Chipmunks are named after their cute “chip-chip” chatter but are known for their not-so-cute tendencies to chip away at your home and garden. While they may seem cute and innocent, the chipmunks around your home are carrying pieces of your property in their puffy cheeks.
You can repel chipmunks by using items that are most likely already in your home. The best chipmunk repellents are essential oils (peppermint, cedarwood, and cinnamon), castor oil, garlic, pepper powders, eggs, coffee grounds, apple cider vinegar, owls, and training your dog to chase them.
Repellents vary based on the situation and the individuality of each chipmunk. However, with a variety of repellents that chipmunks hate, there is surely an item on that list that you can use right now to send those chipmunks over to the neighbor’s yard or back into the woods.
Identifying Chipmunk Damage Around Your Property
There is a variety of wildlife that lives among the trees and waits for the right moment to strike at something around your home, so it might be hard to determine what exactly is chipping away at your home and plants.
Chipmunks live in burrows under your deck, around sidewalks, near the foundation of your home, and in fallen logs around the wooded areas of your property.
Unlike other animals that burrow around your home, chipmunk burrows have no obvious signs such as mounds or raised areas around the entrance.
In fact, chipmunks carry the dirt from burrowing in their cheeks and scatter it away from their burrows to make their sneaky presence a secret – that is until they begin chipping away at your home, electrical wires, or start eating the plants and fruits in your garden.
Chipmunks feed during the day, so you can easily identify what is eating away at your prized plants or chewing away at your home.
There’s no secret there.
One chipmunk isn’t going to cause an abundance of issues around your home – that is unless they are chewing at the electrical wires around your home.
Usually, noticeable damage is the cause of multiple chipmunks in a given area.
Chipmunks mate once in the spring, and then again in the summer birthing two to six kits in under 31 days.
You can have a chipmunk invasion on your hands in as little as a month.
Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.
Baby chipmunks (kits), when born, are the small size of a bumblebee. The only harm they can do at that stage is committing the crime of being too cute unlike their parent chipmunks, who love love LOVE to chew.
Solving Extensive Chipmunk Damage
So I completely re-wrote this piece, as I didn’t like the existing one that was up and I’ve had a lot of people ask about chipmunks this summer.
For instance, one of my good friends has a major issue with chipmunks chewing on the side of his hot tub. Check out the images below and you’ll see JUST how destructive these little buggers are.
Obviously, the damage here is quite extensive to the point where the water lines have even been chewed through. Currently at my home, chipmunks are working their way through the siding into my office (maybe they just want to say great work on the website?)
Ultimately, depending on your situation, the absolute BEST way to repel chipmunks is using a combination of one or more of the below methods, and then practicing long-term chipmunk repelling tips which we’ll get to at the end of this article.
Basically, your goal will be to mask or remove things that attract chipmunks in order to keep them from wanting to visit your property.
So if you’ve got chipmunks chewing through your house or on something valuable outside, you’ll want to ask yourself the following:
- Why are they chewing through this? The chipmunks may think your object is food, or are chewing to get to a nesting spot / grab nesting materials.
- Is this object attracting to chipmunks? In the case of the hot tub above, it looks like the chipmunks either sensed water in the water lines or were going after the insulation for nesting material.
- Is there something near where they’re chewing that attracting them? Think tall grass, something wet like standing water, spilled pet food, dropped acorns, etc. Anything that they may use as food or shelter.
So now with those questions in mind, you’ll want to consider what type of repellent will work best for you with chipmunks, and THEN solve those questions with one or more of the repellents below.
Again, you should definitely practice the long-term care tips we’ll review at the end.
So without further ado – let’s get to it!
The Best Rodent Repellents That Chipmunks Hate The Most
In order to properly keep away pesky wildlife and keep a mama chipmunk’s litter from calling your home their village is by stimulating more than one of their senses at a time.
For chipmunks, targeting their sense of smell and taste is the best way to keep them away.
Since chipmunks are chewing away at your fruits, seeds, plants, and home, giving them a taste or smell of something off-putting will send them searching for a new place to burrow and feed.
Chipmunks hate the smell of essential oils, garlic, coffee grounds, eggs, apple cider vinegar, and predators the most. Other repellents such as castor oil, pepper powders, and owls will also keep chipmunks away.
