Identifying Signs of These Garden Visitors and Why It Matters
Chipmunks are a type of very cute looking, small ground squirrel. These brown rodents generally only grow to be around five or six inches long and usually weigh no more than three ounces.
Despite their small size, and their cuteness, they can become a bit of a pest in your garden or around your yard, but maybe not as much as other similar sized rodents. Learning how to tell if its chipmunk poop in your garden or something else, can help you determine what action to take.
Given their size and behaviour, chipmunk poop is unlikely to make a mess of your yard, but it can highlight the presence of these rodents which can present other problems for your property.
As chipmunks have strong teeth like other rodents, they will chew on any hard surfaces they come across, such as wood walls, plastic items, insulation around electrical wires and potentially house siding. So finding their poop could be an indication that you need to take action.
What Does Chipmunk Poop Look Like?
Chipmunk droppings are usually around 1/2 an inch long, but can range upward towards 3/4 of an inch. They’re also typically a dark shade of brown or black, they are firm and keep their shape and have a strong smell. They are elongated, looking more like tiny stools than the pellets they are. These tiny poops are often compared in size and shape to a large grain of rice, with pointy ends.
Chipmunk poop is small and usually contains seeds or other plant material. They can also have a slightly glistening appearance due to the oils produced by these animals’ digestive systems. If you see small, dark droppings in your garden, there’s a chance they’re from a chipmunk, but it is more likely they are from another type of rodent.
It’s unlikely for a chipmunk to poop frequently in your garden, and if you do find some of their scat, it is unlikely to be in any sizable quantity, other than a few rogue droppings here or there.
Is Chipmunk Poop Similar To Other Animals?
Chipmunk poop is similar to rat and mouse droppings, and can be hard to tell apart from these other types of scat. At first glance the poop could be from any small rodent, but there are ways to tell.
Mouse poop for example, is generally smaller and lighter in color than chipmunk poop, around 1/4 inch long. If a chipmunk poop is like a long grain of rice, a mouse dropping would be more akin to a short grain or like a grain of ‘bomba’ rice. Mouse droppings are more of a broader pellet shape than chipmunk poop.
Rat droppings on the other hand are more similar in shape to a chipmunk dropping, but are thicker and often longer and pointier at both ends. A rat poop is also always close to black in color, often with a shiny, ‘waxy’ appearance. They are usually around 3/4 of an inch long.
Chipmunk poop also looks similar to the droppings of other types of squirrel too, in size and shape. However, squirrel poops are usually a different color, and get lighter as they age.
How To Tell If Its Chipmunk Poop In Your Garden
It would be very hard to spot chipmunk droppings on a lawn or in verges, given their miniscule size and shape. But they are more likely to be spotted on paved areas, decking or patios where there is some contrast to the color and less camouflage.
On first inspection it will be difficult to tell which type of rodent the dropping is from. But once the poop is spotted, closer inspection of the size and shape will help to determine the culprit.
To be sure that it is a chipmunk and not a mouse for example, you can leave the sample for a few days to see if it turns brittle or changes color. If it turns lighter, it might be from a squirrel, if it stays the same consistency a mouse, and if it turns brittle it may well be from a chipmunk.
If you’re still not entirely sure what the droppings are, you can take a sample to your local garden center or contact your local wildlife control agency for identification.
It’s also worth noting that chipmunks are notorious for hoarding food and stashing it away in various places. If you happen to find a pile of droppings with bits of nuts, berries or other pieces of food, it might be from these rodents.
If you find any type of rodent poop around your property, you might want to check that your food store cupboards are secure, and any feed sacks are also clear. It’s likely that any poop you do find will be around areas of rodent activity, and this is likely to be where there is access to food.
How To Spot A Chipmunk Hole Or Burrow
Chipmunks are burrowing animals and if you have a chipmunk problem, the best way to get rid of them is to locate their burrow and seal it off. But spotting a chipmunk burrow is sometimes easier said than done. They are not like badger holes, rabbit burrows or gopher holes, where you might spot clear signs of burrowing and piles of upturned soil.
The burrow of a chipmunk, though extensive underground, will usually only have openings that are flat to the ground, and a little over two inches in diameter. There are usually more than one opening, especially if it is a mature burrow or a nesting burrow rather than just a ‘shelter’ burrow.
Chipmunks are attracted to gardens that have a lot of flowers and vegetables, so check your garden for signs of digging or foraging. They like to dig out their burrows next to and under cover. This includes man-made cover, such as sheds, outhouses, trees and woodstores. They might decide to make a home next to your garage or basement, and this is where they are likely to encroach on your home.
A burrow might start out as a simple hole, but over time they can become quite sophisticated networks of tunnels, spanning as far as 10 meters across and a meter deep. For an animal that is relatively solitary outside of breeding season and raising their young, their burrow can be quite a statement.
Do Chipmunks Poop In The Same Spot?
Usually, chipmunks store their faeces in a designated area of their burrow. Although, you might see droppings from them in your yard every now and then. They are careful about where they poop because their scat can draw unwanted attention from predators such as weasels, raccoons, foxes and even house cats.
As such, they prefer to poop in the same place, underground where they can hide the scent from any threats. This is one reason why at first, you may doubt that the poop in your garden is from a chipmunk, but from some other small rodent.
If you do find chipmunk poop in your yard or in your basement, it is likely to be in one area, and not spread out all over the place. The latter would be behavior to expect from an animal that doesn’t care about where they poop, and the chipmunk most certainly does care.
Are There Any Benefits To Chipmunk Poop?
Unlike the scat of some other animals, such as coyote poop or skunk poop, the chipmunk is one invader that might be doing you a favor by pooping in your yard, or at least ‘under’ your yard. Granted, pooping in your basement or garage is not a great help, but chipmunk poop in general helps to maintain our ecosystem.
They do this in a few ways. For example, when they eat plants and fungi, they spread the seeds of these organisms around, along with mycorrhiza – a fungus essential for increasing water and nutrient absorption in plants. Additionally, their burrowing helps aerate and recycle soil.
So if they are burrowing nearby, they may well be helping the soil and plants in that area. It just might be though, that you don’t want them doing this in your yard, where the potential for more hazardous problems (contamination, chewing through cables and plastic pipes etc) is possible.
How Dangerous Is Chipmunk Poop?
If they poop where they are supposed to it wont do you any harm. But if you spot chipmunk poop above ground, in your yard or in your home, you will want to clear it up. One thing that chipmunk droppings have in common with other animal droppings is that they can contain parasites, viruses and diseases.
Chipmunk droppings may contain salmonellosis, leptospirosis, and hantavirus which can be harmful to humans or any pets if not cleaned up with the proper protection. So if you do spot an area in your basement or yard that has been contaminated with chipmunk poop, or any rodent poop, make sure you clean it up wearing adequate protective gear – gloves, and if fresh poop a mask.
Disinfect the area where the deposit was discovered, and check back regularly to make sure they have got the message.
Preventing Chipmunks Living In Your Yard
One way to prevent chipmunks invading your yard, is to make sure there is no food for them to eat. Keep your garden free of fallen fruit and vegetables, and store birdseed and pet food in sealed containers.
You can also install a fence around your yard, or use repellents like peppermint oil or ammonia. If you plan to install a wire mesh fence, just make sure you dig it in to at least 8 or 9 inches deep, or they can just burrow under it.
Remove any places they might use to hide or create temporary shelters, by keeping your yard clear of clutter, rocks, or abandoned wood. Also, make sure to trim back any overgrown bushes. You might want to seal any cracks on exterior walls that they could use to enter your house too.