As cute as they are, chipmunks can be annoying when you start to find their holes around your yard. Typically found on your well-maintained grass, or worse, in your garden – chipmunk holes can be a hassle and can interfere with your property.
Chipmunks dig holes for two reasons: to burrow, or to seek refuge. Chipmunk holes range from 2-3 inches in diameter and are flat to the ground. They may look small from the outside; however, they can be 3 feet deep, and up to 30 feet wide!
If you’re noticing long, flat, hole systems around your yard – there’s a good chance you have chipmunks. The reality is, if you’re finding these holes, the chipmunks have already started to burrow and can be causing damage to your property! So today, we’re going to talk about how to identify these chipmunk holes, and what you can do about it!
If you are unsure how to tackle your chipmunk problem or unsure what to do about the chipmunk’s holes, we recommend contacting a professional as soon as you can to minimize property damage!
Why Do Chipmunks Love Digging Holes In Your Yard?
First and foremost – why do chipmunks dig holes anyways? The reason is simple – they dig holes for two reasons: so that they can seek refuge, or mostly so that they can burrow underground where they make a large, carefully crafted chipmunk abode!
It’s Usually A Sign Of Shelter
Sometimes, chipmunks dig a quick hole to seek refuge if a predator is nearby.
Due to their digging nature, chipmunks can effectively dig a hole and hide in it if they have until they know they are safe!
Chipmunks Create Burrows
Most likely the cause of the holes you’re seeing on your property, chipmunks dig holes because they are creating their burrows. These holes start at ground level but are way more intricate underground.
Chipmunks start by finding the perfect location (usually in the most inconvenient spots for you) and dig straight down up until 3 feet – where they then branch out and create tunnels.
These tunnels lead to actual chipmunk “rooms” which are areas designated for nesting, as a bathroom, and as food storage. From there, they make more pockets underground that act as escape exits, and entrances to the ground level!
But enough about why they’re digging, how do you know if you have chipmunk holes? So, without further ado – here are the 5 signs!
5 Simple Signs of A Chipmunk Hole
Let’s get right to it! How do you know if you have chipmunk holes? Well, it’s actually quite easy to determine if you have chipmunk holes.
However, if you are finding chipmunks on your property, and are looking for some ways to repel them – we’ve got you covered with this too! Head on over to our article to learn about the best chipmunk repellents for your property. From using egg solids, coffee grounds, owl decoys, and way more – you can effectively get rid of those chipmunks!
But for now, if you’re not even sure what the holes are from on your property and want to know if you have chipmunk holes in the first place- keep on reading!
1. Chipmunk Holes Are A Few Inches In Diameter
The first tell-tale sign of a chipmunk hole is its size! Chipmunk holes are tiny from the outside, but unfortunately for your landscaping, get really big underneath!
Chipmunk holes serve as entrances to an extensive burrowing system underground.
The entrances of the chipmunk holes are usually 2 inches in diameter, and the chipmunks remove any fresh dirt from the openings so that predators don’t find them.
The size of the entrances and the removal of the fresh dirt are all so that price editors don’t find the chipmunks. Let’s talk more about the removal of fresh dirt and why it works to protect them below!
2. You’re Seeing Mounds Of Dirt Near The Holes
Think about it – a newly dug hole, that looks freshly dug will only make a predator think that there are animals in the hole! Animals are extremely smart and use signs like seeking freshly dug dirt, to track and find their prey.
Since fresh dirt may mean newly dug holes, chipmunks remove it so that predators don’t assume that the holes are freshly filled with chipmunks! So, removing the fresh dirt from the opening keeps predators from finding chipmunks.
Chipmunks have many predators like hawks, owls, snakes, cats, raccoons’ foxes, and more! And since many of these predators are ground-dwelling, removing the dirt from the entrance can make a predator overlook a chipmunk den, and mosy on by! Here’s a full list of chipmunk predators if you’d like to learn more.
