How do I stop Eastern Chipmunks?
Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are cute little rodents who are common visitors to our backyards and neighborhoods. Eastern Chipmunks are a tan brown rodent with black and white striped markings. They are omnivores and eat a wide variety of foods including: nuts, acorns, seeds, mushrooms, fruits, berries, corn, insects, bird eggs, snails and small mammals. While they are very cute chipmunks can eat A LOT of bird food. Their cheeks have two long pouches which extend to their forearms and can hold a significant amount of food which they deposit in their burrows underground. Chipmunks can easily empty a bird feeder in a few hours making trips back and forth with their mouths full of food. The good news is that chipmunks cannot jump as far as squirrels and they hibernate in their underground burrows as soon as there is snow on the ground (they are back out as soon as the snow melts in the spring). Chipmunk bodies are designed for burrowing and mostly finding food on the ground. They can climb but typically stay closer to the ground. They are able to jump at least 3 feet and perhaps a bit further; however they legs are not designed in the same way as squirrels are and their bodies are not adapted for climbing to great heights or jumping far.
Chipmunks enjoy eating safflower seeds, are small enough to slip through most squirrel proof caging for feeders and light enough not to trigger squirrel proof bird feeders (they weigh the same amount as a bird). So the typically squirrel proofing tricks don’t always work for chipmunks. That being said never fear there are some ways you can keep chipmunks from accessing your feeders.
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Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Here are our 2 Rules for Keeping out Eastern Chipmunks:
1. Use Properly Sized, Metal Baffles on Tall Poles: The top of a pole baffle should be 5' above the ground to prevent jump-overs, and the pole itself must be 11' from anything sturdy enough (tree, fence, house, etc.) from which a squirrel or chipmunk could leap and gain access. If you want to prevent chipmunks from accessing squirrel proof bird feeders you can get away with a pole and baffle that is 7’ from any surrounding objects. The pole must also be tall enough so that all feeders stay above the top of the baffle. Most standard shepherd's crooks are not tall enough to achieve both of these rules. WBU's Advanced Pole System is and is an effective way to keep them away from feeders.
Our patented Advanced Pole System® (APS) is a revolutionary concept and the foundation for successfully attracting birds to your backyard. Comprised of interchangeable hardware pieces, the APS lets you select the setup that best suits the habitat in your own backyard and the birds you want to attract. To learn more about this product please visit the below links:
2. If a Feeder is Going to Hang in a Tree, a Large Overhead Baffle or Sky Café Feeder can do the trick; but only if it is broad enough to allow the feeder to tuck up under the edges, and is hung far enough out from the tree trunk or low limbs so as to prevent sideways jumps (at least 10 feet is recommended). Many times these baffles fail because too large of a feeder is placed under the baffle and squirrels learn to catch some part of the feeder as the fall/leap through the air. Feel free to bring your feeder to WBU Barrie so we can set you up with the proper baffle for your feeder.
WBU APS Raccoon Baffle: Having trouble with rascal chipmunks, squirrels or raccoons getting into your bird feeders? The long, cylindrical design of our Raccoon Baffle specializes in deterring raccoons, squirrels and chipmunks from reaching your feeders. This baffle can be mounted to fit our Advanced Pole System® (APS) and is available in a durable black powder-coated finish. The baffle collar needed to pole mount this item is included. Our Advanced Pole System® (APS) Raccoon Baffle comes in two sizes:
WBU APS Squirrel Baffle: Our Stackable Squirrel Baffles can make a good-looking Advanced Pole System® (APS) setup look great.Made of durable, powder-coated steel, these baffles feature a tapered design that is very effective in stopping squirrels and chipmunks before they reach your feeders. The baffle collar needed to pole mount this item is included. (Pole not included, but can be found here - Bird Feeder Pole Mounts).
Dimensions: 14" x 7" diameter
Squirrel-Away Baffle: The Squirrel-Away Baffle is as durable as it is beautiful. The Clear Squirrel-Away Baffle can attach to any hanging bird feeder to provide the high quality protection and weather proofing. It is made from 100% recycled Plexiglas and is 17" diameter.
