War With The Chipmunks

My house is at war with chipmunks. I have been at war for years, and will probably be at war for many years to come. Chipmunks vex me terribly, and they are winning the war. Here is a picture I took of the enemy, standing right outside my back door.


When I first moved in this house and discovered the chipmunks, I thought they were cute. But the little varmints ravage my garden, destroying my tomato and pepper plants. My garden is up on an elevated deck, the chipmunks climb up the stairs and get into the plants and take one bite out of each of the best fruits. Damn those varmints!

My cat discovered the chipmunks and became obsessed with catching them. But chipmunks are extremely quick, they are almost impossible to catch unless you corner them. Kitty discovered you could corner the chipmunks once they got up on my deck if she blocked off the stairway. I think she liked cornering them and toying and tormenting them, but she never actually caught any of them. I cornered them a few times myself. They behave quite strangely when cornered, they will freeze as long as there is something between you and them, but if exposed, they will flee. I accidentally chased them right off the deck a couple of times, and it’s not like these are flying squirrels, they belly-flopped on the ground with a loud smack. That kept them at bay for a couple of weeks, but they still came back. But Kitty and I could not corner and capture the enemy chipmunks.

I decided to consult my veterinarian about the problem. Perhaps there was some chipmunk repellent or natural remedy. One of the young vet trainees said she just saw a chapter on chipmunks in her veterinary medicine textbook, she xeroxed it and gave it to me. I learned quite a bit about the psychology of the enemy. Chipmunks live in burrows that always have at least 2 exits. No chipmunk will ever allow itself to be trapped in a spot with only one way out. The textbook recommended that aggressive chipmunks that invade human turf be killed by poisoning. I was not prepared to use chemical weapons against the enemy, I would have preferred to capture the enemy, put them on trial, and exile them to nearby farmland where they could live out their lives without causing further trouble.

One day I was sitting at home and I heard Kitty outside, she was making the most godawful hissing and howling sound. My kitty is very neurotic and it took me years to get her even to meow, she never hisses or howls, and this was the first time had ever heard her in such a frantic state. I rushed outside and Kitty was poised at taut attention, eyes focused on a tarp sitting in the corner of the deck. I could not figure out what was going on, so I went over to lift up the corner of the tarp, and the chipmunk went shooting out. Kitty lunged, but the chipmunk escaped. I had given aid to the enemy, allowing the chipmunk to escape just as it came closer to capture than it ever had before. Kitty was crestfallen.

After this humilating defeat, Kitty lost all interest in hunting the chipmunks. She never wanted to go outside anymore, she lost weight and died a few months later. I felt like my inopportune intervention in the chipmunk war had broken her heart, and she pined away.

So now that my most trusted soldier has passed away, there is nothing to keep the chipmunk population from exploding. Kitty is no longer keeping the enemy at bay, and they are running a new guerilla war, encroaching on my territory. I am in an interminable war, and I have no exit strategy. The chipmunks are winning.

15 thoughts on “War With The Chipmunks”

  1. I read of a similar thing here:
    I suppose if it is outright guerilla war with no hope of a solution through negotiation, then the best one can hope for is partial loss over outright loss.
    What about some form of nylon netting? If it was strung tight so that the creatures couldn’t push it against the tomatoes etc. Short of going for wire enclosures (which would be rather expensive) this works against rosellas here. But then I don’t know how sharp the teeth of a chipmunk are. They might go right through it.

  2. Look at the picture, especially those razor sharp claws on the hind feet. The front claws are even deadlier. They can cut through almost anything but metal or stone. And they can crawl through the holes in chicken wire.
    I used to grow twice as big a garden as I needed, so when the chipmunks ate half of it, I still had everything I wanted. But that was too much work, and I just ended up feeding the enemy and the population exploded.

  3. I’m sorry about your cat, but this is a useless article to repell chipmunks. Please adjust your metafiles and don’t waste anyones time.