3. Chipmunk Holes Are Flat
When we say chipmunk holes are flat, we mean that the chipmunk holes have no mounds of dirt or fresh dirt that is visible around the entrances. Chipmunk holes are always kept free of excavated dirt.
Basically, the chipmunk holes look flat and connected to the ground, and don’t look “freshly dug” for a reason – because chipmunks work to remove all the excess dirt from the opening.
4. Many Holes = Many Chipmunks
If you’re finding a lot of holes within a 30-foot range, there’s a good chance you have chipmunk holes!
Chipmunk burrows underground can be anywhere from 20-30 feet wide! And with this, you may find a multitude of entrances above ground to enter a chipmunk’s extensive burrow.
Each chipmunk burrow system has a nesting chamber, up to 2 food storage chambers, side pockets that connect back to the main tunnel, a bathroom, and then separate escape tunnels!
Although it may be looks like a random bunch of holes from up top – the burrowing system is very well-managed and has a lot of different attributes that make it a chipmunk burrow.
5. Chipmunk Holes Are Near Buildings And Gardens
Chipmunks usually den near buildings or other man-made structures like gardens, wood piles, stumps, brush piles, or near sheds, pools, and basements.
If you’re noticing a lot of holes close to your personal space – it’s most likely chipmunks digging the holes. They dig holes like this because they think they’re hidden and are camouflaged with the structure they’re digging next to!
This is why a lot of times chipmunk holes can cause problems for you and your property – and we’re going to talk more about this below!
However, before we do that, make sure to head on over to our article about sealing up chipmunk holes if you’ve already established that you have them. By using metal mesh, barrier cloth, and some materials like foam and more – you can effectively seal them up and we can tell you how!
What Problems Do Chipmunk Holes Cause?
At face value you may be thinking, okay so these chipmunk holes – why are they a problem for me?
Well, the truth is, these chipmunk holes may not look so bad at ground level, but underneath, these holes can uproot your plants, can damage foundations, and in extreme scenarios – can cause structures to cave in!
Chipmunk Holes Can Destroy Your Plants
Although chipmunks may not be ruining your plants on the surface, the problem is that when chipmunks burrow, they will remove anything in their path underground – including your freshly planted seeds and bulbs, the established rooting systems of shrubs and plants, and seedlings!
And get this – according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Services, chipmunks love to eat seeds and bulbs – so, if they come across it in their burrowing path, they may just take it and store it for a meal later on!
A chipmunk’s digging nature creates the perfect nesting space and home for a chipmunk to live in, but these burrows will, unfortunately, ruin anything in its underground path.
Considering the large size of these burrows as well, up to 30 feet wide, if you have large gardens, lined shrubbery, and any planting systems in place, chipmunks can destroy them.
Chipmunk Holes Can Mess With Underground Sprinkler Systems
If you happen to have underground sprinkler systems, chipmunks can damage the entire system if they choose to burrow close by.
Since sprinkler systems need to use piping and tubing underground, chipmunk burrows can loosen the soil around the materials, which can cause the materials to unstable.
The way a chipmunk digs through the soil can also cause damage to the sprinkler system as they will push through and even chew on piping if they are determined enough to get through it!
Damage To Underground Pipes And Wires Can Occur From Chipmunk Holes
Likewise, all pipes and wires that are underground are in danger, when chipmunks try to burrow around them.
Chipmunks will gnaw through pipes and wires if they happen to be in the way of building their burrow. Gnawing on wires can easily cause damage, while gnawing on pipes may be a little trickier – but can cause leaks, and blockages.
Chipmunk Holes Damage Foundations
Another huge issue that can come with chipmunk holes is that they can actually damage foundations.
It may sound severe, but, if chipmunks decide to den next to your home, basement, pool, patio, or other pavements, the foundations of these structures can be destroyed due to the loosening of the soil around the foundation.
Foundations are built to last, and typically, after a foundation is set, little is done to the surrounding area to disturb it. However, imagine an abundance of holes and now burrowing systems underground surrounding the foundation. There is now the possibility of the foundation moving, cracking, or shifting.
