There is no denying it; chipmunks are pretty darn cute. Our babies and young children are looked at as adorable when they have chipmunk cheeks. Their name comes from the Algonquin word ajidamoo, which means one who comes down a tree headfirst. The Oneida Tribe tells the story of how it got its stripes. The chipmunk was questioning the powers of the bear, even belittling it. The angry bear went after the chipmunk and, using its sharp claws, nearly grabbed the rodent. The next day, the chipmunk woke up with three marks on its back, and those remain today.
They are one critter that we’ve seemingly known all our lives, from Chip and Dale to Alvin and the Chipmunks. However, getting to know them up close is not something we recommend, but it may not be avoidable. Their populations are not usually tracked, but since 2016, the Department of Environmental Conservation has kept an eye on them due to increased reported sightings. A series of milder than normal winters combined with banner acorn production has led to a perfect storm of reproduction. And while a litter is typically three to five young, it can be as many as fifteen, and they are now found everywhere in New Jersey. This increase has also led to the increased presence of their predators, including snakes, foxes, bobcats, rats, and coyotes.
It is also hard to appreciate their cuteness when they are overrunning your property. Just because they weigh only 3 ounces doesn’t mean they can’t do some damage. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, flower bulbs, acorns, and fruit. They love berries and can tear up your garden to get them. They create extensive burrow systems, including spaces for nesting, brooding and waste. You may not even know they are digging because the dirt is carried away and not left in piles. They can even renovate existing burrows, creating an even larger opening underground. These can undermine the stability of your lawn and create a cave-in hazard. When their excavation moves towards your home, they can undermine patios, driveways, and foundations and cause structural damage. They are territorial and can defend the burrow for about 50 feet from the opening. They aren’t aggressive towards people but can be towards each other.
Like most small rodents, they rarely get infected with rabies. A bite, however, can still lead to infections which can cause tissue damage and organ failure. They can also carry fleas and ticks, which can pass some significant pathogens like Lyme Disease. Parasites may be an issue as well, including those that cause roundworm. Roundworms can be easily passed to dogs and from there to us. Baby chipmunks may be one of the most smile-invoking young animals, but children should be advised to stay away.
If the small critter starts to cause big problems, contact New Day Pest Control. We are the top-rated pest and wildlife control service in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, and Essex Counties. Our expert technicians and dedication to our customers have elevated us to that status, and we work hard every day to stay there. Reach out to us today for an estimate.