  4. Of course the article is useless. The subject may be chipmunks, but it is a metaphor for the futility of war. Sheesh!

  5. give em what they want …. just spike it with a little booze or vet supplied tranquilizers …. pick em up by their tails, bag them and release them where ever you want – like say a trash can. Chipmunks are not a metaphor for anything but chipmunks.

  6. To keep rodents away, head to your local sporting goods store and buy some fox urine. It’s used by hunters to reduce human scent, but it’s also an effective rodent repellent.

  7. Get a Yorkshire terrier. They are better at rodent killing than any cat ever thought they could be. My Yorkie, Finnigan, caught 6 Voles, 2 rabbits and plenty of catchgame balls. He was 12 pounds and was a great friend as well. Oh, yeah, they also like to eat the varmints and then chuck them up – it is really gross, but cheaper than chemicals and cats.

  8. I’m not a dog person, so if I had to pick between a Yorkie and chipmunks, I’d rather have the chipmunks.

  9. Get another cat. You’ll get your edge back by having a “skilled” hunter on your side and keep the enemy on his toes at least. Right now those chipmunks are getting fat and lazy….probably even flaunting their temporary advantage even as I write this by undertaking bolder and more reckless forays into your living space. Right? Squeaking “Here kitty, kitty.”

  10. DO NOT USE FOX URINE. The urine collection process is an extremely cruel one. BUT BEYOND THAT IT DOES NOT WORK. We’ve tried it.
    What does work:
    1. Very bad-tasting sprays will not keep chipmunks away, but will keep them from eating your prized tomatoes (here is a homemade recipe for chipmunk repellent: http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=774&bhcd2=1182259590
    2. Trapping one by one (not working in our yard with over 40 chipmunks). The traps need to be well-hidden. These guys aren’t dumb.
    3. Pellet gun. Sorry, but it does work. Our foundation is made of stone, and our wires in the attic and walls are being chewed up by the adorable little critters (a definite fire danger in this old house). It’s literally us or them. The tomatoes can be eaten but we need our house.
    4. Keeping several cats at once, all of whom go outside. We only have one cat; it’s an indoor cat due to the Fisher cats that live in the area (who think of kitties as a nice bedtime snack). So this option doesn’t work for us, but it works for many people.

  11. get a pellet gun.thats what i use,and i only have one or two chippies at any time. i have never had a garden intrusion in my time ive had a pellet gun.

  12. try a subsonic rodent repellant
    battery operated, repels, gophers, chipmunks, moles… mice, rats and squirrels… pricey at first… avoid cats and dogs in same area

  13. When I was in Boy Scouts (a long, long time ago), we’d catch them like this:
    Determine as best you can where all the entrances are to the varmit’s burrow.
    Get a large clear glass jar.
    Have someone hold the mouth of the jar over the highest entrance.
    Plug all but one of the other openings. Heavy rocks work fine.
    Using a hose, flood the burrow. The critter makes a rapid exit out towards the light.
    Have something like a small piece of wood or screen to cover the jar’s mouth.
    Pick up the jar and do what you want with him.
    It worked for us the first time we tried it. The hardest part is making sure he only has one exit.
    Heck, you could have a chipmunk party, invite your friends, make a day of it! Give ’em out as door prizes or something.
    You could even drop ’em off at Bob Hope’s grave if you like.
    [Yeah, the vet’s book said that chipmunks always have multiple exits from their burrow, and they are usually cleverly disguised, so it might be hard to flush them out. But lately they don’t bother me much. I moved, now my deck is up where chipmunks can’t reach. I see a few of them cavorting around the back yard, but they can’t reach me or my deck garden. –Charles]

  14. Charles – This article and all the answers is hysterically funny. I relate to it all having my own war/entertainment with these critters. Right now we are overrun and the enemy is winning. I’m convinced a condo in the sky will be the final answer to no more chippies. Thank you for making my morning filled with chuckles.

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