“Chipmunk spotting” out of our front window has been an enjoyable pastime for my kids for quite a while now. I admit that I, too, have found it amusing to watch the cute little critters and their tiny little babies pop out of a hole right in front of me and scamper off. However cute they may be, though, we have learned the hard way that these cute little critters can cause some serious damage to your yard. Holes, holes everywhere! How can you stop chipmunks digging holes in your yard?
We’re going to look at a few different things you can try. Chipmunks are very persistent; they keep coming back, and they keep re-digging your filled in holes. And so while you may find that it seems like rather hopeless a task, the truth is that with a little work on your end, the holes will stop appearing, the critter family will move on somewhere else, and hopefully you’ll go back to thinking that chipmunks are just cute and harmless little rodents again.
What Harm Do Chipmunks Do To Your Yard?
Chipmunks are tunneling rodents. They live in these tunnels, hibernate, store their food, and raise their babies there. They typically build summer tunnels which are more shallow, and winter tunnels which are deeper. These tunnels grow more and more complex over time, and based on the number of chipmunks dwelling in them.
Eventually their tunnel systems will make your yard rather hollow and can adversely affect the structure of the buildings, porches and patios on your yard. The tunnels can also run right up against the walls of your home, and you can end up with critters in your walls as well. And no one wants that.
Because of the complexity of their tunnels, filling up a solitary hole that you find is futile. It does nothing but cause them a little work as they simply dig it out or exit at another hole and re-dig beside your blocked off spot. Likely you already knew this though – the first thing we tend to try is filling up and blocking off the hole we see, and then grow frustrated when it’s back again a few hours later.
So, what can you do? What works to stop chipmunks from digging holes in your yard?
“Stink” Them Out
Chipmunks rely heavily on their noses both to find food and to sniff out danger. Watch them for any length of time and you’ll see how they stop every several feet for a quick sniff of the air around them.
So, we can use this! If we want to remove the chipmunks from our yards humanely, using scents that chipmunks hate is a great way to go.
So, what smells do chipmunks hate? What will make them and their progeny relocate to another yard or field?
There are very few “repellants” that are especially made for chipmunks. But as they are part of the larger squirrel family, if you want to go the commercial repellant route, you can look for “anti-squirrel” sprays on the shelves of your local home and garden supply store or even place some mothballs around your yard – this scent is known to repel squirrels and thus is very likely to “stink out” your chipmunks.
You can also mix together a natural spray using a combination of the following oils (whichever you have on hand), all of which chipmunks are known to detest:
Animal urine (think dogs and cats) are also deterrents to chipmunk holes, believe it or not. Again, the scent makes the chipmunks think they are in danger of being chased down by larger animals than them. You don’t see chipmunks crossing paths with the neighborhood dogs, do you? Allow your friends with pets to come and bring Fido along… and let him run free a few days in a row, and see what happens!
“Scare” Them Out
Chipmunks are sort of like mice in a sense – they are small and quite helpless. They also have an innate understanding that they are prey to larger animals and birds. If you want to stop chipmunks from tunneling in your yard, you can cause them to think that there’s a danger to them if they continue to stay local.
One way to do this is to purchase and display one of those plastic owls near where the holes are appearing. If your chipmunks are gullible chipmunks like many are, then they will assume they are being hunted and decide to move on.
Set Chipmunk Traps
If you are pretty discouraged and have tried to stink them out and scare them out but neither worked, or if you really just need them gone NOW, setting a trap is definitely one way you can go. There are different kinds of traps available, all of which can be labelled either “humane” and “lethal”.
The more humane chipmunk traps require you to check it regularly, and transport any live chipmunks (who fell for the bait you set and caused the spring-loaded door to close behind them and trap them in a small box) to another location before releasing it. This is often a preferred method, but honestly, unless you drive them quite a ways away, you may just find them returning faster than you’d believe possible. Also, do NOT forget to check your traps.
More “lethal” traps do what you’d guess to be the case – they end any possibility of the chipmunk returning to your yard, much like an old fashioned mouse trap will stop a mouse.
Prepare Your Property Properly
If you have a problem with chipmunks digging holes in your yard, you can actually do a few more structural things to prevent (further) damage to your property from occurring. Surround your yard, deck or home with a foot-wide gravel border to prevent burrowing from happening too close to your structure. Keep any piles of wood or leaf debris away from the sides of your buildings, as these are favorite places for these critters to dig.
Remember that chipmunks like to eat bird seed. While I don’t think you’ll find chipmunks climbing up poles and doing acrobatics to get at the bird feeder like a squirrel might, chipmunks being the ground feeders that they are, will happily use any spilled bird seed as food for themselves, and return regularly to that spot for more. So, clean up spilled bird seed, but also, if possible, choose bird seed that squirrels (and thus chipmunks) aren’t attracted to (like thistle, for example).
How Will You Stop Chipmunks Digging Holes In Your Yard?
What will you try first? What have you tried… with success or no success? Feel free to comment below and we can work together to solve this problem so you can get a great outdoor space again. Because it’s not easy, is it?
Chipmunks are energetic, smart, and fast. You may end up fighting this battle longer and harder than you’d want, but stopping chipmunks from digging in your yard IS possible. It may end up being a combination of a few ideas, or you may end up calling in a professional exterminator… but if you’re serious about getting a tunnel-free backyard back, it CAN be done. What will you try?