- 1. Use a humane trap
- 2. Remove any sources of food
- 3. Consider an ultrasonic deterrent
- 4. Protect your plants
- 5. Find alternative storage for log piles
- 6. Keep your yard clean and tidy
- 7. Protect bird feeders from dropping seeds
- 8. Consider a non-lethal rodent repellent
- What attracts chipmunks?
- How to identify a chipmunk
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Although one of the cuter pests, if you have spotted them lingering in your yard then the chances are you want to know how to get rid of chipmunks once and for all.
Despite their diminutive size, chipmunks can be incredibly destructive, whether they dig up your flower garden or disrupt your manicured lawn. The good news, however, is that, like getting rid of squirrels, getting rid of chipmunks from your lawn can be easy with the right expert tips and a little bit of patience.
Here, pest control experts have explained how you can get rid of chipmunks from your yard humanely.
1. Use a humane trap
Below, we have listed some effective measures for preventing chipmunks, but for a fast solution to an existing problem, you may want to consider using a humane trap – much like when getting rid of moles, or getting rid of lizards. Chipmunks are most active during the day time which, in theory, will make them easier to relocate.
‘When it comes to traps, it is important to use humane options that do not harm the chipmunks,’ says Gulshan, biotechnologist and pest researcher at Pest Keen. ‘Live traps are a good option as they allow you to catch the chipmunk and release it into the wild. However, it is important to note that trapping and relocating chipmunks may not be legal in all areas, so be sure to check local regulations before using this method.’
How to use a humane chipmunk trap
Place a humane chipmunk trap, available at Amazon, in an area where you have seen chipmunk activity. In the yard, this may be along a fence, wall or near shrubs.
Add some bait, such as peanut butter or sausage. The trap recommended above has a hook for hanging the bait onto. Alternatively, place 1oz of the bait behind and on the pedal.
Test the trigger mechanism before leaving the trap in place.
Be sure to check on the traps regularly so chipmunks can be released quickly, to avoid any distress caused to them while in the humane trap.
Approach and handle the trap with care, ideally wearing some gloves to protect your hands.
When releasing any chipmunks you have caught, make sure to move them far away from your property and to a safe area of wilderness away from roads to keep them safe and prevent them from coming back.
Don't forget to clean the trap thoroughly before using it again.
2. Remove any sources of food
Removing pest food sources from your yard, or inhibiting access, is one of the most effective ways of tackling pest problems, from getting rid of skunks to ridding yourself of chipmunks.
‘Firstly, it is important to understand that chipmunks are attracted to places where they can find food, water, and shelter. They are known to be opportunistic feeders and will eat a wide range of things, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables,’ explains Gulshan.
‘Therefore, the first step to getting rid of chipmunks is to remove any food sources that may be attracting them to your property. This can include cleaning up fallen fruits and nuts, storing bird seed in sealed containers, and removing any other potential food sources.’
Gulshan is a biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher, helping people deal with pests in the most humane and eco-friendly way.
3. Consider an ultrasonic deterrent
Also perfect for keeping wasps away from your porch and getting rid of bats humanely, ultrasonic deterrents are humane noise machines that make your yard unpleasant for pests such as chipmunks to hang around in, explains Gulshan of Pest Keen.
‘An effective way to deter chipmunks is to use ultrasonic repellents. These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are designed to be unpleasant for chipmunks and other rodents, making them less likely to stay in the area. While these repellents can be effective, it is important to note that they may not work in all cases and may need to be used in combination with other methods,’ she warns.
4. Protect your plants
Oftentimes, it is your perfectly manicured gardens and flower beds that are attracting chipmunks to your yard. There are a few steps you can take to help protect your plants and deprive the chipmunks of snacking opportunities.
‘Make sure flower bulbs are planted beneath a layer of ¼in hardware cloth or in bulb cages to prevent chipmunks from digging them up,’ suggests Jordan Foster of Fantastic Services. ‘The cloth should then be covered with soil. Plants will sprout through the mesh grid, but bulbs will be protected.’
‘If you have chipmunks snacking on your precious garden foliage, place hardware cloth, at Amazon, about one foot underneath the soil and over the top of your plants to prevent chipmunks (along with other digging rodents and animals) from getting to your garden. Once you've done that and removed the primary chipmunk attractants on your property, you can then proceed to fill any holes they have left behind, adds Zackary DeAngelis, pest control expert and founder of Pest Pointers. ‘Be mindful that you may have to continue this process while they make new entrances until the chipmunks realize that there isn't anything left for them in your yard.’
Zack ended up founding Pest Pointers in the summer of 2019 due to his love of the outdoors and vast experience dealing with wildlife having grown up on 50+ acres of land, where living in a place surrounded by woods, swamps, and animals gave him a ton of experience in dealing with the outdoors.
5. Find alternative storage for log piles
If you have a cozy wood burner, then the chances are you also have piles of firewood somewhere in your yard. These piles offer perfect shelter for small chipmunks, however, encouraging them to make a home in your yard. ‘Keep firewood and leaf piles away from your home so that chipmunks cannot burrow underneath them (and possibly under the foundation of your home),’ warns Jordan Foster, pest control supervisor at Fantastic Services.
Instead, consider some locked or concealed backyard storage instead to keep your logs dry and free from pests.
