We usually love to see chipmunks skitter about in the woods and parks. They are quite annoying, however, when they come onto our properties and burrow under our flowerbeds, eat our vegetables, or even make our garages their home!
Fortunately for us, there’s a great way to keep these pesky rodents away by using the power of smell.
Powerful smells like coffee, cayenne pepper, peppermint, cinnamon, or citrus overwhelm a chipmunk’s senses and mask any potential food or shelter sources they may be searching for. By combining scents w
In the rest of this article, I will give you all the information you need to get rid of these pesky critters! There are several ways you can accomplish this, but feel free to use more than one method. The more unpleasant the environment of your garage is, the quicker they will head out.
What Kind Of Chipmunk Might Be In My Garage?
There are 24 species of chipmunks in the United States. The most common species is the eastern chipmunk, which is known for its reddish-brown fur and five dark stripes along its body. You will usually find these critters to the east of the Mississippi River, with very few to the west.
Chipmunks spend most of their day foraging and storing food. You will find them in your yard, digging around for flower bulbs and terrorizing your bird feeders. They will eat bulbs, nuts, seeds, berries, mushrooms, insects, bird eggs, and fungi. They are not very picky!
Chipmunks are known for their burrowing skills and can make a tunnel system 20-30ft deep. The tunnels provide shelter and food storage they are constantly preparing for winter.
Chipmunks do not hibernate, but they spend most of the winter sleeping. If the temperatures get warm enough in the winter, they will spend the day foraging around for more food. So, you will see them all year round if you get warm days in winter.
Here’s What Makes Chipmunks So Annoying
While they are adorable, chipmunks can be extremely aggravating to homeowners because they can cause a lot of damage to your yard and home.
If chipmunks are nearby, they may burrow through landscaping, eat flower bulbs, and empty your bird feeders. Be careful if you are growing fruits and vegetables, especially grains and berries. They love a lot of the same things we do.
In my opinion, the WORST thing about chipmunks is the potential damage they can do to your home. If there are a lot of them, chipmunks can burrow underneath patios, retention walls, stairs, and foundations.
According to Penn State Extension, when chipmunks are present, you’ll usually find 2-4 chipmunks per acre of land you own. Sometimes this number may be up to 10!
If the chipmunks make their way inside your home, they can bring along other things like fleas on their fur.
After all of those potential disasters, it’s no wonder why you would not want these critters in your house, let alone your garage! Let’s jump into why they are in your garage, how they damage it, and how to get them out!
Why Do Chipmunks Like My Garage?
Chipmunks love your garage because it is a great shelter for them to hide and store food, and there may be food somewhere within it.
If you have clutter, they will find a place to hide. Cars, garbage bins, or open boxes provide even more hiding spots for them.
If you have a dryer, water heater, furnace, or any other appliance that produces warmth in your garage, it can attract chipmunks.
Your garage may also be where you keep your supply of bird feed. One of the first signs you will see of a chipmunk invasion is the raiding of the birdseed. Keep it in a sealed container to keep them away.
Keeping your garage clean will lower the number of potential hiding spots. We will talk about it a little later.
How To Tell If You Have Chipmunks in Your Garage
It is pretty easy to figure out you have chipmunks in your garage. Besides seeing one, you can tell if they are hanging out in there if there are stockpiles of food like acorns. You may find these in small places that they may have burrowed into, like in open cardboard boxes.
You may notice small piles of waste. Chipmunk feces are oblong-shaped and left in piles. You’ll most likely find chipmunks most active during the morning hours.
So, if you want to actually see a chipmunk in your garage, the morning is your best bet.
You may also notice wires under the hood of your car have been chewed on. This is a telltale sign of a chipmunk infestation.
If you’re looking for a chipmunk burrow in your garage, Purdue’s Department of Entomology recommends looking for possible entrances about 2 inches in diameter.
Other signs include scratching sounds, damaged objects in the garage, footprints, and partially eaten food.
How Can Chipmunks Damage My Garage?
Chipmunks are notorious for burrowing and destroying plants. However, they can also do a lot of damage to your garage.
Your car, especially when it’s warm, is a safe haven for chipmunks in the garage. They will find any opening under the hood and make their way in there. Chipmunks also love nibbling on any wires they find in your car because it helps to keep their teeth strong, but it can cost you thousands.
Their excrement has the possibility of ruining books or other porous objects stored in your garage. They can chew through gym bags, soil improperly stored food, and rip up books. Chipmunks can do some seriously annoying stuff to your garage.
There is also the possibility of their empty shells becoming a fire hazard if too many get stacked up in one area, especially if they are blocking vents for electrical appliances.
Besides being annoying, you want to get rid of chipmunks in your garage so you can avoid damage to your car and home and the destruction of items stored in your garage.
Below is a list of tips you can use to get these pesky critters out of your garage. You can use one tip or combine multiple to raise the chance of removing them.
If these tips do not work for you and you still have chipmunks in your garage, I highly suggest contacting a local exterminator to get the job done for you. You will be very glad you did!
