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Q: Please advise what can be done about ridding the garden of chipmunks. Holes everywhere and, of course, always right after planting and mulching. Thanks.

A: Chipmunks (no, NOT the singing group) are our furry little rodent friends that grace our gardens, yards and patios. Their population will increase or decrease in respect to their food supply, so if food is plentiful, there will be more chipmunks.

Chipmunks eat just about anything. Their diet consists mainly of nuts, acorns, corn, berries, mushrooms, and fruits. They will also eat insects, snails, bird eggs and smaller animals, like young mice. So, you can see, they are quite the omnivores.

Since only part of their diet consists of things we might like them NOT to eat, they are much less of a pest than many people think. It is when they decide to chow down on those bulbs we planted last fall that we get most upset.

Precluding chipmunks from gardens may be nigh on impossible. They are expert burrowers, so unless you trench deeply around your garden and put screening down, they'll probably find their way in anyway.

An old saying goes, "Plant enough for both you AND the animals." I agree.

The most humane way to get rid of chipmunks is to live-trap them, then release them far away, preferably in a wooded area where they'll be able to adapt to their new surroundings.

Be sure not to release them too close to others' dwellings, otherwise they may just become a nuisance to someone else. With all of our Metroparks, you should have an easy time finding a place to release your little friends. And, while you're there, enjoy a picnic!

Overall, they are fairly innocent little critters, and can actually be helpful. They can be a nuisance, though, darting about and startling people.

I know my mother-in-law is extremely fond of chipmunks -- every time she sees one she screams quite loudly (but not in delight!).

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Tom Mugridge
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