A chipmunk infestation is always a serious test which requires patience, diligence and proper knowledge on the topic from its victims. We are positive that competent prevention will be your best weapon in this case. Those of you who might still encounter these fluffy creatures in your backyard shouldn’t be in despair. We’ll tell you what are the best ways of getting rid of chipmunks and what traps, bait and repellents are truly effective against them.
Table of Contents:
- What Does a Chipmunk Look Like? Some Important Facts about This Rodent’s Life and Habits
- Why Are the Chipmunks Dangerous for Humans and Farms?
- How to Prevent Chipmunks?
- Best Chipmunk Control Methods: Traps, Repellents, Poisons or Extermination?
- Choosing the Best Chipmunk Traps and Bait
- How to Pick an Effective Chipmunk Repellent?
So, a chipmunk is a small rodent with specific identifiable brown fur (its hue ranges from chocolate to reddish) with 5 black and 2 white strips on its back. If you look close enough, some small strips can be seen on the face of the animal as well. The protagonist of our review loves digging the ground a bit more than other rodents. Chipmunks can dig through the entire garden in search of their favorite food, and that makes them one of the archenemies of modern farmers. Here are the facts about chipmunks which you must know in order to get rid of them successfully!
- A little more about their appearance.
Most often the chipmunks move on their four feet, yet they stand vertically when at rest. They easily use their front paws as they can hold food with it and grind it with their sharp teeth. The chipmunks most of all resemble small squirrels, 8-10 inches long (these animals belong to the same class). When running, they keep their tail up and when they find food, they hide it into their cheek pouches.
- They can visit you.
The chipmunks live out in the wild rather than in human accommodation. However, ventilation shafts, holes at cellars, open pipes look attractive to rodents. Through these objects the chipmunks can occasionally enter your house and make some trouble there!
- Where do chipmunks live?
When it comes to the choice of habitat and foraging, chipmunks are unpretentious. You can encounter them in the gardens and parks, on smooth lawns and in lush woods. In general, though, extensive vegetation still attracts these creatures a lot. They love shrubs and small trees, as well as natural shelter, such as fallen logs or stone piles. The only places where you won’t find any chipmunks are deserts, mountain forests and the northern states.
- Chipmunks are architects.
The chipmunks live in the long and deep holes, and they smartly camouflage their entrance with leaves and rubbish. They are cunning architects as they make several entrances to their hole and separate the space inside creating living rooms and food storage rooms.
- They are excellent climbers.
Don’t be surprised should you find a chipmunk on a tree. They are great climbers, albeit lazy. Either hunger or fleeing from an enemy can make a chipmunk get on top of an oak or an ash.
- They are thrifty owners.
It is not that easy to starve a chipmunk to death. We’ve already mentioned the cheek pouches, and now we’ll elaborate on their storage rooms. A single chipmunk’s hole can contain up to 9 gallons of food, and it will last long enough. They’d better not, therefore, have any time to stock up with delicious food.
- There is a chipmunk hot season.
These animals are most active when the mating season comes, first in March and April and then in July and August. Females’ pregnancy last a month, and the litter ranges from 2 to 8 individuals. By the way, these fertile little creatures will breed in a year! That’s how their population grows exponentially.
- Do chipmunks hibernate?
Yes, they do, but not the way brown bears do. Every couple of days during hibernation a chipmunk wakes up to snack, as it simply lacks enough subcutaneous fat layers. That’s why when winter is coming, the rodents store food intensely.
- It is easy to catch a chipmunk?
You can hardly do that without using special traps. These rodents are very careful and fast. They often climb elevated objects to look around. Once they feel danger, they flee and let others know that there is some trouble by squeaking loudly. Only such experienced hunters as hawks, weasels, snakes, cats and certain dog breeds can catch them out in the wild.
- Chipmunks vs. ground squirrels.
