Closely related to squirrels, chipmunks stick mainly to the ground and dig burrows for food storage and shelter. The small rodents can climb trees and over structures like fences, which leads to conflict between the animals and property owners. Controlling chipmunk populations is of great importance because their numbers increase rapidly and they can perpetrate severe damage to building structures and vegetation.
Small creatures, chipmunks measure about 8 inches (20 cm) long and weigh no more than a few ounces. They are covered in fur, most of which is brown in color, and have prominently featured stripes that appear black, white, and tan. Chipmunks also possess white underbellies and cheeks capable of storing large amounts of food or dirt.
Most chipmunk species are native to North America. While woodlands are a favored nesting location, the small, elusive critters are often also seen darting from cover to cover in suburban and rural environments. Chipmunk burrows are usually situated near small shrubs or manmade structures, which provide ample cover. Regions with cold winters drive the rodents underground until warmer weather returns. Until then, chipmunks feed on the stored food they gathered throughout the previous warm months.
Though occasionally spotted inside buildings, the rodents prefer outdoor environments. Chipmunks need things like shrubs and bushes, which provide them with cover, that cannot typically be found inside homes. Their favored food sources, like seeds, nuts, vegetables, carrion, and small amphibians, attract the animals to lawns, though. Uncovered pet food also serves as a viable food option for hungry chipmunks and may lead them onto private property.
Chipmunks are considered pests because they eat flower bulbs, dig for seeds, and consume various vegetables found on lawns and in gardens. Additionally, if their numbers are left unchecked, chipmunks can damage structures with their burrowing habits. Foundations, patios, and sidewalks are at elevated risk during infestations. The rodents are also known to steal bird eggs, which can negatively impact local bird populations.