plague in the US is small, and so is the risk that a chipmunk running around your yard is infected and has fleas.
Although any warm-blooded animal can carry rabies, it is seldom found in chipmunks.
From 2009 to 2018, only 25 humans contracted rabies, and seven of those cases occurred overseas. 30,000 to 60,000 people receive treatment for potential rabies exposure every year.
The most likely animals implicated for rabies in the US do not include chipmunks.
The risk of chipmunks presenting a disease hazard to you and your family is slight and not a significant reason for getting rid of chipmunks.
However, health and hygiene dictate that you don’t want to eat food contaminated by animal droppings or contact. You do want to avoid contact with chipmunks and your food.
Physical Damage and the Chipmunk
What does a chipmunk burrow look like?
Chipmunks dig tunnels – two inches in diameter, two or three feet below the surface, and extend for about thirty feet.
What damage can chipmunks cause?
Theoretically, if a chipmunk digs under structures, it can undermine the foundations, but this is not a common occurrence. Most damage occurs in lawns and through eating garden plants.
Chipmunks do not eat wood and are bottom of the food chain, so they will run away from most family pets.
Except in the breeding seasons, chipmunks prefer to live alone. Your garden or yard is unlikely to become infested with chipmunks unless you provide an exceptionally rich feeding ground.
Chipmunks and Pets
Are chipmunks dangerous to cats and dogs?
The chipmunk does not pose a significant risk to cats and dogs except through passing ticks and fleas. Instead, the dog and cat are a considerable risk to the chipmunk and a deterrent to chipmunks taking up residence in your yard.
Chipmunks are unlikely to attack small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs, but they are attracted to their food, which can be a problem. Plus, baby rabbits and guinea pigs are vulnerable to predation, and chipmunks eat small animals.
What about the chickens?
Chickens are at risk from stolen food, and chipmunks will eat eggs if they get the chance. Chicken and small animal enclosures must be chipmunk-proof to protect them from competition for their food and ticks and fleas. Provided the chicken wire is less than 3/4 inch in mesh, then the chipmunk can’t squeeze through.