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How to Get Rid of Chipmunks in Your Yard & Garden

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how to get rid of chipmunks

Are chipmunks taking over your flower garden or gnawing your spring bulbs?

While these critters may be cute, they’re also frustrating pests. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with them forever.

In this guide, we’ll help you learn how to get rid of chipmunks.

Safety Considerations

  1. When handling traps, wear gloves to avoid direct contact with animal carcasses. 
  2. Keep baits out of reach of children and pets, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. In cases of severe chipmunk infestations, it may be necessary to seek help from a professional wildlife removal company. 

What Kind of Damage Do Chipmunks Cause?

Are chipmunks bad for your yard? The answer is yes.

Notably, chipmunks may destroy ornamental and landscaping plants as they search for fruits and nuts. They also love to eat vegetables and can severely damage your gardens.

Occasionally, chipmunks also dig into gardens to unearth and eat flowering bulbs. In pursuit of food and shelter, chipmunks often burrow under sidewalks and porches, causing soil instability and possible structural damage.

Why Are There Chipmunks in My Yard?

Chipmunk eating a nut

Chipmunks will seek out spaces that offer food, water, and shelter.

Here’s a breakdown of what may be drawing them to your yard:

1. Food

Chipmunks are ground feeders. They eat seeds, nuts, vegetation, grain, fruit, insects, worms, bird eggs, and even nestling birds and baby mice.

2. Water

Since vegetation has a high water content, chipmunks get much of their daily water intake from their food. They’ll also drink from birdbaths, ponds, and pet bowls left out in the open.

3. Shelter

Chipmunks live, breed, and store food in an extensive network of underground burrows. To stay as safe as possible, they tend to burrow under or near manmade shelter such as fences, structures, or landscaping that includes tall grass. Chipmunks also seek out yards with plenty of trees and shrubs, which give them protection and places to climb.

What are the Signs of a Chipmunk Infestation?

Chipmunks are quick, quiet, small pests, which makes them difficult to spot. In fact, it’s possible to have chipmunks in your yard without even knowing it.

With that in mind, look for these telltale signs of a chipmunk infestation:

  1. Clumps of corn or sunflower sprouts in your yard or garden beds. Chipmunks sometimes deposit seeds in their droppings, leading to clusters of corn, sunflowers, and other plants.
  2. Depleted bird feeders. Since chipmunks eat nuts and seeds, birdfeeders are an attractive snack for them.
  3. Uprooted or gnawed-on bulbs. This sign is especially common in the spring when bulbs start to sprout and bloom. You may also see gnaw marks on your plants, flowers, and fruits.
  4. Gnawed vegetables. During hot weather, chipmunks will look for food that contains lots of water. If you notice holes eaten out of low-hanging vegetables like tomatoes, it’s a sign that chipmunks are in the area.
  5. Burrows near wood piles, brush piles, stumps, basements, or garages. Chipmunk burrows are usually about 20-30 feet long, but they can be challenging to spot since there are no mounds of dirt marking the burrow entrances. Holes to burrow entrances are small – just 2-3” in diameter. If you notice cracked sidewalks or problems with your home’s foundation, it could signify that chipmunks are making burrows on your property.
  6. Chipmunk tracks. Chipmunks have four toes on the front feet and five on the hind feet. Look for tracks in soft dirt, near the sides of your home, around your garden, or near shelters like your garden shed.
  7. Chirping sounds. A chipmunk’s call is high-pitched and intermittent.

How to Get Rid of Chipmunks

Humane Methods

1. Exclusion

Exclusion methods are the best way to keep chipmunks out of your yard. Here are the top exclusion methods to protect your property:

  • Buy ¼-inch hardware cloth and bury it in L-shapes in high-traffic areas. Focus on the corners of your home’s foundation, your sidewalks, your porches, decks, retaining walls, and your patios.
  • If you plant flowering bulbs, plant them beneath a layer of ¼-inch hardware cloth. You can also use bulb cages, which allow the bulbs to sprout while protecting them from gnawing teeth.
  • Add a plant-free gravel border around your home and yard.
  • Use 14-inch wire mesh hardware cloth as fencing around your garden, flower beds, or any other place you want to keep chipmunks out of.

Pros: Effective, affordable, humane

Cons: Labor-intensive, requires upkeep and maintenance, will not eliminate current chipmunk populations 

2. Repellents

To make exclusion methods as effective as possible, pair them with a homemade chipmunk deterrent. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Use store-bought Thiram on your plant bulbs, bark, and stems to discourage chipmunk predation.
  • Apply Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent to the area around your yard and garden. This product naturally deters chipmunks and is safe for use around people and pets. Apply the granules every day until they’re gone. We recommend applying more than the label says.
  • Scatter moth balls or flakes (generic name Naphthalene) around your gardens or any place you’ve noticed chipmunk predation.
  • Use strong-smelling substances like coffee grounds or vinegar to keep chipmunks away.
  • Make a homemade chipmunk repellent by combining chopped hot peppers or cayenne powder with a few cups of water. Simmer the mixture for 5-10 minutes, allow it to cool, blend it, strain out the solids, and transfer it to a clean spray bottle. Spray the mixture anywhere you’ve noticed chipmunk predation.
  • Use motion-activated sprays of water to deter chipmunks and other pests.
  • Use store-bought, non-toxic liquid repellents to spray on infested areas. Remember to reapply every time you water your garden and after every rainstorm. To protect your bulbs, dip them directly into liquid repellent before you plant them. Store-bought granular repellents may last longer than liquid varieties and will repel chipmunks without killing them.