These animals’ bodies are very much alike. However, a squirrel’s body is a bit longer and there are no contrasting stripes on their heads, there are some only on their back. The chipmunks’ stripes, on the contrary, stretch along their heads.
Squirrels adore eating. Also, they dig a lot. With these qualities the majority of chipmunk-human conflicts are associated.
- They eat our crops. Squirrels consume practically everything that grows in the gardens and kale yards, be it berries, seeds, fruit, flowers, herbs, roots, mushrooms, bulbs, and even birds’ eggs and small animals! They aren’t really a big issue for serious farmers, but they surely can damage a small garden.
- They dig too much. Traces of the presence of chipmunks spoil lawns and beds. These rodents break the seedlings, and even damage the building foundations. The walls, stairwells and decorative objects in the yard are damaged by their digging activities. Of course, chipmunks aren’t capable of destroying an entire house, but they surely can cause minor damage.
- There can be too many of them. Although the chipmunks live individually, they aren’t afraid of the neighbors of the same species. Up to 4 animals with their offspring can inhabit a single acre of land, that’s why the above mentioned problems are worsened by their fertility and density of living patterns.
- They cause economic damage. David E. Williams considers chipmunks to be the animals presenting a low level of threat to major farms. However, he clarifies that “in New England, chipmunks and tree squirrels cause considerable damage to maple sugar tubing systems by gnawing the tubes”. Moreover, the rodent infestation of regular farms can cause certain damage as well.
- They bite. Chipmunks rarely attack humans. However, when shocked, this “squirrel’s cousin” can bite a child, a pet or even an adult. This usually happens when your attempts of catching the animal fail. In this case the wound will hurt and the saliva can potentially carry rabies.
Let’s see what methods of chipmunk prevention are most effective. We don’t want to use outdated advice or irrelevant recommendations found online. Our portal uses the scientists’ and state experts’ articles only as a source.
Let’s start with preventive measures. How do you make your yard unattractive to the chipmunks? The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management considers fence to be the most effective way of prevention. David Williams, the expert, suggests using an inexpensive net with miniscule cells with which you can cover crops, building foundation cavities, pipes, etc.
Another professional, Thomas G. Barnes, Extension Wildlife Specialist suggests a less radical option of using hardware cloth. “Hardware cloth is one of the best exclusion materials available. Use 1/4-inch material and be sure to bury it 6 inches to 8 inches deep to keep chipmunks from digging under sidewalks and around gardens or other important areas”.
Be sure to think about the factors that can attract rodents to your place. They, for example, love the bird feeders, even if they are hung on trees. Free access to the bowls with pet food is also dangerously attractive to them. The owners of ducks and chickens had better sweep every single grain off the ground after yet another feeding of the birds.
The Missouri Department of Conservation analysts state that the risk of chipmunk infestation is increased if you own a house near the woods or if you adore garden decorations. All the huge logs, stone gardens and bushy shrubs can become a great shelter for these pests. The experts conclude by saying that the more spacious, cleaner and well-maintained the yard is, the less it is liked by the chipmunks.
If you haven’t had a chance to fence your garden to protect it from the chipmunks, you need to ask yourself a few questions. First of all, can you do with a fence around the most important flower and plant beds and peacefully live side by side with the rodents? Second, will the appearance of a couple of animals lead to a full-scale invasion or can you catch them all and take them away? Third, you need to find out whether shooting the rodents is permitted in your region.
After that you are to track down the habitat of the antagonists. The Internet Center for Wildlife web site suggests that they are more likely to settle in small gardens in residential and farming buildings. The entrance to the hole cannot be recognized with the help of the mound of earth and mud, as is the case in moles. The chipmunks are great at disguising the entrances the diameter of which hardly exceeds 5 cm. Look for the holes near the garages, stumps, piles and weak areas of building foundations. These pieces of advice are, however, irrelevant for large gardens and farms as the hole can be anywhere.
