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Get Rid of Chipmunks

chipmunk removal

Chipmunks are cute and all, but when they destroy $1500 worth of tulips and prize azaleas, it’s time to get rid of chipmunks.

Chipmunk reaching for berries
A chipmunk causing damage to a garden.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

At first I didn’t think it was a very big problem.  They’re cute, and skittishly friendly.  When my grandkids came over, I used to hand them a small baggie full of seed to toss out to the chipmunks, and we’d watch the little animals jump and chatter and play and stuff their cheeks with seeds.  Sometimes I’d look out the window in the evening and see one digging in a flower pot, burying the seed it scored from us earlier that day.  Occasionally, chipmunks would dig a shallow burrow underneath one of our out buildings and have her babies.  We’d approach as closely as we dared, so as not to disturb them, and ooh and coo over the tiny little creatures.  It was sweet, it was cute, it was a bonding moment with nature.

Then, they started to cause damage.  So, now it’s time to figure out how to get rid of chipmunks.

My husband had been so certain that the little holes all over the yard and planting areas were the results of some other creature, like a rabbit or a vole.  He did all kinds of research to figure out how to solve that problem.  But, one day, as I was washing dishes, I smiled as I watched a chipmunk cavorting through our back yard.  It headed towards the area where I’d just planted some special tulip bulbs I’d recently had shipped to me.  Tulips are my favorite flower, and after a recent visit to Holland, I couldn’t resist purchasing bulbs of the more exotic-looking varieties.  I spent an entire Saturday planting those bulbs throughout the yard, and especially in an area right next to my favorite outdoor bench.  I watched as the chipmunk scampered over the lawn, towards the freshly turned dirt, and then disappear.

Curious, I went out to investigate.  To my shock, there were tiny little holes all over the tulip garden area.  As I made my rounds throughout the planting areas and yard, I saw more and more of these holes.  To my shock, as I was watching, a chipmunk popped out of one about four feet in front of me, chattered loudly at me, and ran up a nearby tree.  Bold as you please.

We let it go, and didn’t get rid of the chipmunks that winter.  We figured they needed a warm place to burrow, so we didn’t do anything about it.  The following spring, only a handful of my precious tulips came up, and my prized azaleas died.  Cute or not, it was time to get rid of chipmunks.

Get Rid of Chipmunks

get rid of chipmunks
Gather around, my children, and I will explain to you the mysteries of why so many people fail to get rid of chipmunks.  In a nutshell, we’re too cute.  Humans seem to love tiny furry animals with little paws.  They cannot resist watching us, laughing when we jump and chatter, run and play.  They even seem to love watching us go about our normal, everyday business.  I am here to teach you how to use your cuteness to your full advantage.

            Step One:  Go to a home with older women.  They are more likely to have birdseed available in their yards.  For some reason, they enjoy watching those nasty flying animals eat, I haven’t figured out why.  But, it’s great for us, because the birdseed is absolutely delicious and stores extremely well.

            Step Two:  Only one or two chipmunks should make First Contact with a home.  If too many of us appear the first time, people will sense an invasion, and then they will want to get rid of chipmunks.  Maximize your cuteness factor by sending in one or two of your youngest, most adorable chipmunks, preferably those who have the tiniest paws and can do backflips. 

            Step Three: Don’t allow your First Contact chipmunks to stay too long.  Leave them wanting more.  The humans will actually put out food to try to get us to come back.  They’ve even been known to leave huge buckets full of peanuts out on their porch.

            Step Four:  Now, you can send in up to four chipmunks.  Make sure you play and hype up your antics.  Every now and then, stand still, cheeks stuffed with their offerings, and the humans will ooh and aaaah over you. They may even bring out more food while you are there.

            Step Five:  Do NOT, under any circumstances, let the humans become aware of the holes you are making in their gardens or under their homes.  For some reason, they do not appreciate water damage to their concrete or dead flowers and vegetables in their gardens.  The best way to do this is to assign a few chipmunks to put on a show for the humans, while the rest of you are burrowing. 

            Step Six:  Now that you have moved in and have a ready and constant supply of food and water, provided for you by your human hosts, be vigilant.  Our predators will try to follow us, and if they make themselves aware to the humans, not only will the humans go after our predators, but they will also get rid of chipmunks.  Try not to attract the attentions of snakes, especially, because those things will use our burrows to actually get into the humans’ homes.  Then, it’s bye bye burrow, and you have to start all over again somewhere else.

How to Get Rid of Chipmunks

how to get rid of chipmunks
“Hey, Rookie, how do you get rid of chipmunks?” 

            “What?  Is that a new thing? I don’t remember that being in our reading material.” 

            Allan was still in high school, but was taking some EMT classes and had signed up to do some ride-along shifts with his town’s fire department.  He’d thought he’d get to wear the fire gear, ride the trucks with the other guys, and see a lot of big-time emergencies.  So far, his shifts involved studying a lot, reading through manuals, helping lead school tour groups through the fire station, and being the butt of a lot of jokes.  He liked the guys at the station, but they had waaaay too much time on their hands sometimes. 

            The captain laughed.  “No, chipmunks aren’t covered in the manual, but what would you do about THIS?!”  He opened up a door to one of the sleeping quarters and a little furry body blurred out of the room.  Allan let out a surprised yell and jumped back.  Everyone laughed as Allan realized a chipmunk had somehow gotten into the firehouse and was running around.  The captain threw an empty box at him and told him to catch it.  Allan looked around and realized he wasn’t the only one with an empty box. 

            Some of the guys took a stalking approach, trying to sneak up on the chipmunk anytime it stopped someplace.  A couple of them gave up their pride and leaped and ran after it, laughing and bumping into each other and everything else in their way.  Allan decided on a different approach.  He grabbed a handful of nuts from the kitchen, lay them on the ground in a quiet corner, and waited for the chipmunk to come to him.  Once the other guys realized what he was doing, they stopped running around, quieted down, and waited to see if it would work.  Soon enough, the chipmunk smelled out the food and stopped to investigate just long enough for Allan to drop his empty box over the top of it. 

            He couldn’t hide his grin as he paraded the box outside and let the chipmunk go, to the applause of all the guys on duty at the station.  It was a great moment, even if it wasn’t saving someone from a burning building.  The captain let him have his moment and then ordered, “Okay, everyone, we gotta figure out how it got in the building.  Chipmunks can leave lots of little entry holes so they can get in and out, and other animals like to use those same holes.  I don’t want to step on a snake or mouse in the middle of the night!”

             Allan realized that emergency response teams had to know how to deal with all kinds of emergencies, even if it’s just how to get rid of chipmunks in the firehouse.