One question we hear often is, “will baking soda get rid of chipmunks?” Unfortunately, that’s an old wives’ tale. Chipmunks don’t view baking soda as a deterrent and won’t stay out of your garden no matter how much you sprinkle around.

Pros: Effective, non-toxic, humane, safe for non-target species

Cons: Requires regular re-application, especially after watering or rainstorms

3. Live trapping

Small mammal trap

In addition to using repellents and exclusion methods, you can trap chipmunks with live traps.

One of the most popular ways to live-trap chipmunks is also one of the easiest. It’s commonly called the “bucket method.”

Here’s a quick guide:

  • Grab a 5-gallon bucket, some black sunflower seeds, and a small piece of wood.
  • Scatter sunflower seeds into the bucket until you can’t see the bottom.
  • Prop the piece of wood against the outside of the bucket so it works as a ramp, and place the trap anywhere you’ve noticed chipmunk activity.
  • Chipmunks will smell the sunflower seeds, run up the ramp, and hop into the bucket to eat them.
  • When they do, they won’t be able to get back out.
  • You can then loosely cover the top of the bucket with a lid to contain the chipmunks.

If you’d prefer to use a store-bought live strap, look for one- or two-door models that are 10-20” long. Wear gloves as you set the trap since chipmunks avoid human scent. Bait the trap with sunflower seeds or peanut butter.

Keep in mind that if you use a live trap (like this one) that doesn’t kill the animals, you must immediately release them, in the vicinity of the area where they were caught.

Note: Treat the animals humanely if you use DIY or store-bought traps. Check all traps daily, handle the animals carefully to avoid stressing or injuring them, and wear protective clothing to prevent contact with diseases transmitted via the animals’ urine or feces. You should also check the trapping rules and regulations that cover your area.

Pros: Live trapping can be an effective, humane way to control chipmunk populations

Cons: Requires lots of hands-on contact with chipmunks, may be illegal or restricted in your area

Conventional Methods

4. Poison Bait

As a last resort, only if all other methods fail, you can use rodenticides like strychnine to kill chipmunks. Usually, people bait traps with a mixture of lethal poison and food chipmunks love, like peanut butter.

If you’re going to use baits, be careful to use them in accordance with all applicable local laws.

Pros: Fast-acting, effective

Cons: Positions are dangerous, toxic, and unsafe for kids, pets, and non-target species. Poison is also inhumane and may be illegal in some areas. 

5. Lethal traps

Lethal traps contain and kill chipmunks quickly. Unlike drowning, these methods are considered more humane. Snap traps are some of the most common varieties available today.

Some people also use “the bucket method” as a lethal trap by filling the bucket with 4 gallons of water and scattering the sunflower seeds on top of the water. That way, when chipmunks fall into the bucket, they drown.

Tube traps are also effective and highly lethal. We’ve found this model to work well in our field tests.

We don’t advise this option since we prioritize humane removal methods that eliminate chipmunks without killing them. Additionally, drowning is not a humane form of euthanasia.

Some people think they can just shoot chipmunks, but we do NOT advise this unless you are a skilled marksman who can use firearms safely and responsibly.

Pros: Lethal traps kill chipmunks instantly

Cons: You must check lethal traps, remove dead chipmunks, and dispose of the bodies. Handling rodents presents the risk of disease transmission. Lethal traps may attract and kill non-target species. 

How do Wildlife Removal Companies Get Rid of Chipmunks?

Man inspecting a yard

If you hire a wildlife removal company to help you get rid of chipmunks, here’s what you can expect from the team:

1. Inspection

Wildlife removal companies start each job with an inspection during which they visit your property, assess the chipmunk infestation, and discuss treatment options.

2. Treatment

Next, the wildlife removal company will deploy its treatment method of choice. Trapping, repellents, and exclusion methods are the most common for chipmunks.

3. Follow-up

After the initial treatment, the wildlife removal company will provide follow-up treatments, as necessary, to control the chipmunk population and help you reclaim your property.

How to Prevent Chipmunks

  • Store all pet food and seed in rodent-proof containers.
  • Keep your garden tidy by cleaning up fruit under trees and bushes.
  • Plant natural repellents that chipmunks dislike, such as garlic and daffodils.
  • Remove materials that provide a hiding place for chipmunks, including vines, clippings, firewood piles, and debris around the home.
  • Hang your bird feeders high, and keep them many feet away from porch banisters, fences, and other chipmunk traffic areas.
  • Avoid placing shrubs or low rock boundaries near your house since these can provide shelter and safety for chipmunks.

Are Chipmunks Destroying Your Property? We’re Here to Help

If your DIY chipmunk control efforts have failed, you’ve run out of options, or you just want professional help to control these pests on your property, we’re here for you.

We offer an extensive network of reliable wildlife control companies that can help.

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Chipmunk Control FAQs

There are many types of chipmunks in the US, but the eastern chipmunks and least chipmunks are the most common. While eastern chipmunks and least chipmunks both have large cheek pouches on either side of their face, prominent, rounded ears, and distinctive stripes, least chipmunks are smaller than eastern chipmunks. 

Chipmunks dislike strong smells and avoid scents like pepper, garlic, or mint. They’re also highly sensitive to sound and tend to avoid ultrasonic pulses, loud noises, and sound-emitting devices

Since chipmunk burrows can be 20-40 feet long and filled with different rooms, chambers, and escape tunnels, it’s challenging to get rid of them by putting anything down their burrows. It may, however, be possible to deter chipmunks by placing scent-based repellents near the entrance points of their burrows.

zachary smith crop

Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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