How To Get Rid of Chipmunks (Complete Removal Guide)
No matter how cute they are, we all can agree that a few chipmunks (or even just one!) can cause some serious damage to your yard, garden, car, and even your house!
From unsightly chipmunk tunnels, uprooted plants in your garden, wires chewed in your car, and chipmunk damage in your house, it's imperative to know the proper steps to take for effective and long-lasting chipmunk control.
This is where we come in.
With our expertise, we'll give you the insider scoop on chipmunk removal from home:
Everything from how to get rid of chipmunks naturally to how to remove these pesky guys with chipmunk poison.
Let's get into it!
Why Are Chipmunks Even a Problem?
Well, for starters, chipmunks can do so much more damage to your stuff than their small statures would have you believe. At their most innocent, they dig their burrows in your yard. At their worst, they can find their way into the walls of your home.
Still not convinced that chipmunks need to be removed before they have a chance to damage your property? Keep reading, you may change your mind.
Do Chipmunks Dig Holes in Lawns?
If you've ever seen a chipmunk, you can remember their bulging cheeks, where they store food during transport to their homes for the winter. But...where are they taking this food they've gathered?
Chipmunks are hibernating animals, which means they dig a complex network of tunnels underground where they sleep and live during the harsh winter months. These chipmunk burrows have holes at the ground level, which translates to a series of ugly holes in a yard with a chipmunk invasion.
Chipmunk holes around foundations of houses, garages, and sheds are not just ugly, but very dangerous. With a few temporary holes, you won't see too much of a problem. However, after a few years of rapid chipmunk breeding and living underground, these holes can weaken your building's structure and cause internal damage to the frame.
How to stop chipmunk holes? Well, first you need to combat the source of the issue: the chipmunks themselves.
What Happened to My Garden?
Because chipmunks have such a varied set of taste buds, they can (and will!) often ransack a garden to get a taste of something new. Additionally, these little guys have teeth which grow constantly and need to be trimmed or clipped by any means necessary. In the wild, this means that a chipmunk will always chew anything it can get its paws on...including your garden plants. Thick, lush leaves provide a certain texture that chipmunks love to crunch, and thick roots are perfect for munching when the chipmunk's gums feel irritated.
Will Chipmunks Harm My Car?
It's not a fun thought to have, but yes, chipmunks may chew clean through exposed wires in your vehicle. They do this (in addition to relieving irritation from their growing teeth) for two reasons:
- The car is warm. During chilly months before or directly after hibernation, chipmunks are not living in their deep burrows. They will often seek refuge in warm spots wherever they can be found...and this means your car is a prime target. Once you switch off the ignition and walk inside your home, the engine is still nice and cozy, perfect for nesting. They can find the wires and gnaw through them like a snack.
- They are curious. If wires in the car are hanging down from the undercarriage at eye level, chipmunks will absolutely be attracted to them. Even if the chipmunks don't ingest any part of the car wires, they toughness and thickness make them a wonderful chew toy for chipmunks.
"I Think I Have A Chipmunk In My House!"
If chipmunks don't create the proper burrows to survive the winter underground, they'll look into pre-made structures. Cars usually aren't ideal for this kind of makeshift burrowing, as they aren't stationary. A chipmunk may take temporary shelter in the underbelly of a warm car for a few hours, but then it's time to find a more suitable long-term shelter.
Their favorite hideaway?
Due to their powerful sets of teeth, chipmunks can gnaw their way through baseboards and into crawl spaces, where they can take up residence in the burrow-like conditions between walls. Popular "chipmunk-in-house" signs include:
- small teethmarks and scratches around holes in the structure
- scampering paw sounds without seeing an animal
- the distinctive chipmunk "chirp" sounding too close to be outside
Identifying a Chipmunk
Oftentimes, people think of squirrels and chipmunks interchangeably. They both look almost like tree-dwelling cats, they both love acorns and nuts, and they both have distinct tails attached to their graceful bodies.
While the chipmunk is a cousin to the tree squirrel, they have some remarkable differences in the face of their similarities.
What Do Chipmunks Look Like?
The chipmunk is most easily identified by its white "racing stripes": a pair of stripes outlined in black which extend along its entire body. Beginning on the back of the head and elongating down the backside to the tail, these stripes are a recognizable trait that points out the chipmunk clearly.
Speaking of the tail, this is another stark difference between the chipmunk and the squirrel. Many people assume that a chipmunk's tail is bushy and fluffy like that of a squirrel. This is, however, not the case: the tail of a chipmunk is surprisingly flat, with fur that looks somewhat uniform to the fur length of the rest of the chipmunk's body.
One striking clue that you're looking at a chipmunk is, of course, the size of its cheeks. This is probably the most well-renowned feature of the chipmunk is its ability to stretch its cheeks up to THREE TIMES its normal size! This is an unique way the chipmunk species has evolved to be able to carry food hands-free.
Where Do Chipmunks Live?
There are around two dozen different species of chipmunks out there, and all but one live on the North American continent. The Siberian chipmunk is the only outlier, as it lives primarily in Asia, though it's currently migrating across the borders of the European continent.