Once you’ve finished preparing for the battle, it’s time to pick your weapon. The Missouri Department of Conservation web site considers traps and shooting of the chipmunks to be the most effective. The authorities strongly doubt the potential of repellents and fumigants on the other hand. “These are not recommended because none are known to be effective. Mothballs, in particular, are not only ineffective, they contain toxic naphthalene, and the vapor is harmful to humans”, - state the zoologists.
The great majority of their colleagues agree with this. Only the Internet Center for Wildlife considers the repellents to be relatively useful. According to it, taste repellents containing bitrex, thiram, or ammonium soaps of higher fatty acids can repel the chipmunks from certain types of seeds and plants. But a positive result is not 100% guaranteed. The experts also claim that the mothballs are not so useless after all. “Naphthalene flakes (“moth flakes”) may repel chipmunks from attics, summer cabins, and storage areas when applied liberally (4 to 5 pounds of naphthalene flakes per 2,000 square feet [1.0 to 1.2 kg/100 m2]). Use with caution, however, in occupied buildings, as the odor may also be objectionable or irritating to people or pets”, - suggests David Williams.
All experts agree on one thing: chipmunk poison cannot be used in the USA. These products are not licensed since they can damage considerably people and other animals.
All in all, the fence, traps and shooting with a BB or pellet gun or with a conventional firearm, usually rim fire ammunition, are effective. However, be careful with shooting. Remember that you must contact your local conservation officer before you begin shooting. Chipmunks are not protected by federal law, but state and local regulations may apply. Most states allow landowners or tenants to take chipmunks when they are causing or about to cause damage. Some states, (for example, Georgia, North Carolina, and Arkansas) require a permit to kill nongame animals. Other states are currently developing laws to protect all nongame species. Consult your local conservation agency or USDA-APHIS-ADC personnel for the legal status of chipmunks in your state.
In this section we’ll teach you how to make handmade chipmunk traps, find the most suitable bait for them and will identify the perfect ready-to-use traps among the traps available on Amazon.com
The functioning of the majority of these devices is not extraordinary. The Missouri Dep. of Conservation web-site considers the cage-type traps and rat-sized snap traps to be the best ones. The latter, however, can kill or disable larger animals.
The authors of "Managing Chipmunk Problems in Kentucky" memo do not hesitate and recommend using steel leg-hold or jaw traps. Burying them into the ground in front of the entrance to the hole and then covering with dirt is said to relieve you from using any bait!
Also, the guys from Kentucky suggest a medium complexity option of a tuned DIY chipmunk trap: “Burrow-entrance live-trap can be constructed out of hardware cloth. Use a 12 x 20-inch piece of 1/4- or 1/2-inch hardware cloth. Bend it three consecutive times to form a rectangle. Crimp the edges together using hog rings. Close one end of the box with a 3-inch piece of hardware cloth. Construct a door of hardware cloth and attach one end to the top of the trap so that it can move freely. Bend the opposite end so that when the door is closed, approximately 2 inches comes in contact with the floor. For best results, set the trap in a burrow where chipmunks have been seen entering. Wedge the door end firmly into the entrance and prop the trap into position with a block of wood”.
Actually, dozens of manuals on making handmade chipmunk traps can be found online. However, the experts don’t attest their high effectiveness. That’s why let us turn to some certified options available in online stores.
Havahart X-Small Professional Style One-Door Animal Trap for Chipmunk, Squirrel, Rat, and Weasel – 0745
This is a classic "16 x 6 x 6.4" trap made of stainless wire mesh with steel reinforcing for ~$23.97. The trap is protected from corrosion and rust, and it also has smaller gaps between the bars, so that an animal trapped has no chance of escaping. The trap’s trigger is very sensitive, and sash provides capture for securing the chipmunk.
Should the owner of the trap decide to save the rodent’s life and take it to another neighborhood, the secure carrying mechanism would come handy. The Chipmunk would neither be able to scratch you, nor feel any pain during transportation. By the way, apart from the chipmunks, squirrels, rats, weasels and even larger mice can be trapped here.
