Getting Rid of Chipmunks: A Step-by-Step Guide
Everybody loves a cute chipmunk. Everyone enjoys watching these furry little critters run around, chirp, and preen thanks to their endearing characteristics.
Chipmunks don't typically cause a lot of damage to buildings, but they can be a nuisance when they dig up gardens to get at the fruits and nuts they're after. They can cause extensive damage to patios, retaining walls, stairs, and foundations due to their tunneling.
What exactly are chipmunks, what do they eat, are they dangerous, and why would you want to get rid of them?
Definition of a Chipmunk
Chipmunks are small, ground-dwelling rodents that are frequently mistaken for tree squirrels. Squirrels and chipmunks may look alike to the untrained eye, but they are actually quite different.
In contrast to the dark brown or black coats of squirrels, chipmunks have five light stripes that run along their backs and across their heads. Not only are they considerably smaller, but they also hold their bushy tails in an erect position. Chipmunks are typically between five and six inches in length, while squirrels can reach lengths of eleven to thirteen inches.
Food for Chipmunks:
Since they are omnivores, chipmunks will eat just about anything, including fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, insects, slugs, bird eggs, and even snakes. They stuff their faces with food, then take it back to their burrows to store for the cold months ahead.
The Problem with Chipmunks and Why They Exist
More of an annoyance than a serious threat. The tunnels that North American chipmunks are prone to dig under people's walkways, stairs, patios, and foundations are the most common complaint from homeowners.
Chipmunks, in their search for food, are also frequently blamed for damaging gardens by tearing up flowerbeds and vegetable patches. And just like squirrels, they can get into bird feeders and steal the food.
Can Chipmunks Really Be Harmful?
Unlike squirrels, chipmunks aren't known for their hostility. With lightning reflexes and quick movements, they are able to avoid being caught by predators and safely hide underground or high in a tree.
A chipmunk will scratch or bite its way out of a tight spot. If a chipmunk does bite you, you should treat the wound quickly with antibiotic cream and a bandage. Seek immediate medical attention if the affected area exhibits any signs of infection.
The risk of disease transmission from chipmunks is low. The CDC has documented several pathogens—including Colorado Tick Fever and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever—that are transmitted by chipmunks. Thankfully, there have been no cases of rabies in humans caused by chipmunks.
Do not try to feed a chipmunk out of your hand. You're asking for trouble if you do that.
Methods for Eliminating Chipmunks in Outdoor Settings
There are a variety of humane approaches to chipmunk control. Here are some effective methods for avoiding or eliminating chipmunks.
- Combine some cayenne pepper with water and use it as a spray.
- Throw an ultrasonic zapper at it. The noise and vibrations drive the chipmunks away.
- Grow some onions, hyacinths, and marigolds, or plant some poisonous daffodils. The smell repels chipmunks.
- To prevent rodents from eating non-edible bulbs, soak them in thiram, a fungicide.
- Put mothballs in the storage areas, like the cellar, the shed, and the garage. Don't use mothballs in a home with kids or pets because they're toxic if swallowed.
- The chipmunks can be scared away by hanging empty pie tins, CDs, or beach balls from trees.
- Create a trap that won't hurt the chipmunks you're trying to catch.
- Tablets of aluminum phosphide, if legal in your state, can be dropped into a burrow. They produce a toxic phosphine gas when exposed to soil moisture, which is fatal to rodents. Note (See below) )
- Gas cartridges, available at most home improvement stores, release deadly carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide gas into chipmunk tunnels, suffocating the rodents to death. For clarification, see the footnote below.) )
- Use a small-caliber shotgun or other legal means to end their lives if you can. The 22-caliber gun loaded with birdshot Do not attempt this unless you have previous shooting experience. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) recommends not firing a firearm unless you have a clear idea of where the bullet will land. If you must shoot, make sure your bullet will not hit anything or anyone outside of its intended target.
Toxic fumes released by fumigants pose a threat to both humans and animals. Caution should be exercised when using gas cartridges in close proximity to buildings because of the risk of fire they pose.
You can assume that a chipmunk that finds its way into your house did so unintentionally. To get rid of them, do as follows:
- Lock pets up in a room or crate;
- Put a stop to any and all lingering noises by locking all interior doors
- Leave all exterior doors and windows open;
- Keep waiting for the chipmunk to escape.
Alternatively, you could try:
- Lures such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, cereal, and nuts can be used to set a humane trap;
- Return the chipmunk to its natural habitat.
Solution to the Problem of Chipmunk Burrows
Since then, we've learned that chipmunks use underground burrows for both harvesting food and storing it for later use. The tunnels vary in depth from a few feet in the summer to as much as 30 feet in the winter.
Ed Spicer, of Pest Strategies, says, "Because these tunnels have a network of several different connections, there can be a multitude of different, unsightly holes scattered throughout your yard." The hollow ground beneath your house, garage, or storage shed can cause structural damage over time, and these tunnels are unsightly to boot. ”
To seal off chipmunk tunnels, do as follows:
If chipmunks are a problem (see above), then filling burrows is pointless. If they run out, they'll simply create more.
Locate tunnel access points. Check for two-and-a-half-inch-diameter holes near buildings, woodpiles, and stumps.
Dig holes, then fill them with dirt, gravel, or even cat litter and pack it down as you go. Predator alert: cat poop and urine odors.
Take note that sand covered with quick-dry cement can be useful along walls and foundations. Fill the holes and then cover them with a few inches of topsoil so that vegetation can return.
In the event that these measures are ineffective, a professional exterminator may need to be contacted.
Indoors and out, you can deter chipmunks with a few easy steps:
- Caulk should be used to seal cracks and holes around the house.
- Clear the area around your home, garage, and other buildings of any debris.
- Cover a wire or plastic screen with soil and plant seeds or bulbs.
- Defend against chipmunks tunneling under your home's foundation, sidewalks, and porches by setting up L-shaped footers (mesh barriers).
- If you want to attract birds, you should keep them at least 15 feet from your house.
Date of Original Publication: December 1, 2021
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