Solutions to pesky chipmunk problems available

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | 12:01 AM


I own a beagle named Dozer. He’s a great dog — loyal and friendly. But, he’s lazy and not real sharp. Dozer doesn’t play fetch or do tricks and, despite his award-winning pedigree, Dozer is no hunter. Except, that is, when it comes to chipmunks a.k.a. “chippys” or “grinnies.”

There’s something about those striped little devils that Dozer loves, and he will stop at nothing to try to catch one. Over the past month, he has pulled apart my firewood stack, excavated the pea gravel around my patio and dug up my mulch beds all in an effort to get a taste of some chipmunk fur.

At the end of the day, the chipmunks put up with some obnoxious baying from the throat of the floppy-eared hound until he goes away, and then it’s business as usual. Dozer, despite his best efforts, is 0 for 23 on chippys.

In defense of my thick-headed hound, chipmunks are smart and very elusive. They burrow, climb and run like the wind. Thanks to their slight build and natural camouflage, they can hold tight and disappear in virtual plain sight, a skill which serves them well in my woodpile.

In my case, it’s Dozer who is wreaking havoc on my property. The chipmunks are a benign and quite natural resident of my feral backyard. They do no harm. For some homeowners, though, chipmunks are more like pint-sized hoodlums vandalizing stone walls and flower gardens, pirating expensive bird seed and even munching on their coveted tomatoes. For those folks, removing chipmunks from their property doesn’t just make sense, it’s a necessity.

There are bunches of ways to get rid of grinnies, including introducing a predator like Dozer, whose efficiency is based solely on a chipmunks ability to withstand some verbal harassment. Other, more effective methods like snap traps are humane and fairly popular, while some are downright revolting and won’t get any of my ink.

Removing chipmunks is a fairly easy process and does not have to be lethal. Live traps are a wonderful alternative to the deadly, and despite the relatively high upfront cost, they are infinitely re-usable.

Baiting the trap is as simple as preparing a snack — a little peanut butter on a cracker with a nice visual attractant like a peanut, pistachio or sunflower seed on top. Place the trap in the chipmunk-infested area in a way in which the rodent feels safe going in. Try nesting the trap between two shrubs or along the comfortable, shaded perimeter of a flower garden.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, unlike apex rabies animals like raccoons and skunks, live chipmunks may be released to a natural setting away from your home.

Remember, chipmunks are smart, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch them all right away. Even poor Dozer — decidedly not smart — who has never so-much-as touched the tail of a chipmunk, never gives up.

Ed Pfeifer is a Tribune-Review freelance columnist and owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc. If you have hardware-related questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.