The customer rating of the product on Amazon.com 80% which means it is rated 4.2 stars out of 5. Among over 2200 customers’ reviews we were able to find feedback of people who caught 23 or even 40 chipmunks in a season. There were rare complaints of production defects, but there were far more positive comments. Moreover, people recommend disguising the trap with branches and leaves and checking the trap quite often in order not to make the stressed animal suffer even more.
Price: ~$23.97 Check the current price
Essential reading: Havahart X-Small Trap vs squrrels
Note that the same manufacturer offers other chipmunk trap options. The Havahart 1025 Live Animal Two-Door Chipmunk, Small Squirrel, Rat, and Weasel Cage Trap (~$23.48) has two entrances (front and rear once) and its dimensions are 17х5х7.2. The size of Havahart 1020 Live Animal Two-Door Mouse Cage Trap (~$16.97), which is also equipped with two entrances, is slightly smaller; it is 3x3 inches.
Grandpa Gus's Humane Mouse Traps - Live Catch & Release Mice Tunnels
This ~$13.99 device is not as popular as Havahart traps, but it has quite a perk to it. The manufacturers call their invention the "most humane" trap for squirrels, mice and chipmunks. It looks like a transparent tube made of soft plastic, the metal entrance of which opens only inside. After that the rodent is trapped and cannot get out even if applies force.
According to the sellers, the transparent walls make this Live Catch Trap not only safe, but also invisible to the chipmunk. It can feel and see the bait, on the other hand. The using is extremely simple, as there are no triggers, coils and magnets which would bother you. Also, Live Catch is many times lighter than its metal competitors.
What do the consumers say about it? They are sure that the product is not suitable for rats and tree squirrels, and the chipmunks do not really rise to the fly. However, unlike the Havahart case, we weren’t able to find any heroic reports of catching dozens of rodents. Perhaps, plastic is worse at letting the bait smell through. As for some serious criticism, we’ve come across the remarks of Live Cath sized at 2x3 inches being too small for larger chipmunks.
Price: ~$13.99 (4-pack) Check the current price
Intruder 16525 the Better Rodentrap
This trap is far from being humane, but it is the most cut-rate one on our list. It works very simple, like a regular trap does. Bend the stainless steel spring, put the bait and wait for the animal to come. If a chipmunk is caught in these “jaws”, the device will simply crush it. The sellers promise that there will be no blood as the jaws will either suffocate the rodent or break its neck. After that you need to get rid of the body, rinse the trap and hunt on.
The thriftiest customers will be glad to find out that the Intruder Rodentrap requires minimum chipmunk bait. Here is what such prudent gardeners share:
“I caught three chipmunks and just a few days with this very trap. I used very little peanut butter in the very center. This works better than any other trap I have ever tried." (R. Lewis).
"The intruder is easy to set and easy to release chipmunks. I have caught 4 of them this year using peanut butter and sunflower seeds on the trigger base”. (mr.Fixit)
64% of the customers consider the trap to be effective, which leads only to the 3.7 stars out of 5 rating. This isn’t much, but it isn’t little as well. Perhaps, some were discouraged by the cruelty of the method. Some customers complained of device breaking down soon, and sometimes it happened for no apparent reason.
In general, this is a bit obsolete trap of mediocre effectiveness. Yes, it works, but you will surely spend some time with Intruder.
Price: ~$6.85 Check the current price
Hoont™ Electronic Rodent Trap - Clean and Humane Extermination of Rats, Mice and Squirrels
Now it’s the time for the most controversial and scandalous trap in our rating. We’ve always been skeptic about the electronic gadgets aimed at eliminating pests. Many of them are too cheap and there can be certain homologation problems, so we study the reviews carefully and pick the best models for you only.
