How to Trap Chipmunks – Effectively and Humanely

Do you need to trap a pesky chipmunk that is tearing up your yard?

If so, how do you know that the chipmunk will actually go into your trap and not just get scared away by it?

The truth is, there are many different techniques for trapping a chipmunk. You need the right size trap, the right bait, and the right trap placement to effectively trap a chipmunk.

This article includes everything you need to know about how to trap chipmunks in your yard.

Select Your Live Chipmunk Trap

The first step for trapping a chipmunk is selecting the right live-animal trap. I only recommend live-animal traps because they are incredibly effective and allow you to release the chipmunk back into its natural habitat.

The trap you want is a wire cage that has an opening on one or both sides that allows the animal to enter for food. As soon as the chipmunk steps on the trigger in the middle of the trap, the door will close and trap your chipmunk inside.

I find that traps with openings on both sides work best for chipmunks. Chipmunks are more likely to venture into the trap when they see a clear path out.

Chipmunk Trap Size

Generally, you want a small trap for chipmunks. Smaller traps will allow you to capture a chipmunk but minimize the risk of trapping something else like a cat or raccoon.

The best size chipmunk trap is approximately 5-6 inches high, 5-6 inches wide, and 15-20 inches long. This is perfect for chipmunks but small enough to avoid trapping larger animals.

Best Trap for Chipmunks

Havahart makes some of the best traps for chipmunks. You can find these traps online or in the sporting goods section of most stores.

The Havahart chipmunk trap I use has openings on both sides and is a perfect size for trapping a chipmunk humanely.

Bait for Trapping Chipmunks

The best bait trapping a chipmunk is peanut butter with strawberries or seeds. The great thing about these baits is that they are easy to find and materials are relatively inexpensive.

These baits are effective because they create a powerful scent trail that the chipmunk can’t resist. Chipmunks will follow the scent to the food and then they’ll walk right into your trap.

The peanut butter can be used as a base to hold the other baits in place on the trap step trigger mechanism. I always catch a chipmunk when I use peanut butter with a strawberry on top!

Best Bait for Chipmunks

Check our complete guide on the best chipmunk baits to use.

How much bait should you use in each location?

With any type of trap and bait, just be sure not to over-bait it. I would recommend only 1 tablespoon per bait station. There’s no need for too much excess as it might scare away animals from the trap.

Placing Your Chipmunk Trap

The perfect spot to place a chipmunk trap is near shrubs or trees where you’ve spotted them before. Look for chipmunk burrows in the area to confirm their activity. Don’t forget to fill chipmunk holes after you trap and relocate them.

chipmunk trap behind bushes by house
Chipmunk trap behind bushes and close to a burrow

These areas are great locations to place your trap because chipmunks like to live in areas that are more secluded. You want the chipmunks to feel comfortable and safe enough to enter your trap without worrying about predators.

Some chipmunk trap locations that work best for me include:

  • Along the side of a house near shrubs
  • Behind a tree or bush in the yard
  • In the middle of landscaped areas in your yard
  • Near bird feeders
  • Close to a chipmunk burrow

How long should you leave a chipmunk trap in one area?

Once you’ve found a good chipmunk trap location, set it up and leave it there for about one week before moving to another spot. The more bait stations that are out in the area, the better chance of catching a chipmunk.

After a week, you can move the trap or traps to another location if you haven’t captured any chipmunks. I have caught multiple chipmunks in a single location and then nothing for days in a row. As soon as I moved the trap to a new location, I started catching chipmunks again.

Setting Your Chipmunk Trap

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set up your trap before you start. Nothing is more frustrating than having a chipmunk steal your bait and getting away because the trap wasn’t set correctly.

With most traps, the first step is setting the trigger mechanism which holds the trap doors open until they are released by a chipmunk stepping on it.

Just make sure the trap doors are fully open when the trigger is set.

Test Your Trap: Use a small stick to set off the trap to make sure the doors close and are locked in place correctly. If the trap isn’t set correctly, the chipmunks can raise the doors and wander away with a free meal.

Checking and Monitoring the Chipmunk Trap

It is important to check your chipmunk trap regularly.

