How to Get Rid of Chipmunks
A guide to chipmunk traps, repellent & other infestation control solutions
Chipmunks are closely related to ground squirrels, with fifteen different species distributed in North America. The two most common species with the widest distribution are the eastern chipmunks and the least chipmunks. They are often confused with thirteen-lined ground squirrels (striped gophers) and red squirrels. Chipmunks spend a considerable amount of their time on the ground in burrows instead of red squirrels, which will mostly be found in trees.
Chipmunk Burrows and Damage
Their burrows are hidden near woodpiles, stumps, brush piles, basements, and garages. Their burrows are typically about 20-30 feet in length that usually includes food storage and nesting areas. They have escape tunnels and side pockets connected to their main shafts. These burrows may be hard to detect because there is no obvious mound of dirt around the entry points. The chipmunk will carry the excavated dirt in here cheek pouch and scatter it away from the burrow to hide the entrance from predators. Chipmunks can be a pest because they can cause damage due to their burrowing activities. They can cause structural damage to decks, patios, foundational walls, retention walls, and slabs. Chipmunks can also carry fleas to and from your yard.
Unfortunately, there are no poison baits for chipmunk control. Sometimes people use gasser products like Giant Destroyer or Revenge Smoke Bombs placed in the burrows. They are still not labeled for chipmunks and often make the chipmunks scatter due to the sulfur smell. Do not use these gas cartridges near and under buildings.
As a second choice (and not a great one), you can try using rat-sized traps such as the Trapper T Rex Rat Snap Traps or Live Cage Traps. Snap traps do not work as well as live cage traps. But even live cage traps do not work all the time for chipmunk control. Unfortunately, without a bait labeled for chipmunks, trapping or using gasser products are the only current solutions.
Chipmunks are most active on warm and sunny days in the spring and less active during rainy or cool days; trap on warm and sunny days. Since chipmunks are active during the day, check the traps at noon and just before dusk. It may take several weeks of intensive trapping to eliminate the population.
Live traps and snap traps baited with peanut butter and sunflower seeds have been very effective at catching chipmunks.
Place the live traps along the pathways where you have seen the chipmunks. Use such baits as peanut butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, fruits, and cereal grains. It may help to prebait the trap for a couple of days by wiring the trap doors open to condition the chipmunk to the new object in its environment.
Work the traps into the ground to provide similar footing on the ground. If you are using a live trap, and want to release the chipmunk, be careful of handling the trap to avoid bites or euthanize them according to local regulations.
If you are using a snap trap, keep the trap away from children, pets, or other wildlife. Peanut butter is an excellent bait. You can prebait a trap by placing the bait on the trigger without setting the trigger to condition the new object's chipmunk.
Set the snap traps perpendicular to the pathway or in pairs (with triggers facing away from each other) along the travel paths. Make sure the trigger on the snap trap is sensitive and easily sprung. Conceal the snap traps by setting them against structures with boards placed over them, hiding them.
Exclusion and Elimination Tips
- If you have bird feeders, you may want to place them further away from your home. The birdseed will attract chipmunks.
- Clean up any fallen fruit, berries, or nuts.
- Minimize debris and woodpiles around your home. These areas are natural habitats for chipmunks. Ground cover, shrubs, and trees should not be planted in a continuous fashion connecting wooded areas with homes' foundations. They provide protection and encourage the chipmunks to form burrows next to buildings.
- If they have entered your home for shelter or nesting, you can place hardware cloths or copper mesh to close possible entry points.
There are several exclusion products that we recommend. Use a copper mesh wool or Xcluder Fill Fabric to stuff into holes and bigger openings. For smaller openings, use Foams in an aerosol form such as Pur Black NF Foam. It fills and seals voids.
They feed on birdseed, seeds, seedlings, berries, nuts, mushrooms, and flower bulbs. Chipmunks are very active in the late afternoon or early mornings. They never enter a deep hibernation but depend upon the cache of food stored in their burrows. They can become active on warm and sunny days during the winter months.
The Eastern Chipmunk is 5-6 inches long with two tan and five black longitudinal stripes on its side of its face. Its tail is long (3-4 inches) but is not bushy. The striped lines stop at the base of the tail.
The eastern chipmunk is found mostly on the east half of the United States (except Florida, southern Georgia, and most of the Carolinas).
The Least chipmunk only weighs 1-2 ounces and is smaller than the eastern chipmunk. This chipmunk is about 3-4 inches long. It had various colors from yellow-gray and brown stripes to gray-brown with black stripes. Its stripes continue down the length of the tail.
The least chipmunk is found in the upper Midwest, the Rocky Mountains, and Canada.
Written by our resident pest control expert Ken Martin.