Chipmunks are small rodents that have long been an iconic part of the North American landscape, often appearing in animated films and television shows. They belong to a group of mammals known as Sciuridae, which also includes squirrels and prairie dogs. Most chipmunks measure between 3-5 inches in length, with their tails adding another 2-3 inches.
Their fur is usually brown or grayish-brown on top while they may be reddish orange underneath. Chipmunks typically weigh no more than 4 ounces, making them one of the smallest members of the rodent family. In terms of diet, chipmunks eat seeds, nuts, fruit, insects and even bird eggs when available.
A key feature of the chipmunk’s anatomy is its cheek pouches – two expandable pockets located near each side of its mouth used for storing food items before burying it later at a safe location. With this trait alone, chipmunks can help spread plants by carrying seeds from one area to another through their travels.
As such, these furry creatures play a significant role in maintaining biodiversity across various ecosystems throughout North America. Transitioning into the next section about types of chipmunks offers further insight into how these diverse animals maintain balance within our environment.
Table of Contents
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
Signs Of Chipmunk Infestation
Chipmunks are notorious for their ability to cause significant damage in a short amount of time. In fact, according to the University of Michigan Extension Service, chipmunks can destroy yards and gardens within a few weeks by burrowing under shrubs, eating garden vegetables, and destroying flower beds. Knowing the signs of an infestation is important in order to take preventive measures before extensive damage occurs.
The first sign that you may have an infestation is hearing chirping noises coming from beneath decks or around foundations. This noise indicates that there are young chipmunks present on your property. Additionally, holes in the ground near wood piles indicate that adult chipmunks are living nearby and searching for food sources such as birdseed or pet food left outdoors. If these holes are found with nuts and seeds inside them, then it is certain that chipmunks are nearby and looking for easy access to houses or garages.
If vegetation appears damaged or gone entirely after being freshly planted, then this could be a sign of a hungry chipmunk who has been feasting on your plants. All of these signs should alert homeowners to the presence of chipmunks so they can start taking action against the problem quickly.
Ways of Getting Rid of Chipmunks
Keeping a neat yard can make your property less appealing to chipmunks looking for a new home, which is something to consider before we get into other methods of chipmunk control. You can greatly reduce the likelihood of a chipmunk infestation by keeping your garden clean and removing potential food sources (such as nuts, berries, fruit, bulbs, etc.).
The techniques for getting rid of chipmunks fall into two groups, which I’ve labeled as follows:
- Methods of Humanely Eliminating Chipmunks.
- Killer Chipmunk Extermination Methods.
Your values, the amount of time you have, and your budget will all play a role in determining the approach you take. The effectiveness and drawbacks of each approach are listed in a table at the end of this piece.
Humane Chipmunk Removal Techniques
Ultrasonic devices are a popular means of deterring chipmunks from entering yards, gardens, and other outdoor spaces. These devices emit sound waves that are above the range of human hearing but cause discomfort to animals like chipmunks due to their sensitivity to high-frequency sounds.
Although these ultrasonic devices can be effective in some cases, they may not work for all species or individuals because animals have different levels of sensitivity to noise. Additionally, these devices need to be placed correctly near areas where chipmunks enter in order for them to be effective.
Furthermore, over time these devices’ effectiveness decreases as chipmunks become accustomed to the noise. Therefore, it is important to know its limitations when considering using an ultrasonic device as part of your prevention strategy against chipmunk infestations.
Traps and Baits 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)。
It is often thought that trapping and baiting chipmunks can be an effective way to get rid of them. However, there are some drawbacks to consider when using these methods:
- Traps may not work as the chipmunk may learn quickly how to avoid them.
- Baits may attract other unwanted pests instead of just chipmunks.
- Trapped or poisoned chipmunks may also cause damage in trying to escape from the trap.
For these reasons, traps and bait should only be used if all other options have been exhausted. In order for trapping or baiting to be successful, it must be done regularly over a period of time – otherwise, the chipmunk will return once more. It is important to use humane, live-catch traps rather than lethal ones so that the animal can be released elsewhere away from your home.
Additionally, lures such as peanut butter or birdseed should always be placed inside a cage trap; do not place them on open ground where pets or children could access them. Finally, never handle a trapped chipmunk with bare hands; gloves should always be worn for safety purposes.
Pepper Your Plants
The pungent aroma of pepper plants can create an invisible barrier around your property, keeping chipmunks away. Planting this fragrant herb in strategic locations near the points of entry for these pests is a great way to deter them from coming onto your land.
To maximize effectiveness, grind up dried peppers and sprinkle them over soil or mulch near the entranceways. You may also choose to mix it with water and spray it on leaves and grass around the perimeter of your garden. This will give you an extra layer of protection against those pesky critters.
With its bold color and zesty smell, planting pepper throughout your yard is not only aesthetically pleasing but also serves as an effective repellent for small animals such as chipmunks.
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.
Basically, it’s just a decorative item designed to look like a large bird of prey. The chipmunk will be terrified when it sees this device sitting in your yard (ideally near its burrow).
Hopefully, Mr. Chipmunk will realize he made a huge mistake by settling in your yard once his natural predator makes an appearance or two.
There is a wide selection of bird of prey decoys on the market, but if you’re looking to scare away chipmunks, I recommend sticking with an owl or hawk.