Peppermint, Cedarwood and Cinnamon Essential Oils Repel Chipmunks
Essential oils are nature’s best kept secret. For us, their healing properties are hard to beat. For the chipmunks, their strong scents beat their noses to your garden.
Chipmunks hate the smell of peppermint, cedarwood, and cinnamon essential oils keeping them far away from your home.
The masking scent of these oils confuses the chipmunks ability to sniff out some food sources repelling them from your home.
Chipmunks aren’t the only ones that hate the strong scent of those three oils. Creating a DIY spray containing all three will also keep the pesky garden bugs away from your plants and home.
Try mixing 10 drops of each peppermint, cedarwood, and cinnamon essential oils in a spray bottle filled with warm water. Spray the mixture on your garden plants during the evening and watch the bugs fly away and the chipmunks stay away.
If the chipmunks are targeting your home more than your garden, spray the mixture around the perimeter of your property to keep them away.
If you’re over the chipmunks in your yard and well past the DIY stage to send them away, Bonide Rat Magic Rodent Repellent is one of the best options to repel chipmunks.
This repellent contains peppermint and cedarwood essential oil along with castor oil and is designed for rodents exclusively (chipmunks, squirrels, rats, mice, etc.)
Bonide is an all-natural deterrent using a combination of essential oils and other repellents you’ll find listed below to effectively deter chipmunks from your home.
Keep in mind, the results will vary based on use and possible user error SO make sure that you follow all product instructions for any commercial product for best results.
Cost-Efficient Castor Oil Keeps The Chipmunks Away
Another ingredient found in Bonide is castor oil. Castor oil is an effective chipmunk repellent.
Chipmunks find the smell of castor oil repulsive and will stay away from your home or wherever it is sprayed.
If you’re able to locate the hole in your yard that the chipmunks are calling their home, try pouring castor oil around the burrow and watch them pack their bags (or cheeks of all the snacks they’ve stolen from your home).
You can also mix castor oil with warm water and a few drops of dish soap and spray the leaves of your plants to keep the chipmunks from eating away at them. This will also deter other wildlife from snacking in your garden.
This method is safe for your plants and the chipmunks – they just find the smell terrible and thus, aren’t able to sense other things nearby that actually attract them.
Crush Garlic Around Your Home To Repel Chipmunks
Garlic is one of the most versatile plants around and one of the best to keep wildlife out of your garden.
Chipmunks do not like the smell of garlic. Much like any scent used to deter animals, garlic confuses their senses and inhibits their ability to sniff out food sources or find their way back home.
Plant garlic around your home and in your garden to repel chipmunks. Chipmunks find the smell of garlic offensive and so do other rodents, such as squirrels.
You can also crush a few cloves of garlic and sprinkle it around the perimeter of your property to prevent burrowing in the first place.
Garlic powder is also effective in the same manner.
Try mixing garlic powder, cloves, or minced garlic (whatever you have readily available in your home) with some warm water. You can then spray the mixture around your home and garden to deter bugs and chipmunks.
Sprinkle Cayenne And Ghost Pepper Around Chipmunk Burrows To Repel Them
According to the University of Florida, products that contain capsaicin are the most promising deterrents for chasing the chipmunks out of your yard.
Peppers, such as cayenne and ghost peppers, contain capsaicin which can make plants painful to eat, tangy to taste, and startling to smell to the average chipmunk.
This all-encompassing repellent is highly effective.
Try sprinkling cayenne pepper around the entrance of a chipmunk burrow to force them out of your yard. You can also sprinkle the spice around or on your plants to keep away other small animals.
Red pepper flakes also make an effective chipmunk repellent.
If you don’t have either of these in your spice cabinet, mix any capsaicin containing pepper in a spray bottle with warm water and spray where you find the chipmunks feasting.
They’ll certainly stop chewing at your home after getting a taste of those spicy peppers!
In a study conducted by Brigham Young University, coating seeds (a common chipmunk snack) in a mixture of products that contain pepper powders effectively kept the majority of the chipmunks away.
They found that some chipmunks ate zero of the seeds soaked in the spices and others snacked on them quite generously, proving the individuality of each chipmunk.
Coffee Grounds Deter Chipmunks From Burrowing Under Your Deck
There’s nothing quite like starting your morning with a fresh cup of coffee. For the chipmunks, it’ll certainly be a morning they won’t forget.