WBU Squirrel Baffle: Our WBU Squirrel Baffle is 18” in diameter and protects a wide variety of bird feeders from squirrels. It also helps to shelter birds feeding from any inclement weather such as rain or snow It comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Sky Café Bird Feeder: The Sky Café Bird Feeder is a squirrel-proof bird feeder, referenced very highly in Bird Watcher's Digest and Bill Adler, Jr.'s book. Squirrels slide off the dome every time they try, and they do keep trying, again and again. Cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice, woodpeckers and many other songbirds gather on this circular, full-view patio. Cardinals, who are a bit shy about landing on narrow spots, are eager to land on this popular platform. It is made from 100% recycled Plexiglas with a large 17" diameter squirrel-proof dome protects seed from rain and snow as well. With its generous 24 cup capacity bucket, you'll spend less time filling and more time watching. Clear-view, easy-flow seed dispensing means bird’s peck at a seed and it falls out in front of them onto the tray for easy dining. The durable Plexiglas lasts for years and years. The Sky Café Bird Feeder comes with a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage. The A La Carte food divider is sold separately and allows for different types of foods to be fed at once.
3. Hot Pepper Options: In certain circumstances where other methods aren't effective WBU Hot Pepper Products may be the best option. When feeders and food are place in certain trees, on decks or near windowsills, it may be difficult to keep squirrels, raccoons and chipmunks away. In these situations, suets, cylinders or stackables with hot pepper may be a good solution. Only use products where the hot pepper is bound tightly in the product such as our WBU Hot Pepper Products. Approximately 90% of Eastern Gray Squirrels and Red Squirrels do not eat WBU Hot Pepper Products. If offered Hot Pepper Items must be the ONLY thing in a feeder (you can't mix it) and it must be protected from the elements so the hot pepper (capsaicin) is not washed off. So while that may not be 100% squirrel proof, it can be another extremely useful tool in squirrel management. WBU Hot Pepper Products may not be as effective when it comes to Eastern Chipmunks as they have fur-lined cheek pouches and this fur seems to act as a barrier to the effectiveness of the products. While many raccoons do not enjoy the Hot Pepper falvour, they are always interested in an easy meal and may continue to eat Hot Pepper Products. We recommend using safflower, baffles, cages and Squirrel Buster Feeders as primary way of deterring squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons as these options on their own or in combination can deter all three critters.
Our WBU Hot Pepper Product line includes suet, stackables and cylinders:
- WBU Hot Pepper No-melt Dough
- WBU Hot Pepper No-Melt Suet Dough Cylinder
- WBU Hot Pepper No-melt Suet Dough Stackable™
- WBU Hot Pepper Seed Stackable™
- WBU Hot Pepper Seed Cylinder
- Jim's Birdacious® Hot Pepper Bark Butter® Bits
Note: Items with hot pepper (capsaicin) cause a reaction in humans. If eyes, noses or lips are rubbed, then a reaction to hot pepper could range from mild to severe. Choose products where the hot pepper binds with the products (such as our WBU line of products) and make sure to take any necessary precautions when handling hot pepper foods and feeders where these products are used (including when it is time to refill and wash the feeder). Do not attempt to make hot pepper suet at home. Our WBU Hot Pepper No-melt Dough and our WBU Hot Pepper Cylinders have been specially formulated and tested to ensure it is safe for the birds. If you try making hot pepper deterrents at home it may not be safe for the birds or you!
Suet Feeders: Squirrels and chipmunks love suet! Especially if it contains nuts and seeds. While not squirrel or chipmunk proof upside down suet feeders can work to discourage squirrels and chipmunks. You will have to monitor the situation around an upside down suet feeder as they can chew through recycled plastic feeders and wooden feeders to access the suet. If you see a feeder being chewed take it down immediately and place it on a pole with a baffle. Try our WBU Hot Pepper No-melt Dough in a suet feeder and our WBU Hot Pepper Cylinders in a cylinder feeder! Many squirrels do not enjoy the spicy taste while birds don’t mind the flavor. WBU Hot Pepper products must be placed in a feeder that offers protection from the elements as the hot pepper oils can be washed away with rain, thus reducing their effectiveness.
WBU Hot Pepper No-melt Dough: Tired of squirrels and chipmunks eating all your suet? Hot Pepper No-melt Dough may be the perfect solution. Loaded with spicy red pepper that the squirrels dislike, this no-melt dough cake will keep your birds happy and your squirrels away. Hot Pepper No-melt Dough is available in a single cake and case of 12.
