Sunday, July 3, 2016

How To Build A Chipmunk Trap

A little more than a week ago, on June 23, 2016, we noticed broken bluebird eggs.  This was the third bluebird nest that was destroyed this summer.  The other bird nests in the area have thrived.  The tree swallows fledged yesterday, the mourning doves fledged two young ones and the Baltimore oriole eggs have hatched.

Male Baltimore oriole feeding young ones.

The bluebird pair is trying for the fourth time.  She has been busy building yet another nest.  The next few days she will be busy laying another clutch of eggs.  She only lays one egg a day and the last two attempts each produced five eggs.   Hopefully in another week she will be incubating more eggs.  Today she has three eggs in the nest.

In order to help reduce a predator problem, we installed a Noel Guard.  It is designed to reduce a predators ability to reach the bird eggs through the birdhouse hole opening.  You can see a pattern on how to build one from the website.  We have used a wren guard in the past, but we are trying this Noel Guard because the Wren Guard wasn't successful for larger predators.  I wrote about the Wren Guard a year ago for my 600th post.

A Noel guard installed over the birdhouse opening.

We tried to decide what had caused the problem with our bluebird eggs.  Some people suggested that chipmunks or squirrels could be the problem.  The predator is usually a wren or a raccoon, but we saw a Red Squirrel in the vicinity.  When researching this little squirrel, it appears to be quite aggressive and capable of stealing and destroying bird eggs.

Looking somewhat like a chipmunk, this is a red squirrel.

No matter who the culprit is, we decided to set live traps.  Our main goal was to relocate some chipmunks and hopefully the red squirrel.  A few days ago we set out the traps.  We had purchased a small animal trap and had one made by my husband many years ago.  He had a co-worker who gave him a pattern, and my husband made one over thirty years ago.  We used it off and on until it got too weathered and rickety.  He made a new one and made a couple more for family members.

The purchased small animal trap

The homemade trap.

In the past few days we have caught twelve chipmunks.  We caught one in the purchased trap and eleven in our home made trap.  Obviously our own trap was the most successful.  After we catch one, we put the trap in our vehicle and take it five miles away from our house to the other side of the river and release them.  If they return, I will just catch them again.  Many people believe we should drown them or kill them, but I just can't do that.  Yesterday we took the journey, opened the trap, the chipmunk jumped out and ran across the grass, I closed the lid and put the trap back in the truck.  When we got home, I took the trap out and set it down.  I heard some scratching and looked.  There was another chipmunk in the trap.  Apparently we had caught two at once and only one jumped out.  So we got back in the truck and made another trip.  Twenty miles total to relocate two chipmunks.  It's a good thing gas prices aren't as bad as they were last summer.

If you want to make one of these special traps, I think it's time for me to bring in the Count of our Cabin.  What would a Cabin Countess be without her Count?  He agreed to provide a small tutorial on how to build this chipmunk trap.  Here are his instructions for the small animal trap in honor of my 700th blog post.

How To Build A Chipmunk Trap
By the Cabin Count

Since blog writing is a little bit foreign to me, I will try to make the instructions as clear and concise as I can.  My wife tells me not to use too many unimportant little details, so I will try to get to the point.

The first thing you need to do is gather some supplies.  I just used scraps of wood and supplies I had on hand.  You can always go to the Habitat for Humanity Restore store.  They may have everything you need at a good price.  If you want to go to the lumber yard and buy cedar boards and fancy hardware, that is up to you.

Pieces of plywood, small boards and some wire mesh.

The measurements are not set in stone, they can be adjusted to what materials you have.

If you don't have scraps on hand, the trap can be made from one 1" x 6" x 6' board.

Additional materials needed:

Screws (or nails), hardware cloth (or some type of screening), a hinge, a weight, a drawer pull, 3.25" x 3.25" piece of masonite or stiff cardboard, and a dowel cut to size for your trap (stick).

Directions using a 1" x 6" x 6' board [Actual size is .75" x 5.5" x 6']


1. Cut three pieces @ 15" in length [two for the sides, one for the bottom]

2. Cut one piece @ 10" in length [top]

3. Cut one piece @ 5.5" in length [door]

4. Cut (Rip)  four strips @ .75" in width and 11" in length

5. From the four strips cut six @ 5.5" in length and two @ 4" in length

6. The remaining strip should be approximately 1.5" in width  Cut one piece @ 4" in length


1. Attach the bottom to the sides [Screw (or nail) through the bottom into the sides.]

2. Attach the .75" x 1.5" x 4" piece to the sides [Screw (or nail) through the sides into 4" piece.]

3. Attach the top to the sides [Screw (or nail) through the top into the sides.]

4. Cut hardware cloth ( screening) to size to cover front and back [These will be different sizes]

5.  Attach the hardware cloth to both ends using the six 5.5" strips and two 4" strips

6. Attach the door using the hinge [Allow for opening and closing of the door]

7. Attach a weight on front end of door [Holds door down so critter can't escape.]

8. Attach a three inch screw or nail to the bottom [Should be placed in the center of the door opening]

   Set the trap [This takes patience and practice]

1. Place some bird seed on the bottom of the trap

2. Balance the piece of masonite (or stiff cardboard) on the screw

3. Place the dowel (piece of stick) on the masonite

4. Lower the door onto the dowel [A little notch in the underside of the door may help.]

How it works:

Through the open door the critter will drop down tipping the masonite, dislodging the dowel, slamming the door shut.

Hats off to the Countess for 700 blogs. The Count finds this blogging difficult to do, so this may be my first and last guest blog.

We hope you enjoy your new surroundings little fella.

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