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How to Get Rid of Chipmunks

Although they seem like the stuff of Disney cartoons, chipmunks are substantially less cute and cuddly if they’ve gotten into your garden or your home.

A chipmunk holding a small red tomato in a garden. Adobe

Chipmunks can be found nearly everywhere in North America. As pests, they’re mostly nuisances that eat your plants and dig up your garden, but they can sometimes carry diseases or cause structural damage. We’ll show you how to identify what’s attracting chipmunks, how to get rid of them safely and humanely, and how to protect your home and lawn from chipmunks moving back in.

Because chipmunks are relatively large pests that can be difficult to repel humanely, it’s often a good idea to consult with a professional pest control company. Call Terminix at 866-569-4035 or Orkin at 877-868-1416 to get a free estimate for rodent control services.

How Do I Know If I Have Chipmunks?

Chipmunks find their way from the woods to human dwellings for all the reasons you might expect: food, water, and shelter. If you have a fruit or vegetable garden, growing produce might attract them. Chipmunks eat flowering bulbs, fruits, and young plants, but they can even disrupt plants and seeds they don’t eat. You’re also likely to find these rodents underneath bird feeders, eating bird food that has fallen to the ground.

Chipmunks are also natural tunnel diggers. Some people report chipmunk damage to sidewalks caused by their burrowing, but the Humane Society insists this is not true. Tunnel entrances are usually near a structure like a wood pile, a rock, or your home’s foundation.

It’s somewhat rare that chipmunks will actually infest your home, but they can squeeze into surprisingly tight places. If they make it inside, it’s usually into a basement or crawlspace, though they may get into the walls, too. If this happens, you’ll hear scratching or chirping sounds. Check out-of-the-way places in your home for chew marks on wood, stockpiles of food, or excrement to confirm a chipmunk problem.

How to Get Rid of Chipmunks

The good news is that chipmunks don’t tend to congregate in large numbers—a yard may only hold up to 20 or so chipmunks. Here’s how to get them out.

How to Repel Chipmunks

Unlike with some other pest infestations, attempting to repel chipmunks is a good first and non-lethal step. Repellents tend to fall into one of several categories.

Natural repellents are non-synthetic items that chipmunks find distasteful. Human hair—which you can acquire by asking your barber for a bag of trimmings—sprinkled around the perimeter of a garden reportedly does the trick. Fox or other predator urine can work, though it also smells repellent to human noses.

Some natural repellents are meant to be sprayed directly onto the plants chipmunks might eat; a mixture of water and cayenne pepper or chili powder is one of these. Keep in mind you may have to reapply natural repellents frequently.

Synthetic repellents are specially-formulated chemicals used to drive chipmunks away by scent or taste without being harmful to other wildlife. Most squirrel repellents will also repel chipmunks, and this includes things like anti-rodent spray, granular repellents to put in the soil, and taste-aversion repellents containing Bittrex and thiram. These tend to last a little longer than natural repellents, but you will still need to reapply them regularly.

The last type of repellents uses ultrasonic frequencies or pulses of water to frighten chipmunks away. Unfortunately, these tend to be expensive and only work above ground, not in chipmunk burrows or tunnels. You can also try statues of predators, such as an owl decoy. Some home and garden stores even sell decoys that light up or flap their wings.

How to Trap Chipmunks

If you can’t find an effective repellent, you can try using non-lethal, or live, traps to catch the chipmunks and release them far away from your property. You can buy these traps at your local hardware store and set them up near tunnel entrances or other infested areas, baiting the traps with peanut butter or sunflower seeds. Always double-check local regulations about trapping and releasing animals.

How to Prevent Chipmunks From Coming Back

Of course, the problem with repelling or trapping chipmunks is that they can make their way back to your yard or house. To prevent this from happening, try the following methods in conjunction with repellents:

  • Clear yard debris, clutter, rock piles, and wood from your yard to remove hiding places, and trim back overgrown bushes.
  • When berries, seeds, or nuts fall to the ground, sweep them up as soon as possible to remove food sources.
  • Store birdseed and pet food in airtight containers.
  • Surround your garden or even your home with a “moat” of a few inches of gravel, which will remove plants that can act as hiding places as well as deter digging and tunneling.
  • Put a wire mesh fence around the garden, buried about 8 inches into the soil.
  • Similarly, bury special L-shaped barriers or footers near house foundations, around decks, and anywhere else you want to prevent tunneling.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices leading into your home with caulk or expanding foam. Cap chimneys and seal vents and gutters with metal hardware cloth.

Fortunately, many of these methods will also help keep away other pests such as insects and spiders.

What If I Still Have Chipmunks?

Generally, it’s a good idea to explore humane solutions first. However, if you have a chipmunk infestation that you can’t solve, there are lethal methods of removal. For these, though, you’ll want to call in a professional pest control service. Not only do you not want chipmunks to die and decompose within your home, attempting to poison or otherwise kill chipmunks on your own could have disastrous consequences for other animals, including pets.

We recommend both Terminix and Orkin for providing rodent control. Both companies offer free inspections and will work with you to find a pest control solution. Call Terminix at 866-569-4035 or enter your ZIP code here for a free estimate. You can also fill out this simple form or call 877-868-1416 to get a free quote from Orkin.

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