At first glance, chipmunks are adorable. They are basically small squirrels. Chipmunks are small, dainty little creatures that scamper about. Though they tend to be most commonly found in forests, chipmunks are very commonly found in yards as well.
You may find them taking up residence under patios or walkways, around stone walls, or in gardens in particular. While they aren’t known for causing property damage, they are known for tunneling either to get to food sources or for shelter.
While digging isn’t the biggest deal in the world, it can create unsightly damage in the yard that bears fixing. There are some out there that feel as though chipmunks digging in the yard can cause serious damage and even go through wildlife control businesses to trap and kill them.
Chipmunks may cause a little unrest with their digging but going to that extreme isn’t necessary. There are more than a few ways to keep chipmunks from digging, driving them away from your yard for good.
The best way to nip the chipmunks in the bud is to prevent them from showing up in the first place. That is kind of the rule of thumb with any pest problem as it can be difficult to get rid of them once they’ve established themselves.
There are plenty of basic recommendations to follow to prevent chipmunks from permeating the area. The first is to put L-shaped footers around the foundation of your home.
It is also important to put those same footers around sidewalks, foundations other than the home, retaining walls, and porches. This should keep them from burrowing for shelter in those specific areas.
Make sure that any rock or wood piles that you have stored outside are clean and clear. Any plant growth that occurs in these areas should be trimmed back since they can provide a food source, cover, or both for chipmunks.
It is also a good idea to surround both your home and yard using a plant-free gravel border. Remember, chipmunks are looking for food sources and shelter. Taking away any avenue possible will force them to go elsewhere in search of those things.
You can even prevent them from digging up your flower bulbs by planting the bulbs underneath some plastic screen ground cover, a wire, or in some bulb cages.
Finding mesh that is 1” x 1” should be large enough to allow your plants the room they need to sprout while remaining small enough to discourage the chipmunks from continuing to dig.
Make sure that you plant bulbs that wildlife aren’t attracted to; go with something such as Allium or daffodils. If you’re just looking for decorative plants, these can be an easy alternative to having to install bulb cages or wiring that prevents the chipmunks from digging.
Another alternative to keep them from digging in your garden is to put mesh hardware cloth, about ¼-inch in thickness, around any of your flowers or garden areas. This will allow proper space and safety for the plants to grow while keeping the chipmunks at bay.
If you store firewood outside of your home, make sure that you set up some kind of perimeter to keep them from digging underneath the pile. They may find that spot suitable to live or could keep digging and wind up getting under the foundation of the home as well.
Try to keep any shrubbery from nearby wooded areas from getting close to your home. Not only will it attract the chipmunks closer to your home, but it will also give them additional access to your home via those branches.
Finally, make sure that you don’t store any food items outdoors. The most common instance of this is birdseed and pet food. If you have to keep them outside, make sure that they are stored in rodent-proof containers to keep the chipmunks from being able to get inside.
Getting Rid of Them
Perhaps the chipmunk problem is already prevalent in your yard. Prevention tips would have been helpful previously, but now the problem requires fixing.
Having more than a few ways of getting rid of the chipmunks can help you to regain control of your yard and get some semblance of sanity back into your life.
1 – Use Repellents
While there are not specifically created repellents on the market specifically designed to get rid of chipmunks, there are other repellent methods. There is some measure of debate about whether or not to use these.
That is because they aren’t specifically created with chipmunks in mind, though some squirrel repellents dictate that they will work on chipmunks just as much.
Thiram is one of the most common methods for getting rid of squirrels and, in some cases, chipmunks Make sure that the thiram is applied to the stems and bark of local trees or to the plant bulbs in your garden.
You can also use mothballs or flakes and place them around the garden. The smell should be enough to deter the chipmunks from wanting to dig underneath and can at the very least drive them away from that specific portion of your yard.
You can even make a homemade chipmunk repellent. All you need to do is mix together three ounces of Epsom salt, a teaspoon of Lysol, and a gallon of water. Spray diligently around the potentially impacted areas ensuring maximum coverage.
The strong smell should be enough to drive the chipmunks away from your yard, forcing them to look for other avenues for food and shelter.
It is important to know that if you use a product containing thiram (and any other commercial products), it should only be applied to plants that won’t be consumed by humans.
You may also have to spray again after it rains since the water can wash away these repellents.
2 – Trap and Release
If spraying your yard with repellents is not something that you want to do, there is also the process of trapping and relocating the chipmunks. This is an ethical way to deal with what can be a somewhat persistent critter.
Make sure that you check out your local municipality’s laws to see what guidelines they have for relocating the chipmunks. In some areas, relocation may not be allowed, so checking before you do anything is the smartest move.
If trapping is okay, there are a few basic tips to follow when trapping and relocating any chipmunks in your yard. First, choose a small trap that has small wire mesh around it so that the chipmunk won’t be able to escape. Typical chipmunk traps are about 10 to 20 inches long, for what it’s worth.
Put your traps in the areas that you know are heaviest with chipmunk activities. Put them near burrows and traffic paths, though the former may be a bit more difficult to find. The best locations will typically be undercover since chipmunks don’t like areas that are largely exposed.
Bait your trap by putting the bait at the back of the trap. This means that the chipmunks won’t be able to simply grab the bait and run. Put some peanut butter near the trigger plate in particular; this seems to be the most effective method for luring the chipmunks all the way into the trap.
Check your traps on a regular basis. The sooner that you relocate the chipmunk after it has been trapped, the better.
Make sure that you go at least five miles away from your home and release the chipmunks into a suitable habitat. You can also refer to your local laws for tips on how to properly release them as well.
3 – Keep Bird Feeders Protected
Another major drawing point for chipmunks are bird feeders, particularly those that are close to the ground. They tend to be attracted to the bird seed that gets spilled out of the feeders. This becomes a regular food source for them and a major attraction.
Make sure that you clean up around the feeder on a regular basis. Remove any spilled seed that may attract the chipmunks to the area. You can even replace that seed with seeds that chipmunks and squirrels don’t like (think thistle).
It is also important to place your feeders 15 to 30 feet away from any of the structures on your property such as the house, a shed, a garage, and so on. Being close to these structures just means that they have reliable, quick access to both food and shelter.
Don’t let chipmunks ruin your hard work by digging up gardens or making a mess of your yard. Implement some of the aforementioned measures and you should be able to keep those cute but disruptive little creatures away from your yard.
Prevention is always easier than removal, so it is a good idea to put preventative measures in place rather than waiting for the problem to show up. It is always recommended that you use humane removal techniques to get rid of the chipmunks rather than simply destroying them right away.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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