The strong and bitter smell of coffee will stimulate the sensitive noses of the chipmunks and send them searching for a new set of snacks. They will also think humans are nearby and be more likely to stay away!
After brewing your morning coffee, save the coffee grounds for the chipmunks in your garden OR under your deck.
Sprinkling the brewed coffee grounds, or even fresh coffee grounds, around their burrows and around the perimeter of your home will repel chipmunks.
Coffee grounds also make the perfect addition to your compost pile.
Add it to the soil in your garden to keep the chipmunks away and benefit your acid-loving plants.
Putrescent Egg Solids Smell Bad To Chipmunks
Outside of eating seeds, nuts, berries and grains, chipmunks prey on small, young birds and even bird eggs.
The sight of a small egg outside your home will alert the chipmunks that a tasty snack is lying just ahead of them – that is until they catch a whiff of it.
Not just any egg will keep the chipmunks away. Especially since they find small eggs the perfect cheek-stuffing snack.
Putrescent eggs are eggs that are not fit for human consumption. If you don’t want to buy a repellent with the natural ingredient in it, try hard boiling some super old eggs from your fridge, breaking them up, and placing them around the perimeter of your home.
The sulfur-smelling snack will send the chipmunks searching for a new spot to burrow in.
Distilled White Vinegar Repels Chipmunks
Many of these repellents target the sense of smell of each individual chipmunk; it’s almost the best way to keep them from chewing at your home and garden.
Distilled white vinegar is yet again, another scent that is so strong, the chipmunks won’t want to be part of your home.
If the chipmunks are congregating in your garden, mix warm water with some distilled white vinegar to create your own DIY chipmunk repellent spray.
If they’re targeting your home, soak some fabrics (rags, cloths, towels) in distilled white vinegar and place them in the areas you want the chipmunks to avoid.
Common places to place white vinegar soaked fabrics are under your deck, around your porch, on fence posts, and near the siding of your home.
Keep in mind, you’ll have to continuously reapply once the scent wears down, most likely after a day or two.
Also, make SURE not to use apple cider vinegar, as it has a bit of a sweet scent that may bring chipmunks and other wildlife in closer.
Coyote & Fox Scents Scare Chipmunks
One of the most effective ways to repel and prevent chipmunks from destroying your home and garden is by using the natural scent of chipmunk predators.
Chipmunks play an important part in the food chain. Many predators prey on chipmunks such as owls, coyotes, snakes, foxes, raccoons, rats, hawks, bobcats, and even house cats.
Using the scent of predator urine to prevent chipmunks from burrowing around your home is a promising deterrent.
Even the scent of your dog around the perimeter of your home will alert the chipmunks that your property isn’t the place for them to pick through.
Personally, our new pups have perfected the hobby of chasing those cute chipmunks out of the corners of our yard and if she could fly down a mountain to catch her very own chipmunk – she would.
They also chase leaves too – so I guess they’ll chase anything. But I’ll take it!
The very idea of being caught by a predator will induce fear in the chipmunks, preventing their presence to begin with.
You could also use coyote urine to repel chipmunks specifically as well! Be sure to review the downsides of using coyote urine.
Blood Meal Deters Chipmunks
Alongside the smell of predator urine, the use of blood meal will alert the chipmunks that a predator is nearby.
Blood meal is derived from the dried blood of animals and is a natural deterrent for many small animals including chipmunks, rabbits, and moles.
Not only is blood meal a natural deterrent, it is also nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
Using blood meal as a fertilizer, especially around your tomatoes, will keep the chipmunks from feasting in your garden while growing healthier plants.
You can also sprinkle blood meal around your yard to prevent chipmunks from burrowing at your place.
Owls Scare Chipmunks Away From Your Home
Owls are a natural chipmunk enemy.
Unlike the other repellents we’ve covered, this method is used to instill fear in the chipmunks keeping them out of plain view to save themselves from swooping owls.
If you have a pesky presence of chipmunks around your home, it is likely that no owls are posting up on your fence posts or in the trees nearby.
The Dalen Fake Owl Scarecrow Decoy will make the perfect addition to your yard scaring off many small animals that owls commonly prey on.
This decoy is hand-painted with the finest details to appear incredibly realistic.
