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Signs of Chipmunk Damage and How to Control Them

Most Common Garden Animal Pests, Signs of their damage and How to Control Them

Chipmunks

Chipmunks are those adorable little tiny squirrel-like critters that you normally think of when you visit parks. Small, smart, and very adaptable, chipmunks find their way into backyards in almost all areas in the United States (and beyond). If you suffer from the cheeks and paws of crafty chipmunks, you’re not alone.

Signs of Chipmunk Damage

Signs of chipmunk damage are pretty ambiguous, but if you see these signs and see chipmunks in your garden, chances are the culprits are chipmunks:

  • Small holes in lawns and trails, usually near the foundation of the home, in the middle of a path or walkway, and along edging (this can damage paving and foundations).
  • Clumps of sunflower and corn sprouts in the yard or garden beds, or in flower pots.
  • Bulbs that have been uprooted.
  • Piles or caches of seed and grain in slightly hidden spots.
  • During hot and dry spells, holes eaten out of low hanging vegetables, especially tomatoes is a sign a chipmunk has been getting drinking water out of your garden.

How to Deter Chipmunks Humanely

If you’re tired of seeing their clumps of seed sprouting in your lawn or worried about the damage they might cause but don’t want to actually kill the little critters, there are some ways to deter them from making a home around your property.

  • Put a barrier on the ground to capture fallen seeds from bird feeders, or clean them up daily to discourage feeding chipmunks.
  • Remove all dead trees and wood and brush piles on your property, as chipmunks use these as shelter areas and places to cache food.
  • Install footers made in L shapes along your foundation. There are often these footers sold in pet stores or home improvement stores that are designed to keep dogs from digging out of fences- it’s the same concept, except around your foundation.
  • Use predator statues, like owls in the garden, as they can scare away chipmunks.
  • Think about having an indoor/outdoor cat for rodent control or allow your dog into the garden.
  • Some gardeners swear by spraying cloudy ammonia to keep chipmunks at bay.
  • Use a baited live trap like an extra small Havahart, baited with peanut butter.

Less Humane Chipmunk Control

Sometimes, playing the nice guy just isn’t cutting it- especially if they find their way into your home.

Please note: While these aren't the methods we suggest, especially, at the onset of discovering Chipmunks in your home or doing severe damage to your outdoors, they are some control measures that can be taken to permanently remove them. HOWEVER, is always best to contact someone from your local Wildlife and Resources Department for assistance or a pest exterminator.

  • Traps. There are many types that that are effective. Check with your local hardware store.
  • Rat poison: NOTE: Many sprays and poisons that could kill rodents are also very dangerous to children and pets so use them with caution. Follow directions on the package label.
  • Best Option: call an exterminator.

Final Thoughts on Chipmunks

The reality is, aside from the small holes in the lawn they create and the small tunnels they build, chipmunks are often not the cause of foundation damage or other serious damage around the property. Yes, the clumps of black oil sunflower seed and corn might be annoying- but if you think about how they do the same with seeds like acorns (that grow into beautiful oak trees), you might think differently about their caching habit. If they make it into your home there are plenty of described humane traps you can use to remove them. And, cleaning up the ground under your bird feeders will also go a long way in keeping chipmunks from becoming too brazen on your property. Sometimes, winning the battle with critters is simply learning to accept them, especially if they’re harmless.