Why Do Gardeners Hate Chipmunks?


Chipmunks really are cute, and there is no denying that the squirt of the squirrel kingdom is just da bomb. For a common garden critter, there is almost none cuter. Skittish by nature, they are not the easiest critter to capture by camera. But they are not that hard to capture by trap I hear. A little too curious for their own good.


A friend of mine captures them from her garden and takes them to the park. Since I lost my little friend Chipper to a harrowing, marauding hawk a while back, I asked to have one of her jailed chipmunks.

So I got Chipper 2 delivered to my garden. But it has been two weeks now and no sighting of Chipper 2. Maybe he is busy in my garden making just accommodations or he packed his bags and headed back to Lewiston and his large extended family.


Chipmunks get a bad rap in gardens, digging burrows, snacking on bulbs and noshing on bird eggs. I have a lot of bulbs in my garden, but many are not to the chipmunk’s liking. I hope Chipper 2 is still here because I can guarantee him food and board.

My cousin has 26 acres of mountain woodland and has chipmunks galore. My heaven. In PA I lived on the same mountain as my cousin just a stone’s throw away on three acres of woodland property. You can see it in the linked post. There was a paradise of woodland creatures that I saw daily.

But back to chipmunks. My cousin wanted to blow the heads off the little guys because there were so many on her property. She could not plant a garden because they ate the blooms and dug up the bulbs. Her bird feeders were invaded and emptied by them. Chipmunks were coming out from everywhere.


I told her of my plan to add them to my garden and she was mortified. She said they were evil. And this coming from a person having the most beautiful certified wildlife garden around! She really would not hurt any living creature, yet these guys have pushed her buttons.


The chipmunks on the other hand, got along beautifully with other critters in the garden, foraging peacefully, side by side.


Now if only they would stick to finding drain pipes to live rather than digging tunnels all over, I bet she would be a bit happier to have them around.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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71 Responses to Why Do Gardeners Hate Chipmunks?

  1. Awwww…. they do sound like a menace! Maybe one could build a whole drain pipe city underground to keep them pleased so that they don’t go on ‘decorating’ the garden too!
    …and they really are so cute!

    • They can be a menace in the same way as squirrels and rabbits. My cousin also does not like the squirrels or rabbits either. That really is a disadvantage of living in the woods if you do not like sharing with the critters.

  2. I think chipmunks are adorable. However, they are extremely destructive and have cost us thousands of dollars. They tunnel through stone walls causing water to flow through and the walls to fall down. We just got done fixing one of our eight foot tall stone walls that they destroyed, very expensive.

    • That is a new one to me. My company has hired masonry contractors to repair large stone retaining walls on client properties, some 10 feet high like your wall. It was always the freeze thaw of winter on a wall that did not have proper water drainage that caused them to be undermined, never animals chewing through stone and mortar. I would think the opportunist chipmunks only utilized a hole that water created first. I have to look out for them doing this kind of damage.

      • These walls are unmortared. They made tunnels behind the walls that allowed the water to run through and cause extensive damage.

        • Makes more sense, but a dry stack 8 foot field stone wall is a very big wall. Readers should know so they don’t build walls this tall themselves, most homemade unmortared walls are less than 3 foot high – many times codes will specify only 2 feet tall maximum. A dry stack stone wall relies on gravity to secure the bank and the rock has to weigh enough to counteract the force of the dirt pushing on it.This makes for huge rocks and very thick walls. They need engineering also because different soils have different applications. So does how a wall is battered back on what degree. Drainage is still important although in dry stack walls you often see the water directed out the front by small pipe. Other times it comes through the wall, but that leaves staining and instability.

  3. long ago in my ‘other life,’ we had a problem with rabbits; instead of planting one flat of pansies, i’d buy three or four so that there were enough for the rabbits and for me!

    if we’d have had chipmunks, i would have welcomed them as well, even if they did eat the dutch iris!

    i loved your photos! the chpmunks are so precious!

    • Thank you Z. My garden is planted over flowing for the critters too. I lose a lot of tulip blooms to rabbits and squirrels. After other plants bloom, they let the tulips alone. Some animal loves to behead the poppies. Each year I rarely see a poppy make it to opening. I have dutch iris, so I will be looking for their elimination too.