Ingredients: Corn, roasted peanuts, rendered beef suet, oats, pepper (red) and soy oil
No-melt Dough Cake Size: 11.75 Oz. (333 g)
WBU Hot Pepper No-Melt Suet Dough Cylinder: Our WBU Hot Pepper No-Melt Suet Dough Cylinder is the hot pepper version of our WBU Naturally Nuts™ No-Melt Suet Dough Cylinder in a cylinder form. Suet dough cylinders are a great way to attract a wide variety of perching birds including woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, etc. Loaded with spicy red pepper that the squirrels dislike, this no-melt dough cylinder will keep your birds happy and your squirrels away. Simply slide the Hot Pepper No-Melt Dough Cylinder in the WBU Suet Cylinder Feed
Our Hot Pepper No-Melt Suet Dough Cylinder is an easy, long-lasting way to offer a high-energy, high-fat food to your birds. Offering suet at a backyard feeding station is a great way to attract a wide variety of insect-eating birds. Birds that eat suet will still find natural food sources such as insects, insect eggs and grubs to get a well-rounded diet.
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, corn, rendered beef suet, oats and pepper (red)
Cylinder Size: 2 lbs. (907 g)
WBU Hot Pepper Seed Cylinder: Tree nuts, black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, peanuts and hot pepper. Loaded with spicy red pepper that the squirrels dislike, this cylinder will keep your birds happy and your squirrels away. Simply slide the Hot Pepper No-Melt Dough Cylinder in the WBU Seed Cylinder Feeder or
WBU Dinner Bell™ Feeder and enjoy. We recommend a feeder with a roof to keep the hot pepper from becoming diluted.
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, black oil sunflower, almonds, pecans, walnuts and pepper (red)
Cylinder Size: 2 lbs. (907g) and 4.5 lbs (2.04 kg)
WBU Hot Pepper Seed Stackable™: Our WBU Hot Pepper Seed Stackable is the stackable version of our WBU Hot Pepper Seed Cylinder. Tree nuts, black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, peanuts and hot pepper. Loaded with spicy red pepper that the squirrels dislike, this cylinder will keep your birds happy and your squirrels away. Simply slide the Hot Pepper Stackable in the WBU Seed Cylinder Feeder or WBU Dinner Bell™ Feeder and enjoy. We recommend a feeder with a roof to keep the hot pepper from becoming diluted.
Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, black oil sunflower, almonds, pecans, walnuts and pepper (red)
Cylinder Size: 8.6 Oz. (243 g).
WBU Hot Pepper No-melt Suet Dough Stackable™: Our WBU Hot Pepper No-Melt Suet Dough Stackable is the hot pepper version of our WBU Naturally Nuts™ No-Melt Suet Dough in Stackable form. Suet dough Stackables are a great way to attract a wide variety of perching birds including woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, etc. Loaded with spicy red pepper that the squirrels dislike, this no-melt dough cylinder will keep your birds happy and your squirrels away. Simply slide the Hot Pepper No-Melt Dough Stackable in the WBU Suet Cylinder Feeder, WBU Seed Cylinder Feeder or WBU Dinner Bell™ Feeder and enjoy. We recommend a feeder with a roof to keep the hot pepper from becoming diluted.
Our Hot Pepper No-Melt Suet Dough Stackable is an easy, long-lasting way to offer a high-energy, high-fat food to your birds. Offering suet at a backyard feeding station is a great way to attract a wide variety of insect-eating birds. Birds that eat suet will still find natural food sources such as insects, insect eggs and grubs to get a well-rounded diet.
Stackable Size: 14.5 Oz. (411 g)
Jim's Birdacious® Hot Pepper Bark Butter® Bits: Jim's Birdacious® Bark Butter® Bits are now available in a Hot Pepper version! These bite-sized nuggets are made of rendered beef suet, peanut oil, roasted peanuts, corn, oats and calcium carbonate and are loaded with spicy red pepper that the squirrels dislike allowing you to easily offer Bark Butter to attract a variety of birds, including many that do not normally visit feeders. They are particularly popular among birds during the nesting season when a Bark Butter® Bit can be carried by parent birds to feed to their young. We recommend a feeder with a roof to keep the hot pepper from becoming diluted.
Bag Size: 3.5 lbs. (1.58 kg)
A Few Other Options
WBU Finch Feeders: Because of their small feeding holes WBU Finch Feeders can help to deter chipmunks. Our WBU Finch Feeders have reinforced metal feed ports to discourage chipmunks chewing to make the holes on the feeder bigger. These feeders are not chipmunk or squirrel proof but many chipmunks don’t bother with Finch Feeders because of the difficulty accessing the food. If you observe a chipmunk chewing the holes of this feeder it will need to be moved away to a chipmunk proof place (pole and baffle).