While working to weed out the chipmunks from your yard, the Dalen fake owl also functions as a unique garden ornament.
You can place the decoy in a nearby tree, on a fence post, or just outside of the garden to mimic the habits of a real owl.
If used in combination with some of the other deterrents you’ve learned about, keeping chipmunks out of your yard will be easy.
Keep in mind, using SOLELY this repellent will likely result in chipmunks learning over time that the owl won’t cause them any harm (as you know, it doesn’t move.)
Predator Noises Can Scare Chipmunks
So I devised this one here using simple logic. You probably have some sort of old bluetooth speaker around the house and if not, you can acquire a pretty cost effective one for our purposes here.
Basically, the idea is to play a predator noise, like that of an owl
How To Keep Chipmunks Out Of Your Yard Long-Term
Many of these repellents target a chipmunk’s sense of smell. Since many of them can be made into mixtures to be sprayed around your home, it is important to note that any storm or rain will immediately wash them away.
To keep the chipmunks away long-term, each of these deterrents must be applied frequently, mainly after scattered rain washes them away.
Over time, it is not uncommon for chipmunks to become used to the taste and smell of these deterrents, so it is just as important to mix up your methods as often as possible to ensure a pest-free property.
Rid Your Home Of Chipmunk Attractants To Keep Them Away Long-Term
In any case of wildlife damage, the most effective way to limit damage to your home and garden is to prevent them from making your place their home to begin with.
Here are some common chipmunk attractants to clear your yard of:
- Chipmunks are attracted to stuffing their cheeks with seeds and nuts. Place bird feeders 15-30 feet away from buildings. Chipmunks, squirrels, and many other rodents will rummage through bird feeders clearing them of all of the seeds and nuts you left for the birds to find.
- Other sources of attractants include pet food, watering bowls, compost bins, and unsecured garbage cans. Chipmunks can sniff out these snacks from the safety of their burrows and will sneak bites whenever possible. If you leave any food or water source outdoors, it creates the potential of dragging in more than just the cute and not-so-cuddly chipmunks.
- Chipmunks are attracted to rock piles, hollowed out logs, and openings under your deck. Chipmunks will seek out areas that harbor the best potential for secure habitats. Clear your yard of overgrown grasses, fallen trees, and unnecessary rock piles to make your yard undesirable to chipmunks. Fencing in any holes around your home will make it more difficult for chipmunks to burrow around.
By claiming your land as your own, you’ll rule out the possibilities of other wildlife practicing their squatters rights.
Clear your yard of potential attractants, target multiple chipmunk senses, and make predator presence known to keep the chipmunks from ever chewing on your home and plants.
If you’re waiting for the chipmunks to start singing outside of your window to start your rise to fame, I hate to be the one to tell you that they’ll eat your entire garden and even some of the siding off your house before that ever happens.
Chipmunks hate the scent of garlic, peppermint, cedarwood, cinnamon, capsaicin and castor oil the most.
In addition, chipmunks can also be repelled by putrescent eggs, coffee grounds, apple cider vinegar, predator scents, blood meal, and owls.
If the chipmunks are just visiting and you haven’t noticed any damage to your home and garden, enjoy their cute cheeky presence.
However, over time the chipmunks will start visiting more frequently for longer periods, until they burrow around your home.
Periods of dry weather will increase these chipmunk visits until they start chewing up your leaves in search of moisture, or water.
Keep chipmunks away long-term by clearing your property of potential attractants and using a combination of repellents.
Barnes, T. G. (1999). Gardening for the birds. University Press of Kentucky.
Hayward, G. D., Hayward, P. H., & Garton, E. O. (1993). Ecology of boreal owls in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA. Wildlife Monographs, 3-59.
Pehling, D., & Barnes, T. G. (2012). Vertebrate pest management. Kentucky Master Gardener Manual, 289-298.
Taylor, J. B., Cass, K. L., Armond, D. N., Madsen, M. D., Pearson, D. E., & St. Clair, S. B. (2020). Deterring rodent seed‐predation using seed‐coating technologies. Restoration Ecology, 28(4), 927-936.
Traps, Q. S. M. (2015). Featured Products.
Williams, D. E., & Corrigan, R. M. (1994). Damage Prevention and Control Methods. Cooperative Extension Division. Institute of Agriculture and
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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