Chipmunks love wooded areas with lots of trees and foliage. If you have lots of trees in a confined space, you can be sure that there's a chipmunk population burrowing below. As discussed previously, chipmunks live in underground communities together.
The number of how many chipmunks live together relies heavily on outside factors; things like availability of constant food supply, a lack of predatory presence, and shelter from natural disasters or elemental concerns.
What's So Special About Chipmunk Teeth?
As noted in the beginning section, chipmunks have a set of very special teeth called incisors. These incisors are incredibly sharp and effective in crunching through thick items like wood, wires, and plant bulbs.
Why are these teeth important to know about?
Well, they never stop growing...
Throughout the life of a chipmunk, these teeth will grow and grow, leading to irritation after just a few months of life. As this growth continues, the incisors eventually dig into the top part of a chipmunk's mouth in an upward curl. In captivity, chipmunk caretakers will clip these teeth, but in the wild, chipmunks need to undertake this task through whatever means necessary.
Because of this urge to break their own teeth, chipmunks desperately gnaw on whatever they can find. Though a bite to a human is not unheard of, it's highly unlikely. Most of the time, chipmunks like to chew on hard, tough, inanimate objects like wood, nuts, and--you guessed it--your personal property.
Can A Chipmunk Hurt You?
When you find out that you have some uninvited guests burrowing below your home, it's your first instinct to wonder what biological concerns they can cause you or your family.
While these animals are not known to be vicious, understanding the sort of damage they have the potential to do to a human being can help you in case of an emergency.
Will Chipmunks Bite You?
Because of the natural urge for a chipmunk to constantly chew on things, it's not outside of the realm of possibility that they could chomp right down on an unsuspecting human nearby.
However, this is highly unlikely.
Well, chipmunks understand what they're up against. They realize that they are the smallest animals in the squirrel family, and they're not willing to bet their safety against a human (which appears as a giant in their eyes). In times of extreme duress, a chipmunk may bite a human, but even then, it's more likely that they'll bolt away from danger.
So, Are Chipmunks Dangerous to Humans?
Chipmunks are considered to be part of the rodent family. According to date collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these animals can carry a multitude of diseases which can be spread to humans through close proximity.
In addition to these diseases, chipmunks can also carry internal parasites like intestinal protozoa, roundworms, and tapeworms. These can spread to pets, kids, and humans via chipmunk feces.
Lastly, chipmunks can serve as a host for ticks, some of which carry Lyme Disease. These ticks can reproduce rapidly and transfer to a pet, or even directly to a human.
Can Chipmunks Carry Rabies?
While rabies in a chipmunk can happen, it's unlikely. Small rodents and members of the squirrel family usually don't contract rabies in the wild, even if they are bitten by a rabid animal.
Driving the Chipmunks Away
At this point, you are familiar with the identifying traits of a chipmunk, its chewing habits, the danger it may pose to humans, and what it can do if left undisturbed on your property.
Now, it's time to learn about steps you can take to get the chipmunks out of your hair. There are two paths one can take when eliminating pesky chipmunks: lethal methods and non-lethal methods. We'll outline the most popular recommendations and provide some insight on how best to utilize these tactics for maximum success.
Getting Rid of Chipmunks With Moth Balls: Good Idea or Bad Idea?
The solution to rid your home and garden of pests with moth balls has been around for decades, and chipmunks fall within that blanket of "targeted pests" which moth balls can eliminate. Not only are these balls beneficial to kill off unwanted guests, but they're affordable, easy to find, and a snap to use. All you have to do is set them out and let them work their magic.
However, in recent years, the suggestion to use moth balls to target pests has fallen somewhat out of favor. Moth balls are 100% poison, and easily mistaken by children to be candy. Also, pets have no way of knowing what they are, and often ingest them as well.
Because of this, we do not recommend using moth balls to deter or kill chipmunks if you have pets or children near your yard.
Even if you're in a house with only adult residents and you choose to utilize moth balls, we advise to err on the side of caution. Wear gloves and breathe away from these toxic chemicals.
The Pros and Cons of Chipmunk Poison
By using poison pellets or baits, you are effectively eliminating chipmunks. This is often the final step in ridding your home or yard of these animals, and for good reason.
The poison can be found by kids or pets, leading to severe harm or death. This isn't strictly limited to moth balls; these poison baits can be fatal if the proper handling precautions aren't taken.
If the poison is ONLY eaten by chipmunks as intended, you must be extremely diligent in disposing of chipmunk bodies. If this isn't done (or if you miss a body by mistake, which is very likely to happen), the rotting carcass can attract even worse creatures to your yard like flies, rats, raccoons, an other vermin. This is exactly what you DON'T want in your yard, so if you make the decision to go with poison, it's best to understand the responsibility involved in timely cleanup.
What's the Chipmunk Trap Bucket? Does it help get rid of chipmunks?
This is an incredibly popular home remedy to get rid of chipmunks. Its effectiveness lies within its simplicity: this trap only has a few pieces, all of which can be found in a local hardware store for just a few bucks.