Structures Can Cave In
Further damage that can occur from the movement of foundations is the actual structures caving in. This is definitely on the more extreme end, but if you have an extremely large chipmunk infestation, it can happen.
However, if you feel that you do have any chipmunk infestation – it’s best to get ahead of the problem! We have some tips that you can do to get rid of chipmunks that we will talk more about below!
Ways To Stop Chipmunks From Digging Holes
Now that you’ve determined that you have chipmunks, there are some things that you can do to deter them from digging holes.
By using scents that chipmunks hate, planting certain plants, and by installing motion-activated sprinklers and flashing lights, you can effectively deter chipmunks from your outdoor space.
1. Use Scents That Chipmunks Hate To Repel Them
Chipmunks have a keen sense of smell, and are extremely sensitive to smells they don’t like!
Chipmunks use their sense of smell to locate prey, food, predators, and other chipmunks. However, since they rely on their scent so heavily, using scents that they don’t like will keep them from your property and will stop them from digging holes!
If you already notice holes, it’s better to contact a professional before adding any scents to them.
Here are some scents they hate and how to use them:
- Vinegar – Chipmunks hate the smell of vinegar and will stay away from any area that smells like it. To use vinegar, make a quick solution by adding equal parts white vinegar into a spray bottle, along with water.
Generously spraying the vinegar solution around areas where you have seen chipmunks, or want to keep chipmunks from, will keep them away (here’s our detailed guide on using vinegar to repel chipmunks.)
- Coffee Grounds – Coffee ground is also hated by chipmunks, and sprinkling fresh or used coffee grounds around plants, foundations, and other areas where you want to keep chipmunks away – will help to deter them.
Not only do chipmunks hate the smell of coffee (I know, hard to believe that anything hates coffee), but they also hate the texture on their feet!
- Cayenne Pepper – Chipmunks absolutely hate cayenne pepper due to its spicy nature.
If a chipmunk sniffs cayenne pepper, it will irritate its senses. This irritation may feel dangerous to a chipmunk, and therefore, they will stay far away.
- Citrus – Citrus is also bothersome to chipmunks, and the smell is too strong for them. Since citrus has a strong smell, the scent will overwhelm a chipmunk’s senses and will mask the smell of predators and food.
To add citrus to your property you can go directly to the source and add various citrus peels like lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lime peels.
Or, you can add citrus as essential oil like with this Citrus Essential Oils Set that includes lemon, bergamot, and mandarin scents. Take the oils and add them to cotton balls and place them around your property for extra protection!
- Cedar Mulch – Chipmunks absolutely hate the smell of cedar, and a good way to deter them would be to use cedar mulch around your garden, perimeters of your property, and even in potted plants and around trees!
To purchase cedar mulch, check out these 100% Natural Aromatic Cedar Wood Shavings, this is an easy way to add cedar to your outdoor space.
2. Use Plants That Chipmunks Hate To Keep Them From Digging Holes
There are certain plants that are an absolute no-no, for chipmunks. Flowering plants like Marigolds, Daffodils, and Hyacinths, and highly scented plants like Mint, Onion, or Garlic plants, are all hated by chipmunks.
Firstly, chipmunks hate marigolds because of the fragrant scent they produce.
The scent of marigolds is from terpenes. Terpenes is a naturally occurring compound that is in the essential oil of many plants. It produces a strong scent, that chipmunks hate.
Daffodils are also hated by the chipmunk community because they are actually poisonous to them, and chipmunks know it!
Daffodils contain lycorine which is poisonous and extremely bitter to chipmunks and other pests. Due to their instincts (and the bitter smell it produces) chipmunks know to stay away.
The bulbs of daffodils hold the poisonous nature, and thus, when planted underground, chipmunks will avoid burrowing near it so they don’t come in contact with it!
Chipmunks also hate the flowering plant Hyacinth due to its overwhelmingly fragrant nature.
