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What Damages Can Chipmunks Cause?

Updated on May 21, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia has years of experience with gardening and wild pests in New Hampshire and other locales.

One Chipmunk Or Are There More?

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When you first see a chipmunk, you think "what a cutie." Over time, it's no longer cute as it eats all your spring bulbs, scratches inside the walls at night, digs tunnels that undermine your deck, and chews through the wiring on your car.

Sadly, that chipmunk has become a pest. It's likely that when you see one of the little critters there is also a whole family or even several families. Last summer, we captured 35 of them over several months.

How bad can it be? Below, I share some scary stories from people who visited my chipmunk trap comparison page. Somehow, I ended up as the chipmunk expert and I must admit I've spent years studying the little creatures and so people come to me for answers to their chipmunk problems.

Trouble with Chipmunks in the Yard

Undermining Landscape Structures

Kyle - "The little diggers are burrowing under my stone staircase that cost $10,000. The stone is sinking due to the burrow holes. I LOVE animals and do not want to harm them. I do, however, want these little guys to move out & fast!!!!!"

Eating the Plants

Nancy - "Chipmunks have been tearing up my strawberry-type pot of hen-and-chicks plants. Digging in the holes, chewing the leaves, scattering the plants. Last year, they beat me to at least 1/3 of my ripe tomatoes."

Chipmunk Nest Inside the BBQ Grill

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Oh No, Chipmunks in the House!

Chipmunks in the Basement

Valerie - "My three-year-old washing machine began to leak because a chipmunk chewed a hole in the water intake hose. The washer is in the basement. I must have a hole somewhere just above the foundation leading to the outside. I have two cats that are not allowed into the basement so I guess the chipmunk feels pretty safe as long as he doesn't go into the first-floor living area. Has anyone else had a similar problem? If so, what did you do to expel the chipmunk?" (quick answer: I suggest you get a Havahart trap to capture the chipmunks. Try to block the openings where they are getting in too.)

Chipmunks in the Walls

James C. - "I have them inside my walls. The trap works great with peanut butter, works every time. The problem is there are so many as soon as we set it we catch one. My question is are they like cockroaches and rats, where there's one, there's a million? As much as I hate to say it I might have to go the less humane way. They're cute but I'm over it." (Tips to solve this chipmunk infestation: Try to find gaps in your house where they are getting in and seal those up. If you transport the chipmunk away, make sure it is far enough that it doesn't come back. They have a strong instinct to return to where they have stored food for the winter. Keep using the trap since it is working well for you.)

Chipmunk Eating a Strawberry From My Garden

Source

Chipmunks And Automobiles

Sam - "One chipmunk was getting into the engine of my girlfriend's car and our dogs scraped the hell out of the bumper to try to get to it. If that wasn't bad enough, it dropped an acorn on top of the transmission and chewed through the wiring harness to get to it rendering the car undrivable. Lucky for us, I was able to repair the harness after four hours of removing most of the air infiltration system to reach it. Now it has been in my Range Rover...time for the chipmunks to disappear!"

What Works to Solve Your Chipmunk Problem? The Havahart Trap!

Havahart 1025 Small 2-Door Live Animal Trap - Ideal for catching Squirrels, Chipmunks, Rats, Weasels (Pack of 2)
Havahart 1025 Small 2-Door Live Animal Trap - Ideal for catching Squirrels, Chipmunks, Rats, Weasels (Pack of 2)

I've tried the one-door Havahart but feel the double doors work best in the way they snap down quickly. I've also used the Chipmunkinator but find a few animals can't figure out how to get in.

This is fairly fool-proof. You put peanut butter on the lever in the middle of the cage. Place the trap in the area where chipmunks have been sighted. Raise the 2 doors using the long lever and balance that lever under the trigger lever that's connected to where the peanut butter is.

As the rodent enters the cage and samples the peanut butter, they tip the big lever inside the cage, making the 2 outside levers release. That causes the doors to close.

Next, you transport the animal far away or else drown it (cage and all) in some water like in a wheelbarrow or an outdoor sink.

 

Further Tips on Dealing with Chipmunk Problems

  • Chipmunks have a strong homing instinct and want to get back to the food they've been stockpiling.
  • If you choose to take it in the Havahart trap, be sure to go far enough that it won't come back the next day. Put a barrier like a major highway or a river between the released rodent and your home.
  • The bait in the trap doesn't have to be peanut butter. They like sunflower seeds too. The peanut butter has the advantage of staying on the lever.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Virginia Allain

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    • punacoast profile image

      Viet Doan 

      3 weeks ago from Big Island, Hawaii

      I used to live in northern MI and had a lot of chipmunks around the yard. They would empty out my bird feeders in no time and dig into the newly planted flower pots on my patio, making a huge mess! Nasty little critters!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      4 weeks ago from the short journey

      Anthropomorphizing these animals has led to all out wars in neighborhoods! Those who relate them to the talking cartoon characters believe they should be allowed to proliferate until they get a little experience with the damage they do to every kind of property they can get in to. Fences, outbuildings, vehicles, garages, homes...nothing is safe when they are around. On top of that, they carry fleas and ticks that spread diseases, some of which we know are on the rise. It is a good thing to take a realistic, straightforward look at chipmunks.

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      5 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Liz - Well, the chipmunks are a lot cuter than a rat but aside from their charming appearance, some of their behavior is natural for a rodent.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 weeks ago from UK

      I sympathise with you. In the UK we don't have chipmunks. The nearest we come to them is watching Alvin and the chipmunks on TV. But we do have plenty of other rodents. Friends of ours had a rat take up residence in the engine of their car.

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