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Those Cute Chipmunks Have a Dark Side

By Chris Williams on July 17, 2013.
Do chipmunks attack?

Question

Do chipmunks do any harm? We have one living under our front porch slab. The kids love to watch it, and much to my dismay, they’ve even started feeding it. I have mixed feelings about our new outdoor pet.

Answer

Mixed feelings, perhaps with good reason. Chipmunks are adorable, aren’t they? But they don’t want you to know about their dark side. Let’s start with their minor offenses and work our way up to the big stuff:

  • In New England, maple syrup harvesters don’t like chipmunks because they chew on the collection tubes.
  • Their chirping may wake you up in the morning.
  • Chipmunks raid bird feeders and will probably find and break into your stash of bird seed (or grass seed, or pet food) if it’s stored outside.
  • They can raid and tear up gardens when they dig up flower bulbs, seeds, and seedlings.
  • They can climb, and will pick your fruit right out of the tree.
  • Here’s the biggie. The biggest concern with chipmunks nesting around a building is that their extensive underground burrow system can undermine patio slabs, foundations, concrete steps, stones walls, or sheds, sometimes causing them to collapse.

Anatomy of a Chipmunk’s Burrow

The burrow opening(s) are neat, round holes about 2 inches across. From the opening, the burrow descends to a depth of about 3 feet with a main tunnel that can eventually be 20 to 30 feet long. Burrow systems can be huge with a nesting chamber, food storage chambers, and separate escape tunnels. The burrow system gets more extensive as time goes on. The amount of soil that the chipmunk removes from under your porch to create this burrow system can undermine the slab, causing it to crack or collapse. The only good news is that chipmunks are solitary so you should only be dealing with one male, or a mother and her young.

Now, you have to decide whether you want to encourage that cute chipmunk, try to get it to move on, or trap it and remove it. At Colonial, we are licensed and certified to conduct humane removal of nuisance wildlife. Give us a call.

Photo credit: Vicki’s Nature / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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