Living With Wildlife

Living With Chipmunks & Ground Squirrels

This page provides problem-solving advice and ways to make your yard less attractive to chipmunks and ground squirrels in the first place.

For more information on these small mammals, including what they look like, what they eat and where they live in the forest preserves, visit the main chipmunks and ground squirrels page.

 

Dens

The best way to prevent ground squirrels and chipmunks from establishing dens in your yard is to keep them out of attractive areas in the first place. Use welded wire to block access to crawl spaces and areas under decks, sheds, patios and porches.

If an animal has already established a den, try the techniques below, preferably two or three at the same time. After a few days, pack crumpled newspaper into the entrance. If the animal is still there, it will pull the paper out. If the paper stays in place for a few days, repair any openings.

  • Place flashlights, flood lamps, blinking holiday lights or a constantly noisy device such as a radio, alarm clock or toy in the den. Leave them on day and night — or at least at night to disturb the animal’s sleep.
  • Place ammonia-soaked rags in the den for one week. Resoak the rags daily, and pack crumpled newspaper in the entrance to hold in the fumes. Never use ammonia between March and August; it can harm infants too young to escape.

 

How to Make Your Yard Less Attractive

  • Never feed chipmunks or ground squirrels.
  • Keep the ground below bird feeders and fruit trees clean.
  • Place inflated beach balls in your yard, and let them blow around to frighten the animals. Scarecrows, plastic bags on sticks and other objects that move in the wind can also work.
  • Spray plants with a mixture of 1 gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce or garlic puree. Reapply after a heavy dew or rain.
  • To protect new bulbs, pick up any loose skins, and spread a thick layer of mulch over the ground. Lay chicken wire on top, and place a light layer of mulch or leaves over the wire. Remove the wire in the spring.
  • Plant distasteful daffodil, squill, grape hyacinth and crown imperial bulbs among tulips and other tastier varieties. (Crown imperial bulbs have a horrible smell, too.)

 

What You Should Never Do

  • Trapping and removing an animal is not always the solution to the problem. Removing the animal is illegal without the proper permits and only creates an open space for another animal to inhabit. A trapped adult may also leave young behind to die of starvation. Focus on removing the attraction, not the animal.
  • Never move young from a den.
  • Never use poisons. They’re inhumane and may be illegal. They can also result in secondary poisoning of other wild animals or pets.
  • It’s illegal to keep wild animals, even for a short time. They have special nutritional, housing and handling needs, and inexperienced individuals who try to raise or treat them inevitably produce unhealthy, tame animals that can’t survive in the wild.

 

Public Health Concerns

Neither chipmunks nor ground squirrels are public health concerns.