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Chipmunks, A Small Problem?

June 4th, 2009

The eastern chipmunk is the same size as the ground squirrel, but is found in more woodland or woodland edge habitat and has only two light stripes. Absent only from the northwest corner of Iowa, they inhabit neighborhoods with mature trees and shrubs, rock and wood piles and retaining walls. While they may live in holes dug in the ground, they are more likely to live in the retaining walls, beneath decks or even in holes in trees. They do not hibernate in the winter and, though they sleep for days at a time, can be seen raiding bird feeders on warm winter days.
I’ve got a big problem, chipmunks, or grinnies as some people call them. They’re cute as can be really, but destructive little rodents for sure. They have been digging up my seedlings on the back deck and eating the seeds that I plant (although the ones that ate my castor beans seeds are taken care of).
We used to have a pair of owls that kept the population under control, but I haven’t seen them this year. Aside from getting a pet falcon, I’m looking into easy ways to deal with my overpopulation of chipmunks. I’d love to get rid of them without letting my cats outside (I don’t want them to get worms or eat birds). I really hate to kill them, however they’re starting to dig holes around the foundation of our home. I’d rather not deal with drainage issues from that, so it’s time to wage war on the grinnies. I’ve heard good things about chipmunk swimming pools, anyone tried them?

Anyone have any great tips on getting rid of chipmunks?

13 Comments to “Chipmunks, A Small Problem?”
  1. Sherri on June 4, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Oh chipmunks…how I can relate. Check out my blog…we resorted to buying that plastic black netting that has VERY small holes to keep them out. Had to do that once I realized they were all getting through the poultry netting no problem and eating every ripe berry in sight. This year they also did a number on my corn seeds. No real advice on totally getting rid of though…I’d hate to kill also, but when they start to cause real damage, not sure how else to handle. Luckily we don’t have them digging holes near the house (or at least, as far as we know). They do live under our deck and in our woodpile, so ?? The dogs sure would love to get a hold of one though! It’s daily entertainment for them (chasing them that is!)

    Sherri’s last blog post.. garden update

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  2. marcyincny on June 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Now that the youngsters are out and about I’m setting two Havahart® traps the mornings I go to the park. It’s illegal here but they do so much damage, particularly to the tomatoes, and I can’t realistically protect them any other way. I have noticed that I when I relocate a bunch of them the numbers are down the next year so there’s that at least.

    This morning though I’m more concerned about another critter in my attic. On my last trip up there yesterday evening I disturbed something that ended up near the bottom of the stairs. At first I thought it was a bat but in the poor light I finally made out a tail and I think it’s a young red squirrel. I was alone, it was late and I was tired so I just tossed an old sheet over whatever it was and closed the door. I still haven’t worked up the courage to look this morning…

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  3. warren on June 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

    It may be myth, but I thought it used to be against some federal law to kill them…maybe that was just my mom keeping us from shooting them though. Anyhow, that’s the only way I know to get rid of them…

    warren’s last blog post.. Original Gangsters

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  4. Daphne on June 4, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I deal with chipmunks in two ways. If they aren’t too numerous I just put bird netting around things that they are going after (like my tomatoes). They hate the netting because their feet get tangled in it.

    If they are really numerous, I kill them. I hate to do it, so rarely resort to this. They are the same size as rats. I use rat traps to get them. I put them in my garden and bait it with whatever they are eating at the time (like tomatoes). I would probably avoid things like bird seed since you don’t want the birds to go after the traps.

    Daphne’s last blog post.. Weeding

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  5. Jennifer on June 4, 2009 at 11:00 am

    We used a mole/vole castor oil deterrent repeatedly at our plot, and haven’t seen the chipmunk since near us – I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or if they don’t like castor oil either, might be something to look into? We did have to apply it several times and wet it in – but no more holes and no more disappearing seedlings. We never saw a vole or a mole, but our neighbor saw a chipmunk in our garden. Who knows what we had. :)

    Jennifer’s last blog post.. Hummingbird at the gardens

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    • Susy on June 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

      I have started a few castor plants to plant around the gardens to deter moles, perhaps they’ll work for chipmunks as well. I also have a plant called the mole plants (bought it from Richter’s herbs) and I’m going to plant some around the edible beds in the back.

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  6. s on June 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I live trap them too, and relocate. I’ve found we have bumper years where there are just too many, and our local predators just can’t keep up! :)

    So far this year does not seem to bad, though my adolescent pup may be helping out (no fatalities yet, just a lot of harrassment, ha ha.)

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  7. Allie on June 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    We don’t have chipmunks here, but we do have bunnies. Last year, I sprayed the plants with cheap hot pepper sauce mixed in water. I only had to do it for about a week, and the bunnies learned that my plants don’t taste good. Maybe it would work for chipmunks?

    Allie’s last blog post.. Eco-Legislation Matters

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  8. Helen at Toronto Gardens on June 4, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    What a dilemma. The cute-factor is similar with the raccoon situation here in Toronto, aka Raccoon City; a dirty problem (especially when they choose one area as their neighbourhood latrine) with a pretty face.

    On the surface, the “swimming pool” idea sounds gentle but the snap-traps might actually be more humane; quick and efficient. Live traps would require you to burn fuel to drive them, probably one by one, to their far-off new homes.

    Helen at Toronto Gardens’s last blog post.. Warning: The dreaded Ailanthus altissima

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  9. Judy on June 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    I don’t have any good advice for you. We’ve got them. They were really cute when they moved in two years ago. And last year they weren’t bad. Now they’re digging holes around our brick patio and driving the dog to distraction. But since we’re moving soon, I’m going to let the new owners worry about them when we sell the house.

    Judy’s last blog post.. Sheetrock and babbling

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  10. Andee on June 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Of all the pests that gardeners must face, I think chipmunks are one of the worst. We consider them to be little rats with good PR. And when plants are your precious food (for stomach and soul), you must choose. Life is always about balance. When the gang of bluejays attacked the nesting orioles, we took direct aim at their bullying, literally. Now they keep their distance. And, year by year, we watched the number of nesting songbirds grow. We didn’t like becoming killers but we believe the biodiversity that now thrives in our backyard was worth it.

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    • Maurice on June 27, 2009 at 10:17 am

      Andee , I like that and I agree. I would do the same. Why is it the whole natural world can have it out but we have to sit and watch lol. For a pair of nesting orioles I would have acted also. We had a beautiful Sharp Shinned Hawk that was attacked and killed by a pair of very territorial Crows that claim our yard as their territory but they were just a bit much to handle. I love Nature but for the subject species ; chipmunks and Squirrels sorry, I have lost all my compassion for these rodents. I like to feed birds and went into it heavy this year so consequently I have a bumper crop of the Chipmunks this year. I laughed for 5 minutes when I read your “rodents with good PR ” line. Thanks for that.

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  11. Should I Change the Name? | Chiot's Run on January 20, 2010 at 4:46 am

    […] one of the neighbor’s cats. We’d always hoped for a feral cat to move in since we have quite a chipmunk problem. Recently we’ve been seeing more and more cats around. If you remember, last year, Dexter showed […]

    Reply to Should I Change the Name? | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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