I also think it’s best to choose the decoy that most closely matches the real thing in terms of size and shape. Color and detail are less crucial from a practical standpoint, but if you plan on leaving it in your garden, you might as well get the coolest-looking ornament possible.
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 scaremongering. 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 catch 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 into 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.
Other common chipmunk predators include hawks, snakes, foxes, and coyotes. Hawks hunt ground-dwelling creatures from above while snakes attack them from below. Foxes and coyotes often hunt in packs and can take down larger animals like deer; however, they will also target small mammals like chipmunks if given the opportunity. Predators may help to keep chipmunk populations under control in a specific area but they do not guarantee the complete removal of all chipmunks.
In addition to these large predators, some smaller ones can be seen preying on chipmunks as well. These smaller hunters include cats, skunks, raccoons, and weasels. All of these animals have sharp teeth perfect for catching furry rodents such as chipmunks. Even birds of prey may swoop down occasionally and snatch up an unsuspecting critter or two.
In most cases though, it is difficult for any predator to reduce the population of a species significantly because there are usually more than enough food sources available for them to survive without being hunted extensively by other creatures.
The presence of natural predators alone cannot guarantee that you’ll never see another chipmunk again — other measures must be taken as well.
Professional Extermination Services
Professional extermination services can be a valuable option when it comes to getting rid of chipmunks. Professional exterminators are knowledgeable in the field and have access to specialized tools and techniques that may not otherwise be available.
Exterminators typically use baits, traps, or poisons to remove any existing colonies of chipmunks from an area. They also work to prevent future infestations by sealing off entryways into buildings and other areas where chipmunks may try to enter. In addition, professional exterminators will often provide advice on how to keep chipmunks away from your property in the future.
In many cases, these services come at an additional cost but can prove invaluable if they successfully eliminate all current infestations while preventing new ones from occurring. The effectiveness of such methods will depend on factors like the size of the affected area as well as its location and climate conditions.
How Much Does It Cost To Remove Chipmunks?
The cost of removing chipmunks from your property can vary depending on the severity of the infestation and how much work will be needed. It may include trapping, exclusion, or habitat modification. Trapping is a common technique for getting rid of chipmunks but it does require some expertise in order to ensure that all animals are trapped humanely and safely.
Exclusion involves sealing up any potential entry points where chipmunks could enter the home or building such as cracks around windows and doors. Finally, habitat modifications can involve altering landscaping areas to make them less attractive to chipmunks.
On average, removal services typically range between $100-$300; however, this cost can increase with more intense infestations or if additional labor is required. In addition to fees associated with hiring professionals, there may also need to be materials purchased such as traps or sealants which would come at an extra charge.
It’s important to note that even after you have paid for professional help, you may still need to take measures yourself to prevent future infestations such as keeping food sources away from exterior walls, filling in burrows, disposing of debris piles and other potential nesting spots near your house or business premises.
By taking these steps you can reduce the likelihood of further problems occurring in the future. With proper pest management techniques in place, you should be able to keep your property free from pesky chipmunks.
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
Disinfecting Areas After Chipmunk Removal
Now that the chipmunks have been removed, it is important to disinfect the area where they were living. Disinfecting the area will help protect people from any potential illnesses or parasites that may have been left behind. This process should be done carefully and thoroughly in order to ensure all areas are properly cleaned and rid of any remaining bacteria or germs.
When disinfecting an area after a chipmunk removal, here are a few tips:
- Wear protective clothing such as gloves, face masks, and goggles while cleaning.
- Use chemical cleaners specifically designed for killing viruses and bacteria.
- Clean hard surfaces with hot water and soap before applying the chemicals.
- Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture to remove any debris left behind by the chipmunks.
These steps can help reduce the risk of contamination caused by these pests, which can lead to health issues down the road if not taken care of properly. It is also important to take precautionary measures when handling animal droppings or urine, as these could contain harmful pathogens as well.
Additionally, it is recommended that all food items stored near or around where the chipmunks have populated be thrown away immediately after their removal due to possible contamination risks. By taking these additional steps, homeowners can make sure their homes remain safe from future pest infestations.
To further prevent future infestations of chipmunks, homeowners should block off entry points into their homes with wire mesh screens or caulk cracks in foundation walls and other openings larger than 1/4 inch wide since this is how small animals like chipmunks often find access indoors.
Homeowners should also keep yards clean and free of debris piles which provide hiding places for rodents searching for shelter. Finally, reducing sources of food attracts like bird feeders or open trash cans can help minimize contact between humans and wildlife on one’s property – helping keep everyone safe.
How To Keep Chipmunks Away In The Future
The next step to a chipmunk-free home is prevention. It may seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies and techniques, one can effectively deter these critters from entering and staying on their property.
One of the most effective ways to keep chipmunks away is by making sure that food sources are not accessible. This includes sealing garbage containers tightly and keeping pet food indoors. Additionally, any potential nesting sites should be eliminated such as piles of leaves or wood debris; this will make it hard for them to find shelter near your home.
Finally, certain smells have been proven to act as natural repellents against chipmunks which can be utilized in gardens or yards. Some popular scents include peppermint oil, vinegar, cayenne powder, garlic cloves, and ammonia; just sprinkle some of these around areas where you think they might visit and they’ll likely stay away. With all of these tips combined, one can easily maintain an environment free of pesky chipmunks.