6. Keep your yard clean and tidy
‘Cleaning your yard is another way to discourage chipmunks from setting up shop,’ explains Gulshan, pest researcher at Pest Keen. ‘Chipmunks love to burrow, and they will often use piles of leaves, brush, and other debris to create their homes. By keeping your garden clean and tidy, you can make it less attractive to these critters.’
7. Protect bird feeders from dropping seeds
Birds are excellent pest control experts in their own right, and creating a wildlife garden with a bird feeder is a great way to encourage these creatures into your yard. The downside is that birdseed is a perfect snack for chipmunks, encouraging them into your space too.
‘If you have bird feeders, protect them,’ says Jordan Foster, pest control supervisor. ‘Ground feeder chipmunks are drawn to seeds spilled from bird feeders. Frequently clean up the seeds. The type of seed you choose should not attract chipmunks like thistle. Bird feeders should be placed at least 15 to 30 feet from any structure.’
‘You should never store food outside, including pet food and birdseed, unless stored in rodent-proof containers.’ he adds.
H&G also rounded up some excellent methods to keep squirrels away from bird feeders that can work with opportunistic chipmunks too.
8. Consider a non-lethal rodent repellent
As with getting rid of mice, it is important to consider non-lethal rodent repellents over poisons and toxins. Not only are poisons unnecessarily harmful to rodents, but can damage plants, soil, and other non-harmful creatures such as hedgehogs or even household pets.
‘You can find a variety of rodent repellents on the market that hopefully will work for you. Besides sprays and repellent sold in stores, you can make your repellent easily at home,’ advises Jordan Foster, pest control expert at Fantastic Services. ‘Puree garlic and hot peppers in one cup of hot, soapy water until the water is cool. Strain and add one tablespoon of oil. Shake well and spray onto the plants you wish to keep out of reach of chipmunks.’
Making your own sprays is also a good alternative to harsher commercial chemical repellents you can find in stores, Gulshan adds.' Commercial options can be effective, but they can also be harmful to other animals and should be used with caution.’
A repellent spray may not be the perfect solution for getting rid of chipmunks when used on its own, however, warns Zack DeAngelis of Pest Pointers. ‘While you can use things like scent repellents and specific rodent sprays, they're generally supplemental and need to be practiced with exclusion methods to be as successful as possible.’
What attracts chipmunks?
As with getting rid of larger pests like getting rid of raccoons, understanding what attracts chipmunks to your property can help deter them, and prevent them from returning after removal.
‘Chipmunks are attracted to two main things in your yard: Food and shelter,’ begins Zack DeAngelis, pest expert at Pest Pointers. ‘Generally, they won't build a shelter if they don't have a food source, so that's the main thing you want to watch out for.
‘Fallen seeds from bird feeders, acorns, berries, small insects, and garden plants, are at the top of a chipmunk's preferred dinner menu. You'll want to make sure to limit these as much as possible by keeping on your yard maintenance and picking up any potential unnecessary food sources.
‘Chipmunks also love tall grass and hedges as it can provide protection from predators outside of burrows, so make sure to keep your grass trimmed and keep your landscaping as maintained as possible to make your yard less attractive to them,’ he suggests.
How to identify a chipmunk
There are two ways to determine whether or not it is a chipmunk destroying your yard. Firstly, you can recognize them on sight. ‘When it comes to identifying chipmunks, they are easy to spot due to their distinctive markings,’ explains Gulshan of Pest Keep. ‘Chipmunks have brown fur with stripes on their backs and sides, and they have a white stripe above their eyes. They are typically around five to six inches long and weigh around two to three ounces.’
The second way to recognize chipmunks is by the damage they leave behind, especially if you can't spot any in your yard. ‘Chipmunks are most commonly identified by the 'lovely' little burrows they make. When I say little, I actually mean huge, as their entire underground system can span up to 30 ft long and two to three feet deep,’ explains Zack DeAngelis of Pest pointers.
‘As you can imagine, this has the potential to cause quite the amount of structural issues for your property as their tunneling has the potential to reach your garden bed where chipmunks will have full access to the most important part of your plants: the roots.’
‘The most common chipmunk plant damage is the uprooting of bulbs,’ Zack continues. ‘However, you'll more than likely notice small holes on your property, which are the entrances to the chipmunks' burrow generally around two inches wide.
These are usually somewhere near the foundation of your home. You'll know if it's an active burrow by how fresh the dirt is around the entrance. If it's dry and pale, it's probably an old burrow entrance. In this instance, you should check your yard for more entrances to see where the active burrow starts. In many cases, however, there are usually multiple burrow entrances where the chipmunks could be entering from.’
What do chipmunks hate the most?
Chipmunks are particularly adverse to garlic, pepper, and mint scents, making these ideal natural repellents to help prevent or deter small groups of chipmunks from your property.
Do chipmunks bite humans?
Chipmunks will bite humans if the feel threatened. Although their first instinct is to run away, cornering and handling chipmunks, especially wild ones, is ill-advised as they will naturally attempt to defend themselves by scratching and biting if needed. These wounds can easily become infected, so should be treat by a professional soon after.
‘Chipmunks are among the cutest rodents, but they can also be dangerous. Their burrows might even cause structural damage to a house,’ warns Jordan Foster, pest control supervisor at Fantastic Services. It is, therefore, essential to deal with chipmunks as soon as you spot them.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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