Checking your chipmunk trap ensures:

  1. The trap is still open and ready to trap a chipmunk – Sometimes other animals will trigger the trap and cause the doors to close. This happens to me sometimes with raccoons. You don’t want your trap sitting out there with no chance of capturing a chipmunk.
  2. Your bait is still there and is fresh – Make sure the bait is still intact and hasn’t been tampered with or eaten by other animals. After a week of being set, I would recommend removing any uneaten food from the trap and replacing it with fresh bait.
  3. You promptly and humanely relocate any trapped chipmunks –  Once you have captured a chipmunk in your trap, it’s important to act quickly. Relocate the animal as soon as possible by releasing them away from human habitation and without causing further harm or suffering.

Monitoring Your Chipmunk Trap with a Camera

A quick tip is to monitor your chipmunk trap with a battery-operated WiFi camera.

camera chipmunk trap
WiFi Camera monitoring chipmunk trap

This allows you to quickly check the trap from your phone to see if you have captured anything. It’s quick, easy, and fun to check if your trap was successful.

Some cameras even have motion alerts so you know when your trap is getting a visitor. With camera video recordings, you’ll get to see when and why the trap was set off or if other animals are sniffing around the trap.

What to do When You Trap a Chipmunk

Once you capture a chipmunk, you want to relocate them to their new area as soon as possible. Being stuck in a cage is stressful to a chipmunk and it’s important to get them out of there as soon as you can. We want to be humane.

How to Keep a Trapped Chipmunk Calm

After trapping a chipmunk, the first thing you should do is place a towel over the trap. This will help the chipmunk calm down and feel more comfortable.

The towel will make the chipmunk feel like they are in a secure tunnel and they won’t be able to see when you are transporting the cage. This means the chipmunk will be less likely to pee and poop all over the place while in transit.

How to Transport a Trapped Chipmunk

Once you have covered the trap with a towel, place another towel or plastics bag on the floor where you will place the chipmunk trap during transport. Place the chipmunk trap in the center of your new towel so it doesn’t move around too much.

The towel or bag will also catch any urine or feces that might be released by the chipmunk before and during transport.

You can take your trapped chipmunks to wooded areas or local parks in your area. Just make sure there is a natural habitat so the chipmunk has a good chance of survival in its new area.

The area should be a least five miles away from your home so you ensure they don’t make their way back to your yard.

How to Release a Trapped Chipmunk

Once you find a location to release the chipmunk, get out your car and carry the trap to a nearby tree.

Place the chipmunk trap on the ground, lift up one of the corners of the towel and open the trap door so the chipmunk can run out.

Don’t try to grab or pull the chipmunk out of the trap. It will come out on its own when it feels safe.

Other Questions and Tips – How to Trap Chipmunks

Here are some common questions people have when trapping and relocating chipmunks.

When are chipmunks active?

Chipmunks are primarily active during the night and early morning hours. However, during the summer months, they may be active during daylight hours.

Do you need a permit for trapping chipmunks?

You do not need a permit for trapping chipmunks and other nuisance animals in most states. However, it is important to check with your local and state authorities before setting any traps.

What food is irresistible to chipmunks?

You want to use some of the foods that chipmunks love as bait. This includes apples, grapes, oranges, peaches, strawberries, various seeds, and also peanut butter.

How far away should you relocate chipmunks?

You should relocate chipmunks at least five miles away from the area they originally inhabited. This distance will ensure they don’t make their way back to their original location.

Where do chipmunks live and sleep?

Chipmunks will sleep in their burrows, which are underground tunnels and nests. These structures can be found close to the ground, but they may also create denser areas such as an old log or stump near a water source.

Do chipmunks bite?

Chipmunks will bite if they feel threatened. However, they are not aggressive and would rather run away from a human than attack them.

Conclusion – How to Catch Chipmunks in a Live Trap

Overall, live trapping is one of the most humane ways to catch a chipmunk and remove them from your property.

Just make sure you select the right size trap, use bait that is irresistible to chipmunks, and check the trap frequently.

Do you want to get rid of chipmunks in your yard for good?

Check out this article on how to get rid of chipmunks from your yard and garden for more tips.

2 thoughts on “How to Trap Chipmunks – Effectively and Humanely”

  1. Thank you for sharing all this very helpful info! What time of year is the most humane time to relocate a chipmunk? I’m concerned about food storage and potential babies.

    1. Hi Nicole…thank you for being so considerate. Chipmunks start storing up food in late summer to early fall in preparation for winter. You want the newly relocated chipmunk to have time to locate new food sources so you might want to wait until early spring once we are in the fall season.

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