What You Need To Know About Chipmunks

September 13, 2021

While often cute and entertaining, Chipmunks can be very destructive and damaging to gardens, landscaping, and your home. Chipmunks appear almost year-round and are a challenge to home gardeners. Let’s look at chipmunks and see how you can prevent them from damaging your home and garden.

What are chipmunks?

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The Eastern Chipmunk is most common in our area of New York State. Chipmunks are just under a foot in length, including the tail of 3 to 5 inches. They are tiny and weigh in at about two to five ounces. Their coloring is unique, with rusty red to brown fur on their body and two pale and five dark stripes on their back.

Chipmunks are born after one month of gestation, and their lifespan is about three years. They live predominately in their burrows until breeding seasons in fall/early winter and summer.

Can chipmunks damage your home’s foundation?

Chipmunks are burrowing animals. They dig tunnels that are not particularly wide but in great numbers can weaken the structural integrity of a deck, shed, or foundation.

Dormant or old burrows are not filled in, so colonies of chipmunks can take them over and continue to burrow new tunnels in addition to these existing tunnels. Tunnels also present an opportunity for running water and water damage and a home for other pests and nuisance wildlife.

What other damage can chipmunks cause?

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Structural damage. Not all structural damage is catastrophic to sidewalks, stairs, sheds, and foundations. However, over time, continuous activity will weaken the support for these structures. In addition, fire or other damage can occur if they get into your attic or basement and chew wires like their ‘cousin’ the squirrel.

Garden and landscape damage. Chipmunks dig up and eat bulbs and enjoy fruits and young plants. They are first in line at the bird feeder and will eat your pet food if left unattended outside or in a bag in the garage.

Are chipmunks a health risk to my family and pets?

According to pests.org,

When bitten by or hosting an infected flea or tick, the chipmunk becomes a carrier of disease. These illnesses include:

  • Colorado Tick Fever: Similar to the flu and fairly mild in humans.
  • Plague: May result in flu-like symptoms or lead to pneumonia. A doctor’s care is required.
  • Rabies: As a potentially fatal virus to all mammals, rabies strikes the nervous system – though symptoms might not occur for weeks.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Known for flu-like reactions and a skin rash that may spread across the body.

The greatest concern comes from a chipmunk’s bite, as its saliva can transfer disease. Any bitten area of skin should be checked by a doctor, and treatment will likely be needed.

Chipmunks will not attack humans or your pets, but they do carry diseases like plague and fleas, as well as ticks, lice, and mites. Do not attempt to remove a chipmunk on your own or pick up a dead chipmunk with bare hands. It is best to seek professional help from a licensed pest control service.

How do I prevent chipmunks from damaging my home and yard?

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It seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? However, Chipmunks are small and agile wildlife, and it does not seem possible to keep them out of your yard, mainly since they burrow!

  • Build a fence along with traps or stations. The fence alone will not keep them out. They can go over it and under it too.
  • Keep your yard clean from debris. Do not leave piles of wood and clippings
  • Do not put out the welcome mat: Place bird feeders away from your home, keep your garage door closed, and store birdseed and pet food in plastic or metal containers.

Protect your home with AccuShield

Since 2004, Accurate Pest Control and Nuisance Wildlife have been working with and protecting homes and businesses in and around the Capital Region. We know that it may take more than a seasonal treatment or an emergency pest removal to keep a structure healthy and free from pests and nuisance wildlife.

Protect your home or business with AccuShield. The Accurate Pest Control experts will evaluate the structure and locate areas where pests and nuisance wildlife can enter. Then, a complete evaluation is performed and reviewed with the homeowner or business owner, and a course of action is determined. Contact us to schedule a free home inspection.

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