What can you say about this electronic rodent killer? This is a small plastic box with bait section which electrocutes mice and chipmunks. The manufacturers call this “a humane liquidation at the first attempt”. The Hoont™ Electronic Rodent Trap comes with a 5 Ft. plug-in adapter can also be operated with 4 'D' batteries (batteries not included), allowing up to 30+ kills per set of batteries. A special indicator will notify you once the catch is dead, and you’ll be able to dispose of the body without coming into direct contact with it.
We have a few more complaints against this product. Suppose, it works well at home, however, most of the chipmunks live outside. The metallic elements and the electric discharge system will hardly operate properly when it rains or even when there is fog.
Second, it is approximately 3-1/8" high and 3" wide; these dimensions are not the most suitable ones for a fatty chipmunk. Finally, unlike the case of transparent and metal traps, the rodent will only be able to identify the bait by its smell and it won’t see it. All of that reduces the potential effectiveness of the product.
The comment section of HoontTM is full of positive reviews from chipmunk haters. This thing is said to work well indoors. Still, there are reasonable claims of the possibility of a trap killing a small puppy, kitten or a hamster. Also, there is no reasonable indicator of low battery. Do we really have to stick our fingers in to check?
Price: ~$98.40 Check the current price
At the end of our trap review we’ll mention such models as Snap-E Mouse Trap-6 Pack for ~$12.43. These rodent traps can be scattered around your yard to provide for the breadth of coverage. The main drawback is that they are not always deadly for the chipmunks. Their springs are not tight enough and an animal can simply become disabled or escape the jaws of the trap on its own. So this method has the right to exist, but it surely isn’t the most humane or reasonable.
No matter which trap you use, you won’t do without bait. How to trap a chipmunk using bait? The biologists’ answer is definite: the chipmunks are attracted by the mixture of peanut butter and oatmeal, nuts or seeds. You can also add some berries to your taste!
Keep in mind that repellents cannot be your main treatment against chipmunks. Some rare substances, though, are able to repel these animals from your house. Above we’ve quoted David Williams’ recipe of using mothballs in the attic, barn and other non-residential premises. Classic IMS Original Moth Balls, 4 oz, 4 Pack (~$34.99) or Old Fashioned Moth Balls, 14 oz- Enoz (~$12.68) will do for that purpose. The main thing is to mind the dosage and not to damage environment!
Are there any other treatments, such as sprays? Amazon.com offers Eco Defense Animal & Pest Repeller for gardeners for only ~$29. Its manufacturers included chipmunks in the list of animals against which the spray is quite effective. The composition of the liquid, however, made us doubt that list. Only aromatic oils, of which the chipmunks are not really afraid, are there. Most of the comments in the Eco Defense comment sections are written by the customers who are not satisfied!
We’ve encountered most of the positive feedback concerning the Shake Away 5006358 Rodent Repellent Granules, 5-Pound for ~$32.89. According to the description, the rodents perceive their smell as the smell of predators’ urine and flee in fear. People perceive the smell as a smell of bitter peppermint. There is no scientific evidence of whether Shake Away is truly effective. However, 50% of consumers consider it such. We recommend you to familiarize yourself with their controversial reviews and draw your own conclusion!
We haven’t been able to find other chipmunk repellents in any decent online store. What about bitrex and thiram mentioned by Mr. Williams? They are most often used in large agricultural associations, and ordinary gardeners can count only on the bitrex insect poisons, such as Ortho Bug Geta plus Snail, Slug & Insect Killer, 3-Pound for ~$12.23. However, it is barely necessary to use it on chipmunks. There are too many extra substance and additions. Moreover, such insecticides are dangerous for humans and pets.
Our web site recommends to our readers to choose the means of getting rid of chipmunks depending on the level of threat they pose to you and your garden. Often they can simply be driven off your yard, or you can protect yourself with a small fence. Even if the full-extent invasion is about to happen, pay attention to humane chipmunk control products, such as the live catch traps. In this way, you’ll be able to get rid of the chipmunks without shedding their blood.
In an extreme case, use killing traps or shoot. But remember that shooting must be approved by your regional authorities!