  4. hmmmm…. a case has been made against them but I think they will prevail 😉
    Hope Chipper 2 returns.
    Your SIL reminds me of my mama who was going to shoot at the squirrels with a pellet gun.
    Oh dear =:-0

    • I think Chipper 2 went to the Niagara Gorge. It is only a half block away and a place where chipmunks run free and happy. He will be missing the open buffet of daily seed though. He should have checked out the local restaurant before leaving.

  5. Wonderful post. I just love your post. They’re so refreshing. My granddaughter sent me a photo of a chipmunk eating from her hand in Estes Park, Co. It’s the first time she had ever seen one. Thank you!!!

  6. acuriousgal says:

    I love these little guys, of course they are not in my garden though

  7. Phil Lanoue says:

    Chipmunks are the cutest animal on the face of the earth. These are terrific photos of these cuties!

  8. Victor Ho says:

    Great shots. I had a friend equally incensed about damage the chipmunks did. He had access to weapons. Fortunately he also had some common sense.

  9. dear donna…what a heartwarming post this is…your love for god’s creatures not only shines in your face but it shows what a gentle heart that you have…we have very few chipmunks where we live but when i looked after an elderly lady in the country, i saw those little fellows scurrying all over the place…when i saw your close up pictures here, i just never knew what beautiful brown eyes they have!…
    i can’t imagine looking into those big brown eyes with a pellet gun aimed at them..in welland it is illegal to kill squirrels…..they ARE little monsters though, they and the bunnies…they always every year chew off the tulips…this year we did save a few tulips though…bernie bought some talcum powder from the dollar store and sprinkled the tulips with it……it kept the bunnies and the squirrels away… we must of had a dozen tulips!…ha!…we wouldn’t even think of hurting the little guys but trust me, we won’t leave peanuts out for them!
    the photo of the chipmunk and the blue jay is just choice…too bad people wouldn’t get along like that!
    i don’t know if i ever told you donna, but one time when we lived in another house, we used to feed the squirrels and the birds and we had a whole line of bowls out to feed the stray cats of the neighbourhood….one day when i got home, there in the back yard were squirrels eating peanuts and the birds were peacefully eating seed from the feeder and there were three of the cats just laying there and not even bothering the birds or the squirrels..i wished i had had my camera on me because alas!…who would even believe a story like that?!….i think the reason that they were all getting along is because we fed them all and they just thought that they were “family”!!

    such a great post as usual dear donna!….love terry

    • Teresa, I lose many tulips to squirrels and rabbits here. It is just the price we pay for encouraging the wildlife. The squirrels frustrate me often and I still feed them too. My neighbors feed and house the stray cats. That is one animal I do wish did not live in the neighborhood. They kill a lot of other animals and not to eat them either. Being fed kibble, they kill for entertainment. We never have to worry about rats and mice, except to pick up the dead left in the garden. Your story of the cats and birds getting along is cute, but that never played out here. Our city cats are ruthless. I took in two of them in two winters. I still have them after 23 and 12 years. I am not a cat person, but felt so sorry for them in the ice and snow, year after year.

  10. Love the photos! They are so cute…

  11. From what you have to say about chipmunks, I think I’ll enjoy them in your garden.

    • I am sure other gardeners would have more damage to report. I never had any from Chipper, but if he had friends, I would not have been as happy to welcome him. I learned that with squirrels. When Gilbert the squirrel was the only only one to visit, he was very welcomed. It was after he was dethroned and all the neighborhood squirrels arrived I was far less happy for his presence.

  12. Kevin says:

    Hi Donna. They are adorable — and much of what you write about reminds me of the hate relationship my father has with squirrels. They just happen to love his fruit trees as much as he does. I just like watching them go about their business — except when they nip off the bid of a perfectly good tulip.

    • Squirrels are a much bigger problem as are deer. In the city, squirrels are everywhere. Luckily deer are not here yet. Only a half a block away there are fox and deer through the woods at the Niagara Gorge. So maybe one day a deer will show up. We get raccoon, skunk and possum, so why not deer?

      • Kevin says:

        That reminds me of a story from a few years ago. I was on Long Island — suburban sprawl and dwindling wooded areas — when a new police precinct was under construction in what had once been a thickly wooded piece of land. After a whole bunch of trees were cut and removed to prep the space for the structure — a giant male deer emerged from the woods and stopped traffic in a busy intersection. I’m not sure where he ran off to — but as amazing as the sight was, it was just as sad that natural habitats are being swallowed up.

