Have you got a chipmunk running loose in your house? Personally, I think the little guys are cute as heck but I wouldn’t want them running around in my home unsupervised. The last thing I want is for them to start digging burrows in my sofa!
Chipmunks may occasionally find their way into homes and you should know how to catch a chipmunk in your house without making it look like there was a tornado. So, what should you do if there is a stray chipmunk hiding in your house?
How to Catch a Chipmunk
Do not try to catch and grab the chipmunk with your bare hands. I made that mistake when I was a kid. I had a pet chipmunk that got loose in my room and, after a short chase, I grabbed it. The chipmunk panicked and then I panicked. I ended up with a bit finger and the chipmunk ended up squished. Neither one of us had a good day.
If you ignore that advice and get bit yourself then don’t worry too much as chipmunks generally do not carry rabies.
The Shoe Box Method
If you can see the chipmunk then the safest way (for both of you) to catch him is with a shoe box. It might take you a minute to work the little guy into a corner but once you do it is pretty easy to scoop them up with a shoe box and then quickly close the lid.
Obviously it doesn’t have to be a shoe box….any medium size box that is easy to handle and has a lid will work.
But what if you can’t see the chipmunk? What if it has burrowed away in between the sofa cushions or has found some other hiding hole?
In that case you will need to lure him out and catch him with a live trap.
Live Traps for Chipmunks
There are two great options for trapping a chipmunk without hurting the little guy. The first option is a Havahart cage trap and the second is a “bucket trap”.
Havahart Cage Trap For Chipmunks
The cage traps are really simple to operate. You simply set the door in the “up” position and add bait to the lever pad/trigger in the back of the trap. When the chipmunk trips the trigger the door closes behind him and he will be safely trapped and ready for relocation!
Bucket Style Traps
Bucket traps are really popular for catching rats and they work pretty well for chipmunks too. I mention the use of these traps for rats because some instructions say to fill the bucket halfway up with water to drown the rats when they fall in. If you use a bucket trap to catch a chipmunk then please do not fill it with water. We want to catch and release these guys, not kill them.
There are two main versions of bucket traps, the “Spinning Log” and “Walk the Plank”. While there are commercial versions of both styles the Spinning Log is the easiest to make yourself. Here is a video showing you how to put one of these together.
Best Bait for Chipmunk Traps
You have a lot more bait options when using the Havahart trap than you do with a Spinning Log bucket trap.
With the Spinning Log you need to use a bait that can be spread across the log and peanut butter is the “go to” choice. The problem with peanut butter is that it works great for rats, who are used to feeding on foods that humans eat, it is a bit of a foreign substance for most chipmunks and not all of them like it.
With the Havahart trap you can put set a variety of baits inside the cage. You can try sunflower seeds, peanuts, Cheerios and oats. You can also take advantage of the fact that the chipmunk probably doesn’t have a source of water in your house and is probably thirsty. You could place a small dish of water behind the trigger pad and he would be glad to have something to drink!
Since chipmunks and other squirrels are not nocturnal you will probably catch them during the day. You should check the trap every hour or so because once trapped the animal will start getting stressed.
What To Do After You’ve Caught The Chipmunk
You are going to have a stressed out little chipmunk on your hands so it is important that you don’t make things worse. Be calm and quiet and keep any pets away from the trap.
Gently lift the trap and quickly take it outside where the chipmunk can be safely released. To be on the safe side, wear gloves.
It is a good idea to release the chipmunk near some trees or bushes so it has protective cover from predators. The little guy might be a little stunned from his ordeal in the trap and might need to sit for a few minutes and recompose his wits.
How Did The Chipmunk Get In Your House?
Here is the most important part…
Figure out why and how the chipmunk got into your house in the first place!
Chipmunks are wild animals and it is not normal for them to seek refuge inside a house. Two things usually combine to get chipmunks to come inside:
- Something Attracts Them
- They Have Access
If you can remove either, or preferably both, of these situations then you should have any more chipmunk problems.
What Is Attracting The Chipmunks To Your House?
If you have a bunch of bird feeders really close to your house then the spilled seeds will easily attract chipmunks looking for an easy meal. Chipmunks love birdseed! Could you switch to bird feeders that have catch trays and don’t spill as much? Could you move the feeders further away from your house?
Do you have overgrown shrubbery around your house that provides wonderful shelter for chipmunks? You might want to trim the underbrush out and make the area less inviting.
Also, chipmunks will eat pet food. So, if you have an outdoor dog or cat with pet food available, you might want to keep this in mind. Fluffy’s cat food could be attracting chipmunks into your home!
How Are The Chipmunks Getting In?
If chipmunks got into your house then you probably have a few home repairs you ought to get started on. Look for holes in screens, gaps and cracks around your house etc.
This ought to be pretty easy…just walk around your house and look for any access points along the base. By easy I mean finding the openings…as far as fixing them you are on your own on that one….I hate home repair projects 🙂
If you still can’t figure out how to keep the chipmunks away, there are pest control commercial repellents available. You’ll find repellents for rodents but if you want specific chipmunk repellent (like sprays, lights and ultrasonic sounds), those are available also.
However, before you buy something expensive, try the countless homemade options that are already laying around your house!
Chipmunks rely on their sense of smell and if they run across a scent they don’t like, it can easily deter them.
“A non-toxic approach to keep chipmunks away is to sprinkle spicy powders like cayenne, chili powder, or other spicy, strong spices around the yard. Another good repellent to use is peppermint essential oil since chipmunks hate them.” (source)
Note: Chipmunks also don’t like garlic!