WBU Finch Feeders: WBU EcoClean® and Quick-Clean® Finch Feeders, also called Nyjer® Feeders, are feeders designed specifically for finches and for finch food. Finch Tube Feeders differ from seed tube feeders in that the holes are small enough to accommodate finch beaks, preventing other birds, chipmunks and squirrels from feeding. Our WBU Finch Feeders accommodate Nyjer® seed and our finch blends. Many birds enjoy using WBU Finch Feeders including: American Goldfinches, House Finches, Purple Finches, Indigo Buntings, Pine Siskins, Redpolls and Black-capped Chickadees. The small holes on our WBU EcoClean® and Quick-Clean® Finch Feeders prevent squirrels from accessing the food.
Our WBU Finch Feeder Models which discourage squirrels and chipmunks include:
- WBU EcoClean® Medium Finch Tube Feeder
- WBU EcoClean® Small Finch Tube Feeder
- WBU Large Quick-Clean™ Finch Feeder
- WBU Medium Quick-Clean™ Finch Feeder
WBU EcoTough® Upside Down Suet Feeder: There are quite a few books and magazines that claim Starlings can't hang up-side down like the woodpeckers. Well, the starlings didn't read those articles and we'll be the first to say the WBU EcoTough® Upside Down Suet Feeder is not foolproof. However, the challenge of accessing food from only the bottom of this feeder may be enough to keep starlings from eating an entire suet cake in one sitting. So, if you don't care for the look of the cage style protectors above, this feeder may be helpful.
Dimensions: 10½” x 8” x 9”
Recycled Bark Butter Feeder Block: The Recycled Bark Butter Feeder Block is designed to fit into any standard sized suet feeder. It offers the option to feed our spreadable Jim's Birdacious® Bark Butter®; in an existing suet feeder. Jim's Birdacious® Bark Butter® won’t melt and can be kept our year round for woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees as well as 135 different species of birds and counting. Simply smear Jim's Birdacious® Bark Butter®using a fork in the Recycled Bark Butter Feeder Block’s eight compartments and watch as the birds enjoy this tasty treat! Using the Starling Stumper you could also feed Bark Butter upside down to avoid pesky birds such as European Starlings and Common Grackles. Read this article about upside down suet feeding in the Nature Notes Blog for more inspiration: http://naturenotesblog.blogspot.ca/2014/05/diy-upsidedown-suet-feeder.html
Dimensions: 4½” L x 1¼” W x 4½” H
Starling Stumper: The Starling Stumper is an easy way to help keep starlings and blackbirds out of your suet feeder. The Starling Stumper features a center hanger attached to three 6" chains. Snaps on the ends of the chains secure the Starling Stumper to your feeder. The two small snaps attach to corners of a WBU Suet Feeder and a third swivel snap keeps the door closed and provides access to the food for easy refilling. Leave plastic container from your WBU Suet Cakes on the food and place it in cage with suet facing down. The woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and other suet eating birds can cling from the bottom and feed upside down; but the larger blackbirds and starlings are more uncomfortable feeding this way. The Starling Stumper will work with most sizes and shapes of suet cages. Read this article about upside down suet feeding in the Nature Notes Blog for more inspiration: http://naturenotesblog.blogspot.ca/2014/05/diy-upsidedown-suet-feeder.html
Large Tray Hanger: The Large Tray Hanger is a chain hanger that can be attached to wooden trays using eye-screws (not included) or a WBU Suet Feeder to flip upside down as a blackbird deterrent. The hanger comes complete with 4 chains 13” long. The Large Tray Hanger comes complete with a center hanger and snaps on for easy assembly to trays. Leave plastic container from your WBU Suet Cakes on the food and place it in the feeder with suet facing down. The woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and other suet eating birds can cling from the bottom and feed upside down; but the larger blackbirds and starlings are more uncomfortable feeding this way. The Large Tray Hanger will work with most sizes and shapes of suet cages. Read this article about upside down suet feeding in the Nature Notes Blog for more inspiration: http://naturenotesblog.blogspot.ca/2014/05/diy-upsidedown-suet-feeder.html
NOTE: In the Province of Ontario, chipmunks can be trapped and relocated 1 kilometer from where you trapped them. They can easily travel that 1 kilometer distance back to your house. Moving your chipmunks also makes room for more chipmunks to enter the habitat, with one gone its neighbour will move in. So the most effective way to deal with chipmunks is to accept that they are a part of your yard and invest in a good pole system and baffle. Putting a feeder out just for chipmunks will not do much to distract them from your other bird feeders it may simply attract more to your home.