  13. Debra says:

    I like chipmunks though we don’t have any here as far as I know. I -love- your old house! I once read a book about alternative housing built around Woodstock in the early 70s and it really captured my imagination. I wish so much we could have more of that kind of diversity in houses.

  14. My Heartsong says:

    When I was a kid we used to feed them nuts at the cottage and of course we were thrilled to get so close.Like a lot of critters, they are really cute until you get too many of them. This is my year for the chipmunk, have discovered a couple of them during my walks along the trails, and getting shots of them for the first time, too.Liked the warmth of your photos and hope your friend has chosen to stay or comes back for dinner.

  15. Wonderful pictures. I don’t want the little guy in my garden though.

    • Most don’t. One is not a problem, but many would be. 😀

      • Aren’t they like gremlins and multiply overnight? ; )

        • Must be. My friend caught four yesterday, only an hour apart from each other. She sets the trap empty, no food, and the little guys just go inside. Talk about a dumb animal. No reward and snap. That or they heard it was a free ticket out of there and off to the big beautiful park on the bus ride to paradise. Chipper 2 must have thought my yard was too tiny and headed to the gorge.

          • Or Chipper is Chipette and currently nursing 10 or 12 more chippers and chipettes?

            • My friend checks them I believe. She would not send a nursing female off no matter how many chipmunks she has. Everyday she have been taking them to parks. Someone told her if she does not take them more than 15 miles, they return. I would have my doubts on that one. It would probably take a year for those tiny legs to travel 15 miles or more. 😀

  16. A.M.B. says:

    Yes, chipmunks are adorable! I notice them in the yard, but they don’t frustrate me the way the groundhogs and the deer do. We actually love our deer, but the groundhogs are another story. Not only do they eat everything we plant, but they also dig sizable tunnels all over the yard (quite a hazard!).

    • I was at Chanticleer one time (early before they opened) and the groundskeepers were on groundhog hunt (traps, not artillery fire). Groundhogs are a big problem for public gardens, because as you mentioned, they munch down just about anything the pops out of the ground, not to mention destroying from below too.

  17. I don’t hate chipmunks, but that could be because there are not that many around here. It does bother me that they eat birds’ eggs, though.

    • It does not bother me because so many creatures eat bird eggs. Mammals you might not suspect are deer, elk, coyote, mice, weasels, fox, squirrels, and a host of other animals that are opportunistic coming across an easy, nutritious and accessible meal. And many birds eat other species of bird eggs and nestlings too. It is just nature. What about owls, they even eat chipmunks, along with the hawks, weasels, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, bobcats, lynxes, cats, dogs, snakes, and squirrels snacking on chipmunks too. It is hard for us to relate to the predatory nature of animals being the one doing most of the harm to them since we eat many ourselves. I guess if we had to watch our backs…

      • Well, I don’t have any problem with owls eating chipmunks, they’re welcome to it as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t bother me on a moral basis, it’s just that I like having more songbirds around, so anything that reduces the songbird population is not a positive thing in my view. Although I don’t mind raptors eating other birds.

  18. chevaliascookingwithnature says:

    I love Chipmunks, and have have lots of them around my house, to keep them out of my garden I have bird feeders in my yard away from my garden keeps the birds and critters happy and I’m happy.

    • Good plan, but I like seeing the bird variety so my feeders are close. I have no choice here though, the yard being so small. In the country, I would still have feeders close to where I could view them.

  19. I’ll trade your one chipmunk for thirteen rabbits.

    • Nope! Our neighborhood is over run with rabbits. They are cute, but they girdle trees and I lost an expensive and large laceleaf Japanese maple from there chewing one SUMMER! They are not supposed to be doing that in summer.

      • What if I threw in a copy of the “Pat the Bunny” book and a life-size poster of Mr. McGregor?

        Actually I’m glad you said “Nope”! Have you ever tried catching these darlings? I think I’ve tried everything – one night I sat with a net in the backyard as my VCR played Bugs Bunny cartoons.

