I’m going to pull out all the stops with this post and share with you just about everything I know about getting rid of chipmunks. I’ve dubbed this post My Ultimate Guide because it contains just about every technique available (both humane and lethal) for removing the little pests from your yard and property.
- 1 Why Chipmunks Are Pests
- 2 Ways of Getting Rid of Chipmunks
- 3 Humane Chipmunk Removal Techniques
- 4 Lethal Chipmunk Removal Techniques
- 5 What are the Pros & Cons of Each Method?
- 6 Summary
Why Chipmunks Are Pests
Chipmunks may look cute, but they’re a long way from their fictional representation in kid’s TV shows such as Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers and Alvin and the Chipmunks. If you have a family of chipmunks living close to your home, you’ll already be aware of the problems they cause, but for those that haven’t experienced the issues of humans and chipmunks living nearby, here’s the lowdown on the trouble they cause:
- They destroy your plants and crops.
- They also eat other animal’s food (dog food, cat food, birdseed)
- They create vast burrows under the foundations of your home and other structures
- They scare desirable creatures such as small birds away from your yard
- They make an annoying chirping sound
Ways of Getting Rid of Chipmunks
Before discussing how to get rid of chipmunks, I should mention that keeping a tidy yard can reduce the desirability of your property for chipmunks looking for a home. By making sure your yard is well swept, and there is little food for the chipmunk (nuts, berries, fruit, bulbs, etc.), you can drastically reduce the risk of infestation.
I’ve split the chipmunk removal methods into two categories:
- Humane Chipmunk Removal Techniques
- Lethal Chipmunk Removal Techniques
The type of method you choose will depend on your personal views and beliefs, the time you have available, and the money you have at your disposal. The table at the foot of this article shows the advantages and disadvantages of each method and how effective it is.
Humane Chipmunk Removal Techniques
Trapping the chipmunks
You can trap chipmunks by manually catching the little critters yourself or purchasing a dedicated chipmunk trap that will do the job for you.
Dedicated chipmunk traps come in several different varieties, although many of them look very similar. The one I have found to be most effective is the Havahart 1083 single-door cage trap (pictured below):
Also available is a two-door version, which gives the chipmunk two entry methods (however, it does not give you the ability to catch 2 chipmunks at once).
In my opinion, the Havahart one-door cage trap is the best-dedicated chipmunk trap available on the consumer market.
The Havahart 1025 2-door chipmunk trap is very similar. However, the double doors (one at either side of the trap) give the chipmunks two ways to get to the bait – unfortunately, it does not mean that you can catch two chipmunks simultaneously, as when the trap is triggered, both doors close.
You should set the traps close to where you believe your chipmunk’s tunnels are. Although they can be difficult to find, it is safe to assume the chipmunks’ home is fairly close to the areas where they are most active.
Bait the traps with foods that are enticing to chipmunks. In my experience, seeds, sliced fruit (such as apples or strawberries), and cheese are good for chipmunks. You should lay out the trap at dusk.
It is a good idea to leave the bait in the trap without setting it for a few days as this gives the chipmunks a false sense of security, and they will associate the trap with food. After the second or third day, set the trap in the evening, and by morning you’ll have your first catch. Repeat over the following days until wild chipmunk activity on your property ceases.
The only thing left to do then removes the chipmunks from your yard – ideally as far away as possible, but anything over 2.5 miles will prevent the chipmunks from finding their way back.
Bait the trap, leave overnight close to where you think the chipmunk’s home is and check it in the morning. Chances are one of the little rascals will be caught.
I can say that the Havahart chipmunk trap is the most effective “humane” method of getting rid of chipmunks!
Catching a chipmunk yourself is very time-intensive, so it should only be attempted if the chipmunk infestation is small. There is also a risk that the chipmunk could bite you – although chipmunks aren’t known to carry any infectious diseases, there is still an element of risk.
This method is probably best used to get rid of a single chipmunk that accidentally got into your home. This is one of the least effective methods of getting rid of chipmunks and has only been included to make the article fully comprehensive.
To catch a chipmunk, you first need to see it. Having observed it, approach it slowly with a large, heavy towel held out in front of you, covering your body. This will hide the shape of your body from the chipmunk so that it doesn’t run away.
When you are close enough, throw the towel over the chipmunk and hold it down at the sides, then wrap the chipmunk in the towel and transfer it to a box or sack ready for disposal.
After trapping a chipmunk using one of the two methods above, it is time to remove it from your property. Chipmunk removal involves taking it at least 2 miles away (so it can’t find its way home) and releasing it into the wild.
Scaring the chipmunks away
There are several ways you can scare chipmunks out of your yard.
The first involves using a decoy. These are models of large birds of prey such as owls or hawks that are natural predators of the chipmunk. You can see an example of a simple owl decoy here. More elaborate varieties of decoys are available, such as flapping their wings, making a noise, or their eyes light up. However, I haven’t had much luck with this method.