The trap works by attaching some ramps to the side of a five-gallon bucket, which is half-filled with water. These ramps provide a way for the chipmunks to climb to the edge. It's important to dump bait into the water to make it seem like the bucket is full of bait, and most commonly recommended for this is black sunflower seeds. The chipmunk will dive right into the bucket to eat the seeds, then drown in the water.
However, there are some rolling bars on the market which attach to the top of the bucket and propel the chipmunk downward. These bars eliminate the need for bait inside the water, as most people smear peanut butter along the bar to lure in the chipmunk.
While this is one of the most effective lethal chipmunk traps, please be advised that the risk for biological contaminants is even higher. A chipmunk's body will be floating in stagnant water, which can be unhygienic at best and full of diseases at worst.
What Do Chipmunks Fear?
By tapping into the mortal fear of a chipmunk, you can do your part to drive it away on its own. The chipmunk is afraid of large, airborne predators like owls, so by placing a fake decorative owl outside on your property, you can trick the chipmunk into thinking that there's a constant source of danger lurking around.
However, this process is slow and can take a while to stick, especially if you have a full den of chipmunks burrowing below. Also, it's crucial to keep your owl looking clean. Otherwise, it won't seem so threatening to the chipmunks.
The Nose Knows
By using scents that chipmunks hate, they won't want to be on your property anymore. This type of action will elicit a stronger reaction than scare tactics, because when your property smells bad to a chipmunk, it's no longer a pleasant place for these animals to hang out.
Scents like peppermint, eucalyptus, cinnamon, citrus, and garlic are displeasing to chipmunks' noses. By spraying these scents in areas where you have a chipmunk population, you'll be on track to scaring them away for good.
What's a Box Trap, and Is It Really Effective?
These traps are metal boxes with doors that close via a spring attached to a bait platform. They're the most popular type of non-lethal chipmunk trap due to their affordability, size, and years of effectiveness.
Here's how the box trap works: when the chipmunk steps on the platform to take the bait, the spring snaps the doors closed. The animal then must be set free in the wild by a human. These traps are same and humane, but chipmunks may not be deterred by this type of trap over long periods of time.
If you're interested in traps for your problem, check out the below video.
Getting Rid of Chipmunks, Once And For All
Whether you see just one chipmunk scampering across your yard, a few of them together, or you've spotted the telltale chipmunk tunnels, it's clear that action must be taken to drive them out.
By using the information above, we recommend these tips to take back your home and get on with your life.
Resort to Lethal Methods Only If All Else Fails
If you immediately start killing chipmunks, you will essentially have to kill every last one of them. To drive them out in multiples, be sure to use a method like a scare tactic or scent repellent first. This way, more chipmunks will be affected, and they'll just migrate away from your home with no harm done to either to animal or your property.
If you DO use a lethal method, the onus will fall on you to COMPLETELY clear all chipmunk bodies from your property in order to keep scavenger animals at bay. The last thing you want is to eliminate chipmunks, but replace them with flesh-eating vermin!
Trial and Error is Paramount
In the enterprise of warding off chipmunks, it's important to remember one undeniable fact: not every repellent or scare tactic will work. Some species of chipmunks aren't repelled by the same scents that disgust others, or have simply evolved to tolerate them. Not every chipmunk will be afraid of a plastic owl or scarecrow you put outside.
Trying new things is of grave importance when you are testing out tactics to work on your particular family of chipmunks. Just like in life: if at first you don't succeed, try again.
If possible, park your car in a garage or away from the path of a chipmunk. Not only do the wires inside seem attractive as chew toys to these guys, but the dark and tunnel-like underside of a car is ideal for nesting. However, chipmunk dens are not always the most polite guests; they can tear up your car or even be seriously harmed if you drive away while they're nesting inside.
We all know how valuable a car is to the American lifestyle, and how expensive even minor repairs can be. Protect your vehicle as much as possible from these pests while you are trying out different methods of expunging them from your property.
Patience Is A Virtue
Remember, this is YOUR home we're talking about.
It may not be easy to get rid of all your problem chipmunks, but it's certainly worth it in the long run. After all the options within this guide have been exhausted, there's one more absolute-last-resort option to consider.
Having a professional animal control specialist come to your home is not recommended, but still within your power as far as removing chipmunks from your property. This step is only recommended in dire cases due to the expense; it's much more economical (not to mention feasible) to take matters into your own hands. Also, an animal control specialist will focus on killing the chipmunks rather than humanely removing them. Most people don't want to do any harm, they just want their home back.
The Bottom Line
When you're dealing with pesky chipmunks, it's easy to downplay the destruction they have the potential to cause due to their seemingly innocent appearances. However, underestimating these creatures is one of the worst things you can do.
With our guide, we've given you insight into how these creatures look, what drives them to chew through your stuff, and how they can turn your yard upside down if you're not careful.
In addition, we've let you know all the secrets to ridding your home and garden of these little guys once and for all.
With these methods in place, you'll be filling in your chipmunk tunnels and replanting your garden in no time!