Why Do I Have Chipmunks In My Yard? [What Attracts Them?]

why do I have chipmunks in my yard

Some people love having chipmunks in their yards and enjoy watching their comical antics as they search for food and interact with other wildlife. Other people are infuriated by chipmunks in their yards. They are concerned that their plants may be damaged and other wildlife chased away. People often want to know why they have chipmunks in their yards; what attracts them to certain properties. 

Chipmunks are attracted to yards by easy access to food. This may be bird feeders, compost piles, chicken food, flowers, or fruit and nut trees, which can be found in many gardens. They seek out shelter and safe spaces which may be available in yards. Water availability is another attraction for chipmunks. Yards without pets are attractive.

To attract or discourage chipmunks from your yard, you must understand what attracts them in the first place. 

What Attracts Chipmunks To My Yard? 

Like any animal or person, chipmunks look for places that provide shelter, food, and water. These might be considered the pull factors that encourage a chipmunk to spend time in your yard.

Push factors are those that discourage chipmunks from spending time in other places. These include predators, busy roads, and a lack of food supply. 

Let’s take a closer look at these factors to help you understand what you can do to repel chipmunks. 

Chipmunks Are Attracted To Food Sources

Many people enjoy feeding birds. They put out bird feeders filled with seeds and fruit. Chipmunks are attracted to bird feeders, just like birds are. 

The pests do not differentiate food for birds and food for them. Instead, food is a precious commodity they eat and forage to build caches in their burrows throughout the year.  

Bird Food

Chipmunks are agile and may climb bird feeders to eat the homeowners’ offerings. 

This may infuriate homeowners, as the chipmunks compete with the birds for food. It is an impossible situation to avoid. If you do not want chipmunks, stop putting out a bird feeder. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to keep them away from them. These critters are extremely smart and will find a way to get to their food sources no matter what precautions you take. 

For example, some people try to stop the chipmunks from climbing up to the bird feeder by adding trays or platforms. Unfortunately, birds are messy eaters and drop seeds and pieces of fruit that chipmunks can gather from the ground. 

This access to food makes it worthwhile for the chipmunks to visit the garden.

Backyard Chickens

People who keep chickens may also find that chipmunks view chicken food as easy pickings. They may eat side by side companionably with the chickens. 

It is unlikely that chickens will be scared of chipmunks, but it will increase your chicken food bill. 

Hens are more likely to tolerate a chipmunk feeding from their bowls. 

Some territorial roosters may chase the chipmunks away. You can keep a rooster to chase chipmunks away. 

Unfortunately, this is not a guaranteed solution, and many cities and municipalities prohibit residents from keeping roosters due to municipal by-laws.

Pet Food

Dog and cat food left outside may also be attractive to chipmunks. These rodents may eat pet food as it is an excellent source of protein. 

Although many dogs and cats may chase chipmunks, some still think it is worth the risk and will take their chances. 

Keep your pets’ food inside to prevent chipmunks and other rodents from visiting your yard.  

Fruit And Nuts Attract Chipmunks 

If you grow fruit or nut trees or have a vegetable garden, your yard is the most popular in the neighborhood. Chipmunks only see a fantastic array of food, not the gardener’s hard work. 

It is often frustrating to gardeners as their plants are damaged, and chipmunks steal fruit. 

You can try netting your vegetable garden to stop chipmunks, but they will likely chew through the netting. 

Instead, consider getting a dog or cat to help keep them away. The best dogs are terriers, as they are alert and designed to hunt and catch small animals. 

Chipmunks Are Attracted To Water In Yards

Every living being needs water, and chipmunks are no different. Gardens usually offer some supply of good quality drinking water. This may be a pond or bird water bath, a dog water bowl, a leaking tap, or puddles from regular watering. 

Access to drinking water will always be attractive to chipmunks. You can limit water access by fixing leaks, but it is almost impossible to stop puddles from forming when you water plants. 

Pets need access to water throughout the day, so removing their water bowls from the yard is difficult. If your pets can enter the house freely, you can put their water bowls inside to discourage chipmunks. 

While all cats have a hunting instinct, some breeds, such as; Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Bengals, American Shorthair, etc., are known for their strong hunting instincts. 

Chipmunks Are Attracted To Shelter

Chipmunks build their homes in burrows. These can be pretty extensive, with many passages and chambers. They prefer a site that is quiet with limited dangers. 

This factor is especially important when raising babies that venture out of the burrow as they mature. 

A yard is considerably quieter than the street and may even be quieter than a park. Chipmunks will naturally gravitate to places where they feel safe. 

Some people try to discourage chipmunks by making noise and moving in their yards. This is difficult to sustain for an extended period and may make you unpopular with your neighbors. 

Some gardeners recommend planting or spreading garlic, chives, and onions around the garden, as these smells are often offensive to chipmunks. 

This method is unreliable, as chipmunks sometimes seek out these plants to self-medicate. 

Others recommend throwing out coffee grounds or cayenne pepper to discourage chipmunks. 

Some of these methods may work to repel chipmunks. Unfortunately, not all of them will. You can implement several methods to see which ones work for you. 

Predators Will Discourage Chipmunks From A Yard    

Predators in a yard will discourage chipmunks from living and foraging in a yard. Dogs and cats are domesticated predators that have varying levels of hunt drive. Some are devoted hunters, while others will watch the chipmunks run past their noses. 

Encouraging owls and other raptors to nest in your yard can help discourage chipmunks. One way to do this is by erecting an owl box in your yard.

If you live in the country outside of the city limits, you may be visited by weasels, foxes, and other predators. These predators will discourage chipmunks from your garden. Unfortunately, they are not a good idea if you have chickens. 

Squirrels may also discourage chipmunks as some are territorial and chase chipmunks. Others may hunt and eat chipmunks. 

Final Word

There may be several reasons you have chipmunks in your yard. The biggest factors are; water, food, and shelter. 

Chipmunks are attracted to areas where they can find these resources, so taking steps to remove or limit their access to them can help discourage them from taking up residence in your yard. 

Additionally, implementing deterrents such as fencing or natural predators like owls can help keep chipmunks at bay. 

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