This is basically an ornament that resembles a large bird of prey. It sits in your yard (ideally placed near to the chipmunk’s burrow), and when the little chipmunk sees it, they’ll be scared witless 🙂
After seeing their natural predator hanging around a few times, Mr. Chipmunk will hopefully decide he made a terrible mistake by setting up a home in your yard and move on to new pastures.
The range of birds-of-prey decoys available on the market is vast, but I’d suggest sticking with either an owl or hawk as chipmunks seem to be naturally terrified of these animals.
I’d also recommend going for the decoy that looks most realistic in terms of both shape and size. Practically, color and detail are less important, but if you’re going to have it sitting in your yard, you want the coolest-looking ornament you can get, right?
Also available are decoys with robotics inside them that make the eyes glow and reproduce realistic wing action. Still, I don’t recommend using these as I know from experience that they don’t work as well – and they’re more expensive.
Next, we have fox urine pellets. This is another method that I’ve found that will help get rid of the chipmunk. Foxes are natural predators of the chipmunk, and they will associate the smell of fox urine with danger and be scared into leaving your property. Although there have been some reported successes using this method, many more reports have been unsuccessful.
You can sprinkle some fox urine granules at the base of the decoy to add an extra layer of scare-mongering. The chipmunk’s senses will quickly pick up the scent and will be doubly frightened – the little critter will think he’s built his home in predator-Ville!
Finally, we have mothballs. Wrap mothballs in old socks and places them strategically throughout your yard. This is a natural repellent for chipmunks as well as a host of other rodents and may lead to them moving out of your yard. Out of all the methods for scaring chipmunks away, this (in my opinion) is the most effective.
Lethal Chipmunk Removal Techniques
Trapping dan zapping the chipmunks
Again, chipmunk trapping is an effective way of getting rid of chipmunks. However, the traps below will kill the chipmunks rather than catching them alive.
One of the best lethal chipmunk traps on the market is the Victor Rat Zapper Ultra.
Bait the trap and leave overnight. When the chipmunk enters, it gets a jolt of electricity through its body that kills it instantly. It is ‘cleaner’ than traditional spring-loaded methods as there is no blood and gore to contend with.
Although it’s called a rat-zapper, this tool works for all manner of rodents, especially chipmunks, and is a major part of the arsenal used by professional exterminators.
You bait the Rat-Zapper with fruit or nuts (birdseed works pretty well, too) and leave the device near to where you have seen chipmunk activity. When the chipmunk enters, the rat-zapper will fire a jolt of electricity through the chipmunk’s body, killing it instantly.
It has many benefits over other lethal methods for getting rid of chipmunks, the main one being that there is none of the blood and gore you can experience when using traditional spring-loaded traps.
Getting rid of the chipmunk’s corpse afterward is a snip – lift the rat zapper by its insulated handle, carry it to the garbage can and let it slide out.
- No blood or gore
- Kills chipmunk instantly
- Easy to dispose of dead chipmunk
- Potentially expensive for larger infestations as it requires 4 D alkaline batteries for around 20-30 kills.
Using Snap Rat Trap
A cheaper (but bloodier) chipmunk trap is the Big Snap-E Rat Trap. It works by snapping the neck/spinal cord and crushing the head of any chipmunk that tries to take the bait.
Using The Bucket of Water Trap
An inexpensive chipmunk trap that you can build yourself involves filling a gallon bucket of water and leaning a wooden plank against it to allow the chipmunk to walk up to the bucket’s rim.
The bucket-o-water chipmunk trap is one of the oldest and most effective ways to get rid of chipmunks. In the following video, Jim Harman from California Pest Management explains how to set it up. This is not a humane trap because it kills the chipmunks, but it does work.
Bait the plank and water with seeds (pumpkin seeds are ideal as they will float on the water’s surface) and leave them near the chipmunk’s home. The chipmunk will be attracted by the seeds and fall in the water whilst trying to grab them from the top of the water, subsequently drowning.
The final technique is to get a cat or two as a family pet. Cats enjoy stalking, chasing, and killing all manner of rodents, including chipmunks. Owning a cat will not only reduce the chipmunk population but also put the fear of god into any that are left, scaring them away from your yard forever.
What are the Pros & Cons of Each Method?
The table below shows how effective each of the techniques for getting rid of chipmunks is and the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
I have listed them in order of effectiveness, with the most effective (and recommended) technique at the top and the least effective at the bottom.
Havahart Chipmunk Trap
Effective, no mess, easy
Water Bucket Chipmunk Trap
Get a Cat
Big Snap-E Rat Trap
Not very effective, cost
Not very effective
Catch Them Manually
Difficult, not very effective
As you can see by the table, my recommended methods of chipmunk removal are either the Havahart Trap (humane solution) or the Rat Zapper trap (lethal solution). Although they are the most effective, they are also the most expensive, but solutions are available for any budget.