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Chipmunks look cute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a nuisance if they make their home in your yard.
They might dig up spring-flowering bulbs and eat them, burrow into your flowerbeds or under a porch, or cause damage to plants as they harvest nuts and fruits.
Some people are happy to have chipmunks around, but if you‘d rather know how to get rid of chipmunks so they take up residence elsewhere, then there are home remedies you can use to give the critters the idea that they’re not welcome to the contents of your garden nor to live in the backyard.
6 home remedies for getting rid of chipmunks
There are also simple ways to make your yard less inviting in the first place, and we’ve put together the humane deterrents and strategies to keep chipmunks away right here.
Chipmunks are most often found in forests, so why might they be causing a problem in your yard that means you need to employ some home remedies to get rid of them?
‘There are 15 native species of chipmunk in North America,’ explains Meg Pearson from humane wildlife removal service Critter Control. ‘The two most common species in the United States are the eastern chipmunk and the least chipmunk.
‘Chipmunks are primarily in search of food, water, and shelter. Eastern chipmunks will create burrows in hidden areas under retaining walls, foundations, decks, wood piles, and garbage. Eastern chipmunks are primarily the nuisance species, however, damage and control methods are similar among all species. Chipmunks are opportunists; their diet mostly includes nuts, berries, seeds, and flowers. Yards and gardens with these plants or bird feeders will attract chipmunks.’
Before you start on your deterrent strategies, you’ll want to be sure your unwanted visitors are actually chipmunks, which you can do visually and by observing the damage they cause. ‘The eastern chipmunk grows to five or six inches long and weighs about three ounces. Although these rodents are small, they are easy to spot due to their unique markings. Both eastern and least chipmunks have black and tan/grayish lines running down the length of their backs,’ explains Meg.
‘Chipmunk burrows are one of the clearest signs of chipmunks in your yard. Chipmunk burrows are about two inches in diameter and serve as the entrance to their underground tunnel systems. You’ll often find these relatively small holes near retaining walls, foundations, decks, wood piles, and garbage.’
Meg Pearson works at humane wildlife removal service Critter Control, and 2023 marks the company’s 40th anniversary resolving wildlife and pest issues for customers.
1. Try essential oils
Essential oils can put chipmunks off your plants. ‘Bitter-taste repellents work to deter chipmunks from eating the plants in your garden,’ explains Brad Woods, district manager for Trutech Wildlife Service in Dallas-Fort Worth.
‘Essential oils like peppermint, citrus, cinnamon, and eucalyptus can work,’ he says. We suggest making up a solution with water in a spray bottle and applying around plants.
‘You will need to re-apply a few times a day or as weather conditions change,’ says Brad. ‘For example, after it rains you’ll need to reapply the essential oils.’
2. Scatter hair clippings
Bizarre as it might sound, hair clippings can repel chipmunks. ‘The secret to using repellents for chipmunks is how often you apply them,’ says Brad Woods. ‘You’ll need to re-apply them early and often before they lose their effectiveness. If you use hair clippings to repel chipmunks, make sure you have enough to adequately cover a targeted area. You will also need a steady hair supply to continuously re-apply it.’
The area you can cover could be an issue with this home remedy. ‘I would not use hair clippings to try and protect my entire yard,’ cautions Brad.
3. Sprinkle coffee grounds
Coffee grounds are something you might produce enough of to get rid of chipmunks around your most precious plants. Sprinkle them around the plants to put off the critters. There’s an additional benefit to using this home remedy. Coffee grounds for plants are a great way to boost growth.
4. Pay attention to bird feeders
If chipmunks are taking the food you’ve provided for the feathered visitors to your yard, then there are ways to put a stop to their activities. First of all, be sure to relocate any bird feeders that are accessible by chipmunks. Clear up the seeds that are spilled from feeders, too.
You might want to change what you feed to a food chipmunks don’t like. ‘They’re not fond of thistle, but sunflower seed is a favorite,’ according to the Humane Society of the United States. Baffle guards for bird feeders, at Amazon, will also help deter them.
Relocating bird feeders can also help with getting rid of squirrels, which love nuts and berries.
5. Modify your yard
What’s known as habitat modification is a great way to get rid of chipmunks – and doesn’t require calling in wildlife professionals.
‘A homeowner should eliminate or greatly reduce anything that provides cover or shelter for chipmunks,’ says Trutech Wildlife Service’s Brad Woods.
‘Ground cover, trees, and shrubs planted in such a way that provides continuous ground cover give chipmunks avenues to travel undetected by predators. Chipmunks dig their burrows in well-hidden areas like under shrubs, wood or rock piles, under porches, or alongside walls and foundations. Do not create additional shelter options alongside your house or near your garden. Remove debris piles. Do not stack wood against your house.
‘Backyard landscaping features, such as ground cover, trees, and shrubs, should not be planted in a continuous fashion that connects wooded areas with the foundations of homes. Plants like English ivy give chipmunks and other rodents cover to move undetected from predators.’
6. Make like a predator
OK, we have to admit that this one isn’t quite a home remedy – but it is a humane way to deal with a chipmunk problem in your backyard.
‘Chipmunks have natural predators such as foxes, raccoons, and coyotes,’ says Jamie Nichols of Arrow Exterminators. ‘Predator urine can be purchased online. Putting some drops of urine around the holes of the chipmunks and in the areas you see the chipmunks could drive them away to another location. Make sure to wear gloves and follow directions for usage/handling instructions.’
Jamie is the senior services center manager at Arrow Exterminators, a residential, family-owned pest control service established in 1964. Arrow is proud to be QualityPro Certified by the National Pest Management Association, a third-party verified certification earned by less than 3% of pest control companies in the US.
Do mothballs repel chipmunks?
Mothballs are a home remedy you’ll find recommended to get rid of chipmunks that have made a home in your backyard. However, we strongly advise that you don’t try this strategy.
Mothballs can be poisonous for cats, dogs, and other species, so even if you don’t have companion animals sharing your property, those passing through could be harmed by mothballs.
What will keep chipmunks away?
To keep chipmunks away, design your yard so it’s not an appealing habitat. ‘A long-term solution for chipmunk control would be habitat manipulation, which involves changing their environment to make it less hospitable for them,’ advises Jamie Nichols, senior services center manager at Arrow Exterminators.
‘This can include using landscape materials such as stone, gravel, or rock, eliminating low bushes and harborage for the chipmunk, creating less places to hide.’
You can grow chipmunk-repellent plants, but if you want to save bird food for the birds and keep your garden looking its best, home remedies are easy and inexpensive solutions you can use to rid of chipmunks.
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Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.
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