There are numerous tactics for controlling chipmunks that are causing concern or damage to your property; these range from preventive measures, such as exclusion, to repellents and trapping. Because chipmunks are rodents, many of the same tactics can be used for chipmunks as for rats, mice and squirrels.
Prevention and Exclusion
The Humane Society recommends making changes to your yard to reduce the impacts of chipmunks without having to trap them. Its recommendations include:
- Use an L-shaped footer to keep chipmunks from burrowing around foundations, sidewalks, porches, and retaining walls.
- Remove wood or rock piles and trim back plantings that provide cover or food sources.
- Surround the area with a plant-free gravel border.
- Plant flower bulbs beneath a wire or plastic screen ground cover or in bulb cages. This mesh should be large enough (1 x 1 inch) to allow plants to sprout but small enough to prevent digging.
Other exclusion methods include:
- Use rodent-proofing techniques to exclude rodents, including the placing of ¼-inch mesh hardware cloth around gardens and flowers.
- Keep firewood and other such piles away from the home to keep chipmunks from burrowing beneath the pile … then under the home’s foundation.
- To keep chipmunks from burrowing from woodlines to the home, do not allow trees, shrubs, or other plantings to run continuously from wooded areas to the home.
- Do not store any food items, including pet foods and bird seed outdoors unless it is laced in rodent-proof containers.
There are no repellents specifically registered for use against chipmunks, and the use of repellents is somewhat controversial. The Humane Society states that “Commercial repellents that promise to repel squirrels will also repel chipmunks.” However, the Missouri Department of Conservation advises that fumigants and repellents “are not recommended because none are known to be effective.” Squirrel repellents include:
- Thiram applied to plant bulbs, stems or bark.
- Moth balls or flakes (Naphthalene) can be placed around gardens.
- Commercial products containing thiram, bitrex, nicotine sulfate, methyl nonyl ketone crystals and polybutene can be applied to plants that are not to be eaten by humans. Applications may need to be repeated often to counter rains and watering that can be wash them away and to impact new growth.
- A homemade repellent can be made by combining
- 1 tsp of Lysol
- 3 ounces Epsom salt
- 1 gallon water
- Or you can simply select bulbs to which wildlife is not attracted, such as daffodils (Narcissus) or Allium.
Due to the debate over the effectiveness of repellents for chipmunks, trapping is often considered to be the most practical and effective method of getting rid of chipmunks.
- Use wire mesh, box, or rat snap traps.
- Place traps perpendicular to the route the chipmunk follows. For best results, place two traps in the pathway back to back (with the trigger of each facing away from the other).
- Some common baits include peanut butter, nuts, meat, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, cereal grains.
- For the first few days, bait the traps but do not set them to condition the chipmunk to taking the bait. After two or three days bait and set the trap.
- Be sure to place any trap in areas where they will not be contacted by children, pets, or other non-target wildlife. For utmost safety, place the trap into or beneath a small box that has holes only large enough for the chipmunk to enter. To increase attraction, place some bait at the entrance to the box as well as in the trap.
Keeping Chipmunks Out of Bird Feeders
Chipmunks are ground feeders, so they are attracted to the spilled seed of bird feeders. Thus, to keep chipmunks away from bird feeders:
- Regularly clean up spilled seed.
- Choose seed to which chipmunks (and squirrels) are not attracted, such as thistle.
- Place bird feeders at least 15 to 30 feet away from any structure.
- See Keep Squirrels From Stealing Bird Seed from your Feeder.