Oh, they’re cute alright – those chipmunks chattering and cavorting around your yard. But their antics can also cause damage, especially when they get their little teeth into your bulbs, seedlings or homegrown fruits.
Here are a few ideas for getting the tiny pests out of your plantings, without doing them any harm:
1. Get Rid of Chipmunks’ Habitat
Chipmunks live in burrows in protected areas near the forest’s edge and their food sources. Keep wood and brush piles away from your garden or anywhere else you don’t want chipmunks. Watch out for low shrubs or rockpiles, anywhere a chipmunk might hide its underground home. And try to have some open space between wooded areas and your garden beds. Also, remember, wherever there are bird feeders, there are spilled seeds, and wherever there are spilled seeds, there are chipmunks.
2. Stop Chipmunks from Digging in the Garden
Use a 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth buried two feet below your flower beds. For bulbs, build a box of chicken wire about eight inches tall and dig a hole for it in your garden. Place the bulbs in the bottom of the hole, backfill with soil and compost, then apply a layer of mulch.
3. Trap Chipmunks and Take Them Away
Buy humane wild animal traps at garden centers and online cheaply. Bait the trap with nuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds or raisins. Don’t arm the trap for several days, until you know the chipmunk is coming to feed regularly. After arming it, check the trap often and be prepared to catch other hungry critters. Transport the chipmunks to another part of your own property (the transport of wild animals off your property is illegal in many states). Always be careful when releasing any wild animal from the trap.
4. Deter Chipmunks with Non-toxic Repellants
Chipmunks do not like the smell of ammonia, soap, or castor oil. Spraying a liquid version of any of these in the area out of which you wish to keep the critters is one option. Or used crushed garlic, chopped hot peppers, or a combination steeped in a cup of hot, soapy water. Strain the mixture and spray it on the plants the chipmunks are damaging.
One more idea: If you design a dog-friendly garden, you’ll find the chipmunks moving out about the time your pets move in – a win-win!