These cute little creatures are actually rodents. They can be identified by their bushy tails, stubby legs, and the very noticeable white, black and brown stripes that run down their backs. As the smallest member of the squirrel family, the largest type of chipmunk is the Eastern chipmunk which grows to be around 11 inches long and can weigh up to 4.4 ounces. Chipmunks make homes for themselves by digging burrows that are made up of underground tunnel systems that can be up to 30 feet long, or by making nests in logs or bushes. Although they rarely get into homes, they will cause damage if they do and, even if they don't get inside, they can become an issue if they become too numerous on your property.
HOW DO I KNOW IF CHIPMUNKS HAVE GOTTEN INTO MY ATTIC?
If you are hearing scratching, scampering, thumping noises coming from your attic or wall voids in the nighttime hours, chances are you have mice, rats or flying squirrels. But if you are hearing those noises in the daytime, especially in the morning or late afternoon, you may have a chipmunk.
ARE CHIPMUNKS DANGEROUS?
Though these adorable little critters will simply run away if you approach them outside, they can bite or scratch to defend themselves if you corner them inside your home, or handle them directly.
CAN MY HOUSE BE DAMAGED BY CHIPMUNKS?
As rodents, chipmunks will chew on items such as insulation, sheetrock, stored items, wood and even wires (which can be a fire hazard). They leave urine and feces everywhere they go and can carry parasites into a home such as lice, mites, ticks, fleas or worms. If they squeezed in through a hole in your walls or roof area, they can chew that hole larger, or chew new holes to come and go. This will not only damage your home, but also damage your wallet as heat will escape out into the cold.
WHAT DO CHIPMUNKS EAT AND DRINK?
Chipmunks are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals. A chipmunk's diet consists primarily of seeds, nuts, fruits and buds, but they also commonly eat shoots, grass, fungi, insects, small frogs, worms, and birds' eggs. If chipmunks get into your garden they can feed on cultivated grains and vegetables.
HOW OFTEN DO CHIPMUNKS REPRODUCE?
Eastern chipmunks reproduce twice a year, after mating in early spring and early summer. They typically have litters of 4 or 5 young in each litter. Western chipmunks breed only once a year. The young chipmunks will stay inside the burrow for about six weeks before striking out on their own.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHIPMUNKS?
Some interesting facts:
Chipmunks boast a distinct and unique way of communicating with each other, often making bird-like noises. They also utilize many different gestures to each other which can be fun to watch.
Chipmunks are loners. They like to keep to themselves and typically only interact with each other during the spring, which is their mating season.
A chipmunk's cheeks can expand to three times the size of its head. They have pouches where they hold their food until they can store it.
A single chipmunk can store up to 8 pounds of food in its burrow!
Sometimes chipmunks become pests to humans if they get into gardens, chew on wooden structures, or tunnel under buildings.
A chipmunk can tunnel underneath a garden fence if it isn't placed far enough underground.
Chipmunks, like other rodents and wildlife, can get into trash cans and make a mess. They will also be drawn in by bird feeders close to a home.
Although these are adorable little critters and can be fun to watch, they can become so numerous in your yard that they become pests. They are known to dig up newly planted bulbs, disturb cultivated fruits, seeds or stones, and can generally just make a mess.
If you need help controlling chipmunks in or around your home, Adam's licensed Pest Management Professionals will be happy to help.