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Damage and Damage Identification
Throughout their North American range, chipmunks are considered minor agricultural pests. Most conflicts with chipmunks are nuisance problems. When chipmunks are present in large numbers they can cause structural damage by burrowing under patios, stairs, retention walls, or foundations. They may also consume flower bulbs, seeds, or seedlings, as well as bird seed, grass seed, and pet food that is not stored in rodent-proof storage containers. In New England, chipmunks and tree squirrels cause considerable damage to maple sugar tubing systems by gnawing the tubes.
Chipmunk Removal and Control Methods
Chipmunk removal is easily accomplished by trapping. Live trap model 50063 is the most common live trap used for chipmunk removal. Squirrel jelly bait and squirrel trail mix work well for chipmunk removal when trapping. For best results put the squirrel jelly bait on a piece of bread fold over and place behind treadle. Then dribble squirrel trail mix out of the door of the trap. Most of the kill type traps for chipmunks are too large for chipmunk removal; however victor rat snap traps can work satisfactorily.
Please note: There are no poisons on the market labeled for chipmunks
Habitat and General Biology
Eastern Chipmunks typically inhabit mature woodlands and woodlot edges, but they also inhabit areas in and around suburban and rural homes. Chipmunks are generally solitary except during courtship or when rearing young.
The least chipmunk inhabits low sagebrush deserts, high mountain coniferous forests, and northern mixed hardwood forests.
The home range of a chipmunk may be up to 1/2 acre (0.2 ha), but the adult only defends a territory about 50 feet (15.2 m) around the burrow entrance. Chipmunks are most active during the early morning and late afternoon.
Chipmunk burrows often are well-hidden near objects or buildings (for example, stumps, wood piles or brush piles, basements, or garages). The burrow entrance is usually about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. There are no obvious mounds of dirt around the entrance because the chipmunk carries the dirt in its cheek pouches and scatters it around the borrow, making the burrow entrance less conspicuous.
In most cases, the chipmunk’s main tunnel is 20 to 30 feet (6 m to 9 m) in length, but complex burrow systems occur where cover is sparse. Burrow systems normally include a nesting chamber, one or two food storage chambers, various side pockets connected to the main tunnel, and separate escape tunnels.
With the onset of cold weather, chipmunks enter a restless hibernation and are relatively inactive from late fall through the winter months. Chipmunks do not enter a deep hibernation as do ground squirrels, but rely on the cache of food they have brought to their burrow. Some individuals become active on warm, sunny days during the winter. Most chipmunks emerge from hibernation in early March.
Eastern chipmunks mate two times a year, early spring and again during the summer or early fall. There is a 31-day gestation period. Two to 5 young are born in April to May and again in August to October. The young are sexually mature within 1 year. Adults may live up to 3 years.
Adult least chipmunks mate over a period of 4 to 6 weeks from April to mid-July. Least chipmunks produce 1 litter of 2 to 7 young in May and June. Occasionally a second litter is produced in the fall.
Chipmunk pups appear above ground when they are 4 to 6 weeks old--2/3 the size of an adult. Young will leave the burrow at 6 to 8 weeks.
Population densities of chipmunks are typically 2 to 4 animals per acre (5 to 10 ha). Eastern chipmunk population densities may be as high as 10 animals per acre (24/ha), however, if sufficient food and cover are available. Home ranges often overlap among individuals.
In some parts of the country it is common for chipmunks to enter buildings around the foundation and occasionally the attic. They can often be heard running across the basement ceiling. The best way to solve chipmunk problems is to first trap and remove the chipmunks, and then to seal up the entry holes.