Tips For Easy Chipmunk Removal
Unless you are calling a professional or using a live trap (not recommended), the only way to get rid of chipmunks is to scare them out or to make their living situation unpleasant enough that they leave.
They are very stubborn creatures who will live within your walls and cause a lot of trouble for your home, including the objects in your garage. Getting them out as quickly as possible will save you a lot of time and hassle.
The most important thing to remember about chipmunks is that to aggravate them and get them to abandon their nesting sites, you have to upset multiple senses. Simply put, annoy them with an unpleasant smell and an annoying sound and you will certainly drive many of them away.
Live Traps For Chipmunks
It is highly recommended you get rid of chipmunks by using repellent rather than trapping them. Only professionals should live trap chipmunks in your home.
Using a live trap is not effective for a humane relocation of chipmunks either. The chance of survival is really low for chipmunks if you release them somewhere far from where you caught them.
It is also a bad idea because often it is illegal to release wild animals on county, state, or federal land, depending on where you live.
Use Scents Chipmunks Hate
Chipmunks rely on their sense of smell for a lot of things, so their noses are very sensitive. Use potent scents to ward them off from your garage. Some effective smells are cayenne pepper, coffee grounds, chili powder, medicated powder, urine spray, cinnamon, and peppermint oil.
If you’re interested, you can read more about the scents that chipmunks hate here. This is a more in-depth look at how to use these scents to repel chipmunks!
Make A Cayenne Pepper Chipmunk Repellent
There are many spices in your kitchen cabinet effective at keeping chipmunks away. This is a very easy, quick, and effective way to aggravate the chipmunks and get them out of the garage.
If you have smelled a spice up close, you know how strong and pungent the scent is. Imagine how much more intense it is for a chipmunk! They hate powerful smells, especially peppers.
The most effective spice for chipmunk repellent is cayenne pepper.
If you are using cayenne pepper or chili powder, sprinkle it around the perimeter of the garage. You want to smell it when you walk into the garage, so you will use it a lot.
Another easy way to get rid of them is to make a spray using 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper spice combined with 1 cup of water. Feel free to add more spice to strengthen it. Spray it around your garage, hitting along the bottom of any storage shelves and in the corners of the room, or anywhere you have noticed the chipmunks have been.
After a day or two, you should notice the chipmunks have left. The strong odors will annoy them and they will leave. However, there may be a straggler or two, so spray the garage again, and wait a couple more days if you see more.
As always, if you are not successful at getting rid of chipmunks your own way, call in a professional to do the work for you.
Use Spent Coffee Grounds To Repel Garage Chipmunks
Coffee grounds are another great way to get rid of chipmunks because of their aromatic smell. They are very easy to use and can sometimes be free. A lot of coffee shops are more than willing to give away used coffee grounds for free, so do not be afraid to visit them if you have a chipmunk problem.
Take the coffee grounds and sprinkle them in and around your garage the same way as you would do with spices. The more pungent the grounds are, the better the effect.
If you still have chipmunks in your garage after using coffee grounds, try reapplying it in other areas that the chipmunks may be. Check for holes or crevices higher in your garage that they may have burrowed into. You may have to put coffee grounds on a shelf near the opening or other surfaces off the ground.
Cinnamon, Peppermint, and Citrus Repel Garage Chipmunks
Concentrated oils like cinnamon, peppermint, and citrus are extremely effective against chipmunks because they are so strong.
Peppermint oil, in particular, is very useful for other pest problems like snakes and spiders, so it’s good to have in the house.
To use concentrated oil to get rid of chipmunks, add a couple of drops for every cup of water into a spray bottle. Spray the solutions around the perimeter of your garage, especially around any crevices or openings, just like you would do with the spices.
You can also purchase a repellent like Mighty Mint Rodent Spray that is made with peppermint oil. It is pleasant smelling and non-toxic, so you can use it on your car, walls, shelves, and other areas of the garage where chipmunks may be.
It is also a good idea to spray these oils around the outside of your garage, especially the landscaping near it. This will keep chipmunks from even thinking about coming back to make your garage their home.
Chipmunk Repellent to the Rescue!
Repellent is the most effective way to get rid of chipmunks because they are specially formulated to create smells chipmunks will hate.
Head on over to my other article on The 15 Best Chipmunk Repellents For Your Home And Property for a complete guide on different repellents you can use to keep them away.
If you are using a repellent in the garage, it’s important to choose one that is non-toxic since it will be applied in an enclosed space. Keep that in mind when choosing a repellent.
Spray the repellent solution all over the edges and the opening of the garage, especially around your car, since chipmunks are more likely to make it their home. Anywhere you have noticed chipmunk activity, spray it. You should, of course, check the labels of your repellent to make sure where exactly to spray and which places to avoid.
Some repellents come in pellet form, which you can put in the same places as you would the spray.
Chipmunks Hate Cat Litter And Scary Decoys
The first one is obvious—cats! Chipmunks are terrified of cats because they are supreme predators and they love rodents. Putting the litter box in the garage is enough to repel them from the area because they recognize the scent.
