This summer in New England the varmints are making a nuisance of themselves, darting to and fro, digging holes in gardens, and tunneling under lawns. AP photo

Chipmunks, fattened up on acorns, are driving people nuts

Their frenetic activities can be entertaining

There were plenty of acorns this spring, and now the chipmunks are driving people nuts.

Their frenetic activities can be entertaining. But this summer in New England the varmints are making a nuisance of themselves, darting to and fro, digging holes in gardens, and tunneling under lawns.

Plentiful acorns last fall meant there was still plenty of food on the ground when the chipmunks emerged from winter and got busy breeding this spring, said Shevenell Webb, a small mammal biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The result is a bumper crop of the critters.

“They’re cute. They’re fun to watch in the forest as they duck in and out of the holes and play peekaboo,” Webb said. When their cheeks aren’t bulging with nuts, chipmunks make a distinctive “chip” sound, she said.

But they’re also destructive. They can destroy lawns and gardens with their burrowing, and can even get into homes, Webb said.

“We can’t grow a tulip without them digging it up,” Steven Parren, wildlife program diversity manager for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, said of the chipmunks in his yard. “They don’t even pause.”

There were so many acorns in one of the areas that he monitors that the rodents that rely on them couldn’t stash them all away for the winter. Plenty remained on the ground this spring. In addition to chipmunks, he said, he’s seeing more squirrels, rabbits and a variety of different kinds of mice.

People needn’t get too alarmed over an overpopulation. Small mammal populations tend to explode, then crash and burn.

Such is life near the bottom of the food chain, where food supply ebbs and flows and chipmunks are easy prey for owls, hawks, snakes, foxes and raccoons. Even if their lives aren’t cut short, individual chipmunks tend to live only for three years, Webb said.

Many New Englanders recall a similar spike in squirrel populations in 2018 in New England. The boom-and-bust cycle was punctuated by a memorable number of road kills.

“We’ve never seen anything like that. That was a once in a lifetime event,” Webb said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(BLACK PRESS file photo)
Lacombe man charged after weekend stabbing

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to come forward

The event was hosted by Darcy Stingel with audio and video support provided by Airace Productions. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
Lacombe Business and Community Awards celebrates local resiliency

The awards held Saturday night were streamed by roughly 100 people across the city

Lacombe’s Got Talent hosted the finale at Lacombe’s Performing Arts Centre on Sunday Oct. 25. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
Lacombe’s Got Talent: Finale showcased a wide variety of local artists

Organizers are hoping to have the local talent show become a regular event in the future.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed more than 1,000 cases over the weekend Monday afternoon. File photo
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up Monday

‘We’ve now crossed the tipping point,’ says Hinshaw

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Most Read