Although these flowers may smell nice to us, the scent of Hyacinth completely overwhelms their sense of scent and masks their scent.
Chipmunks also really hate the smell of mint and hate the plant just as much.
Planting mint in your garden, and especially vegetable gardens, will help keep chipmunks away and will help keep them from digging while giving you a great fresh herb.
Other ways to use mint are to purchase it in an essential oil form, like this Majestic Pure Peppermint Essential Oil!
By using the oil or spray form of mint, and generously adding it around chipmunk-prone areas, you can effectively keep chipmunks from digging holes.
Onion and Garlic Plants
Another plant that is highly hated by chipmunks is alliums – which consist of onion and garlic!
Onion and garlic plants both let off horrible poignant smells for animals and although we humans enjoy it in bulk, chipmunks absolutely hate it.
The smells of both onion and garlic are bitter and bring a spiciness due to a defense mechanism called allicin, that the plants produce on their own. This defense mechanism is let off so that the plant isn’t eaten, and other than humans, most wildlife feels threatened by it!
3. Installing Motion-Activated Sprinklers Will Keep Chipmunks Away
Another great way to keep chipmunks from burrowing is to install motion-activated sprinklers around your property.
Although chipmunks do like water and will go for the occasional swim in your swimming pool – random, unexpected water from a motion-activated sprinkler will startle chipmunks and keep them from digging holes!
By installing automatic sprinklers like this Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler, you can easily keep chipmunks away from your property.
4. Use Flashing Lights To Keep Chipmunks From Digging
Another easy way to keep chipmunks from digging is to install flashing lights or strobe lights in your outdoor space!
Light pollution actually disorients wildlife. And although it may quickly disorient an animal, the good news is – once they get away from the lights, they will feel better and you will have effectively gotten rid of the chipmunks!
Adding strobe lights, flashing lights, or motion-activated lights with startle chipmunks, and keep them away for good.
Why Are Chipmunks Attracted To My Yard In The First Place?
Although all these solutions are effective in keeping chipmunks out, you may be wondering why chipmunks are attracted to your space in the first place! So, before we go, let’s talk about this because you may be attracting chipmunks, without even realizing it!
1. Your Yard Is Providing Food
The number one reason why chipmunks are attracted to your space may be due to its offering of food.
If you have a lot of fruiting trees, vegetable gardens, oak trees that produce acorns, or trees that produce nuts, you are attracting chipmunks to your space without even realizing it.
Likewise, if you aren’t tidying up your outdoor space, keeping garbage cans open and overflowing, and food scraps on the floor – you can be attracting chipmunks.
Also, if you happen to have birdfeeders on your property, you can be attracting chipmunks as well – since they absolutely love seed!
2. Chipmunks Are Attracted To Brush
Another thing chipmunks are attracted to is brush, because brush means shelter and being able to hide from predators for a chipmunk.
Overgrown shrubbery, overgrown brush, log piles, and overgrown grass and vegetation all lead to attracting chipmunks.
By maintaining and keeping up with your property, landscape, and plants by keeping them neat, trimming grass, and cleaning up piles of logs and environmental debris, you can keep chipmunks away.
3. Your Property Has Lots Of Standing Water
Lastly, chipmunks are attracted to water.
If you have a pool, a lot of standing water nearby, bird baths, baby pools that are filled up, or even water features like waterfalls and ponds, you can be attracting chipmunks without realizing it!
Although chipmunks don’t necessarily swim, chipmunks drink water and if there is not only food, shelter, and now water on your property – you are keeping chipmunks around your property!
That’s A Wrap!
All in all, if you’re noticing holes on your property – there are a few ways to determine if they are from a chipmunk or not!
Signs of a chipmunk hole include:
- Holes that are 2-3 inches in diameter
- Flat holes without dirt mounds surrounding them
- Many holes within a 30-foot span
- Holes near your structures or gardens
If you established that you have chipmunk holes, or are unsure if you do or not, please contact a professional to assist you.
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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