There are other “enemies” you can bring into your garage to scare them off that are also aesthetically pleasing. You can purchase decoys like Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow Great Horned Owl to cause fear and apprehension around going near your garage.
Another decoy that has been successful with chipmunks is the YOFIT Bird Scarecrow Fake Horned Hawk Decoy, another one of their natural predators.
Using decoys is a great way to keep chipmunks away without the use of chemicals or traps. You do not have to reapply it like a chemical and you do not have to replace it every year like other deterrents.
Place the decoy in your garage in plain view. If you are simply trying to ward off chipmunks, place it outside near the entrance.
When Is It Time to Call the Professionals?
If you try all the tips above and you still have chipmunks in your garage, it’s time to call a professional because they may have made a nesting site in your walls. They are worse than rabbits when it comes to reproduction, so soon you will have many more chipmunks in your garage if they have made a nest.
Professionals can safely and humanely trap and release chipmunks for you. They can also help you prevent them from coming back.
You can use my pest control referral service to get in touch with local pest management companies.
Here’s How To Keep Chipmunks from Coming Back To Your Garage
Once you have gotten rid of the pesky critters, you will want to do everything you can to keep them from coming back. Luckily, there are several ways you can prevent their return naturally and humanely.
Clean Up Your Garage
This should be your first step when preventing chipmunk invasions. More clutter means more room for chipmunks to hide and store their food. This is especially true for the garage, which is the room they have the easiest access to.
Clean up any clutter, since they can use it as a nesting site. Cover your garbage bins completely.
Avoid feeding your pets in the garage, and if you do, remove any traces of food immediately after and keep their food sealed in a container. Do not leave pet food in the bag.
Keeping your garage clean and organized is the best way to keep pests out and be aware of them sooner if they get in.
Prep Your Yard
If you want to keep chipmunks out of your garage, you probably also want to keep them out of your yard, since they can do significant damage there too.
By warding them away from your yard, you can also ward them away from your garage, but this is only the case if your garage is protected too. The next section will cover that.
First, protect your garden and flowerbeds. That is prime real estate for a chipmunk. Place hardware cloth underneath flower bulbs to keep them from burrowing down and eating them. If you can’t do it that way, build a trench around the flowerbed that is 6” deep. Place the hardware cloth there and pile the soil back in, creating a fence.
Next, protect your garden and flowerbeds by placing wire mesh over and around them. Build a screen door to let you go in and take care of your plants, but keep it covered. This will help you ward off not only chipmunks but many other animals as well, like birds and deer.
For a full list of the plants in your garden that chipmunks eat, check out our article about the plants that chipmunks eat and how to protect your garden.
Chipmunks love seeds, so avoid putting unsecured bird feeders up if you want to ward off chipmunks, especially if the bird feeder is near your garage. They will love the fact you have a garage hideout for them to store their food.
To put it in simpler terms, maintain the upkeep of your yard and you will see fewer chipmunks. Do not leave fruits and vegetables in the garden past ripeness. Clean up leaf piles and grass clippings.
Prune bushes and fill up any holes you notice in the landscaping. These things will make your yard less appealing to a chipmunk and many other pests.
If you’re worried the holes in your yard may be a chipmunk, you can read a more in-depth article about the signs of a chipmunk hole.
Seal Out Chipmunks
Any opening into your home is a pathway to your garage since chipmunks can travel behind your walls. Chipmunks should be sealed off from every entrance to the house.
Seal off holes to gas lines, cooling lines, and cable lines with caulking or a ¼” welded wire, as well as cover your dryer vent with an exhaust cap like the Blutoget Louvered Exhaust Dryer Vent Cover.
Check for any broken vents and fix them immediately. This is another way chipmunks can get inside.
Inspect your garage for any openings. Seal them off with caulking or wire mesh as well. The smaller number of openings to your garage, the less likely a chipmunk will make its way in there.
So, that’s it! That’s everything you need to know about getting rid of chipmunks humanely and keeping them from coming back.
Feel free to use more than one of these methods to drive them out of your garage for good. I recommend using one of the repellents in my other article I mentioned earlier on the best chipmunk repellents, and another deterrent like a decoy to aggravate multiple senses.
Taking special care to clean and maintain your garage is the best defense against their return. Don’t forget to seal off any openings, keep your garbage bin closed, and store food in airtight containers.
Remember, the more unpleasant the environment, the less likely they’ll be there.
Go forth and good luck!
Bowers, Michael A. “Use of space and habitats by the eastern chipmunk, Tamias striatus.” Journal of Mammalogy 76.1, 1995.
Clarke, Michael F., et al. “Site familiarity affects escape behaviour of the eastern chipmunk, Tamias striatus.” Oikos 1993.
Elliott, Lang. “Social behavior and foraging ecology of the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) in the Adirondack Mountains.” Smithsonian contributions to Zoology, 1978.
Humphries, M. M., Kramer, D. L., & Thomas, D. W. (2003). The role of energy availability in mammalian hibernation: an experimental test in free-ranging eastern chipmunks. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 76(2), 180-186.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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