Eastern chipmunk in spring

Eastern chipmunk in spring

With Spring comes the welcome return of the great outdoors.  Robins are back, grills are being fired up, and neighbors are once again active up and down the street.  Unfortunately one other little neighbor is coming out of hibernation as well – chipmunks.

Chipmunk damage

Chipmunk damage to a home’s front steps

The fuzzy little critters have been captured in Disney movies and cartoons for years, and they are often fun to watch as they scurry around the yard in hot pursuit of each other.  But many homeowners can tell you that they bring more harm than good to your backyard Eden.

Chipmunks are voracious eaters, attacking bulbs and seedlings and ravaging bird feeders until they hang empty.  More serious destruction can happen around the foundation of your home.  As chipmunks burrow to establish their underground pathways, they loosen and remove foundation materials underneath service walks and front stoops.   As seen in this photo, when enough material is removed, the void created beneath structures can cause sagging and eventual collapse.  So, while chipmunks can be a definite nuisance around your landscape, they turn downright damaging and costly when they start to affect your home.  Gravel foundations for walks and steps can be surrounded by wire fencing in order to prevent rodents from burrowing through the material.

A small cute chipmunk with thick cheeks stands and eats sunflower seeds

Chipmunks will eat their fill of everything from birdseed to garden bulbs

The best prevention is to simply be aware of the conditions around your home and watch for any new or increasing chipmunk activity.  That way, while many homeowners are able to tolerate a certain amount of activity around their home, a severe problem can be caught in the early stages before it results in costly damage.