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THE SECRET, UNDERGROUND WORLD OF THE CHIPMUNK

By Chris Williams on July 5, 2017.

We live in Barrington, New Hampshire, do you know if we have chipmunks in this area? We have a section of an old stonewall in a back corner of our property and we had noticed a couple of holes along the base, then my wife saw what seemed to be a chipmunk there. We’ve never had chipmunks before so this is a first. J. H., Barrington, NH

Yes, we certainly do have the eastern chipmunk everywhere in the Northeast. Chipmunks will adapt to a variety of habitats – yards, gardens, campgrounds, parks, urban lots – but are usually found in areas with at least a few mature trees. According to the training manual, Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators:  “Chipmunks often burrow under old stonewalls bordering pastures or woods; under piles of brush, rocks, or garbage; among a tree’s roots, or near buildings. The only places you’re not likely to find them are marshy areas with very dense undergrowth.”

CHIPMUNK BURROWING CAN CAUSE STRUCTURAL DAMAGE

If you only have chipmunks burrowing around your stonewall, consider yourself lucky. When chipmunks are found around homes, these little darlings seem to be very fond of burrowing under porches, patios, and foundations. You’d be amazed at how much damage they can cause with their extensive nest burrows. The unassuming burrow entrance is a simple, round hole, less than 2 inches in diameter but it leads to a main tunnel which is 3 feet deep and can be more than 20 feet long. In addition, connected to the main tunnel there may be a nesting chamber, one or two food storage chambers, various side pockets, and separate escape tunnels.

Imagine all of this excavated space underneath your patio! To make matters worse, a chipmunk can add to its burrow system each year. Eventually the system can be 30 feet long with several openings. The chipmunk methodically carries all of that dirt out of the burrow in its cheek pouches and distributes it elsewhere.

DON’T LET “CUTE” FOOL YOU!

Besides their destructive burrowing, chipmunks dig up garden seeds, steal flower bulbs, and will eat berries and fruit. They raid bird feeders and pet bowls. Bird feeders are probably the main reason that people have burrowing chipmunks around their homes. And yes, they’re cute and infinitely entertaining which is why people put up with more than they should from chipmunks.

If you’ve allowed a chipmunk to move in around your home’s foundation, just picture that extensive burrow system under your porch and all the dirt that is no longer there. Then picture the unsupported slab cracking or collapsing! Now picture yourself calling Colonial Pest. We have experts who do nuisance wildlife removal and we are well acquainted with the ways of the eastern chipmunk.

For more on the eastern chipmunk:

Photo Credit : Gilles Gonthier

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