  20. igardendaily says:

    Well, I must say they are cute, especially the way you photograph them! Great photos again! I don’t have much experience with them as what we would call “tree squirrels” in our area have not made it out to my neighborhood yet. They reside in the well-developed areas of Boise where there are lots of big trees but the newer areas (without many large trees) do not have these types of squirrels. I’m sure they will stake new territory (just like people) as the habitat becomes inviting!

    • Thank you. In the forest those little guys are speedy and it is harder to get a photo. Oh do I have squirrels for you. Free to good homes. Can I interest you in the more exotic style squirrel? It is black and shiny.

  21. For some reason, I have a softer place in my heart for chipmunks than for rabbits. Don’t ask me why. Maybe because they don’t eat plants down to the stump in one evil chomp. They do dig like crazy and overturn plants, but lava rocks help, as well as marigolds and marigold seed heads. I prefer not to have as many as your sister has, but a few are fun to have around. Plus, they’re so fun to watch!

    • My cousin is overrun with them no doubt, but there is absolutely nothing she could ever do about it because of where she lives. When I lived there, and had all that stone walled landscaping, chipmunks were very plentiful. I just never noticed the damage like she does.

  22. catmint says:

    Such cute critters. Your chipmunks are the equivalent to possums here. Passionately loved and hated. They don’t dig though, just eat. The problem is whenever there are too many of one species on a site that can’t support them.

  23. Patty says:

    I have two chipmunks that live in my garden and I would not trade them in for anything. Yes i find holes in the garden, the occasional dead head (could be the rabbits too), but they are charming and fun to watch. Your first photo of chipmunk with flowering moss is great – it reminded me that I forgot to take photos of my flowering mosses.

  24. But they are so cute!

  25. Zooperson says:

    More excellent photos from you on another critter., but your old home…..now that is a real beauty! It must have been a fine place to call home. I am a big fan of “Wrightish” design.

  26. debsgarden says:

    Chipmunks are very cute, but you better hope that your chipmunk remains single! Once those babies arrive and begin to reproduce, they are not so cute. They have punctured holes throughout my lawn and garden. But maybe I should not complain, as they have installed a free drainage system for me!

    • I can’t seem to interest a chipmunk in making my garden home. After Chipper was carried away screaming like a banshee and kicking up a storm, I was almost as mortified as him – seeing it happen. I will never forget those little legs kicking in the air, dangling from the talons of a Red-tailed hawk. It is why I want one back. It was like losing a friend. He was not tame, yet did not fear me that much either. He lived in my garage. I set out a PVC pipe for Chipper 2 thinking it would be a good place to hide. I have garter snakes here and I hope they cannot swallow a chipmunk with those tiny mouths. I had another chipmunk delivered and Chipper 2+1 is now gone. I doubt a cat got them, but I did find a headless sparrow this morning. I really don’t like city cats. To tell you the truth, living so close to the Niagara Gorge, chipmunks would be foolish living here in my garden. The food would be great, but the constant fear of predators, not so much.

  27. Denise says:

    The chipmunk is adorable. I hope he will return to your garden or visit now and then.

  28. bittster says:

    Beautiful pictures as usual, I can’t believe what sharp focus you can achieve on these fast little buggers!
    We used to have more chipmunks, and I thought they were awfully cute and Disneysque, but then one afternoon I came out onto the porch and found a nestful of bloody field sparrow fledglings and a chipmunk with his teeth in the throat of the last baby. Like a little wolf he dragged the bodies off…. but only after I scolded him and threw a couple stones his way. Not quite as cute as when they nibble peanuts under the feeder.

    • I did read they are like squirrels and take nestlings. That would make me view them differently for sure. I wonder why they take birds though? I know nursing squirrels need calcium and will gnaw on deer antlers, maybe the bones are what they like. They don’t seem like meat eaters, but eating eggs would sort of be the same. Your story makes me shiver. Now I will see a little wolf face next chipmunk I see.

      • bittster says:

        Sorry. That wasn’t my plan. Nature always makes for a nice visit, but I’m glad we’re not out there all the time. The food chain looks much nicer with arrows on paper rather than a front row seat.

  29. I am one of the gardeners who absolutely love them…we see them occasionally here but I have not had damage here…here I hate the voles. At our old house we had many more and they did little to no damage…but they certainly let me know if they did not want me to come into the back garden when they were out. I hope Chipper 2 makes a home with you!

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