Ground Squirrels / Chipmunks
Most squirrels are excellent climbers, and ground squirrels are no exception. The term refers to a family of rodents that encompasses chipmunks, prairie dogs and marmots. Unlike their tree-dwelling cousins, these critters prefer to stick as close to the ground as possible during their daily activities. In fact, they make their nests by digging below ground tunnels. Despite their cute and unassuming appearance, ground squirrels can cause a number of problems for homeowners and can even pose a threat of harm to humans or pets if they feel cornered or unsafe.
Have a Cute Chipmunk Problem?
Are you having chipmunk and ground squirrel problems? Call Critter Control today at (574) 825-1079 in South Bend and Elkhart, or (260) 632-5106 in the Fort Wayne area and our trained staff will be there to help you with chipmunk and ground squirrel removal.
What Do Ground Squirrels Look Like?
With around 60 different species of ground squirrels, the appearance of these creatures is highly variable. Chipmunks (Tamias spp.) for example, are smaller than arboreal squirrels with a thinner, less fluffy tail. American woodchucks or groundhogs belong to the Marmota genus and appear closer in build to beavers than squirrels. Their bodies typically measure up to a foot long with the tail adding a few inches to another foot in length. Ground squirrels possess brown, tan, mottled or full black coats of fur, and may bear spots or lines in their coloration. With sharp claws that aid in the essential tasks of digging and climbing and teeth that are constantly growing – a hallmark of rodents in general – these critters are equipped to cause quite a bit of damage to people and property.
Where Do Ground Squirrels Live?
Ground squirrels are found on every continent of the world with the exception of Antarctica. Although most species prefer arid, hot climates, they also take well to colder, dry climates like those found in Alaska or the Canadian tundra. In the United States, ground squirrels can be found in high numbers in the western and central states. Because they burrow and dig below ground, finding a ground squirrel den can be difficult. They prefer to have some form of cover like shrubbery or the cover offered by man-made structures like sheds, garages and wood piles. Most ground squirrels avoid areas with saturated land, such as wetlands and swamps, and tend to avoid thickly forested areas, as well. Ground squirrels are communal creatures, living in tunnels with up to several dozen other colony members.
What Damage Do Ground Squirrels Cause?
Most ground squirrels prefer to stay outside of your home or buildings for their shelter, but that doesn’t mean they won’t attempt to gain entry in search of food or a space to weather out more inclement seasons. By seeking out small openings, these critters can quickly become unwanted roommates in your home, though the real damage caused by ground squirrels comes from the havoc they wreak to your exterior property. Ground squirrels, like other rodents, have to gnaw constantly to keep their ever-growing teeth in check. If your property is host to these creatures, you may find that the exterior structure of your building is quickly being chewn away. They dig through flowerbeds, crops and even your lawn — and the damage may not stop at your property line as tunnels can extend beyond 30 feet depending upon the species and size of the colony. Each tunnel has multiple entrances, which can pose a trip hazard for people, pets and livestock or cause damage to yard equipment or farm machinery. Although ground squirrels aren’t overly aggressive, they will use their teeth and claws if they feel threatened. As a result, small children, pets and unsuspecting homeowners who startle these rodents can suffer injury. The waste they leave behind can harbor diseases that can cross the species barrier, posing further health risks to you and your loved ones on two or four legs.
How Do You Deal with Ground Squirrels?
Stopping a ground squirrel problem involves identifying the species present and working to both deter and remove them. Because each species responds to different techniques and because all species are resilient and often try to reclaim old tunnels and burrows made by other colonies, it’s important to call a knowledgeable animal control specialist to help deal with your ground squirrel problem. Our wildlife experts can trap and remove ground squirrels from your property and take steps to ensure they don’t return. Give us a call today at (574) 825-1079.