Do Chipmunks Eat Tomatoes? (Here’s What They Do)

Made famous by the entertainment industry, chipmunks are adorable rodents members of the squirrel family. They are found all over the United States, from the north of Maine all the way to sunny Florida, and they often live in urban and suburban environments. In these habitats, home gardens provide easy access to food. If you’ve noticed that someone is eating your tomatoes, you may wonder whether it’s the chipmunks. 

Do Chipmunks Eat Tomatoes?

Yes, chipmunks eat tomatoes. They also eat other vegetables, such as bean sprouts, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Other foods chipmunks can find in your garden include berries, mushrooms, apples, pears, chestnuts, pine nuts, and even oranges if you live in warmer climate areas. In addition to plants, chipmunks sometimes eat insects, arthropods, and carrion. 

Why Do They Eat Tomatoes?

Like squirrels, chipmunks primarily eat seeds, nuts, and grains. However, they also eat tender vegetable matter to complement their diet with nutrients and vitamins. Tender vegetables and fruits also play a crucial role in a chipmunk’s diet in periods of drought, when the critters get most of their water from plants.

In fact, tomatoes are an important source of nutrients and water. A tomato is made up of about 5% dry matter and 95% water, but it is very rich in nutrients. Among other things, tomatoes have a high level of vitamin C, K, and A, and they also contain minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus

Depending on the tomato species, the fruit can contain up to six grams of carbohydrates and three grams of protein. All these nutrients are crucial for chipmunks, especially in late summer and fall when the rodents start to prepare for winter. 

Due to their small size and fast metabolism, chipmunks don’t accumulate significant fat during the fall.

However, they go into a state of torpor that is similar to hibernation. They only wake up during winter once every few weeks to feed on their food stash. The vitamins and minerals they get from tomatoes (and other tender vegetables) can help them survive the harsh weather.

Are Tomatoes Good For Chipmunks?

Yes, tomatoes are good for chipmunks, but only as long as they are ripe and eaten in a limited quantity

Wild chipmunks – like all other wild animals – are at very low risk of tomato poisoning. Not only do these rodents eat ripe tomatoes (right off the vine or fallen to the ground), but they never feast on tomatoes alone. 

In addition to tomatoes, chipmunks also eat seeds, nuts, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables. 

Generally, chipmunks avoid eating green tomatoes, and they rarely touch the main part of the tomato plant, only nibbling on the fruits. 

If you keep chipmunks as pets, you should know that their diet must consist of about 50% grains and seeds. You can include ripe tomatoes (the sweeter the variety, the better) in their diet, but also provide other vegetables and fruits. 

Options include beans, carrots, lettuce, sweet potatoes, bananas, pears, apples, and berries. You can also provide peaches and plums but without stones, as they are poisonous to chipmunks. 

Regarding the tomatoes, you should not limit the options to tomatoes alone and never feed your chipmunk green tomatoes. 

The reason is the presence of solanine and tomatine in tomato plants and fruits. These alkaloids are generally present in green tomatoes, acting as the plant’s self-defense mechanism against insects and microorganisms. 

However, both solanine and tomatine are poisonous and can trigger adverse reactions that could lead to the chipmunk’s death if consumed in large quantities.

How To Prevent Chipmunks From Eating Your Tomatoes: 7 Methods

Keeping your tomatoes – and other vegetables – safe from pests is crucial if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor. But before deterring chipmunks, you should make sure you’re dealing with chipmunks, not other critters. 

Wild animals that could eat your tomatoes also include raccoons, squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits, and deer, to name just a few.

Chipmunk signs in your garden include small holes in your lawn or garden, generally near your home’s foundation, uprooted bulbs, caches of nuts and seeds in more hidden spots, and holes nibbled on tender vegetables

With this in mind, here are a few ways to keep these nuisance animals at bay.

Install An Electric Fence

Chipmunks are agile climbers, and a regular fence will not deter them. However, an electric fence will prevent them from climbing. 

The fence should be similar to a fence for groundhogs: at least three feet tall and made of heavy-duty poultry wire or wire mesh. Install the electric wire about five inches above the ground, and make sure the bottom edge is buried at least 12 inches under the ground. 

Cage Your Tomatoes 

An electric fence is usually the best method if you want to protect the entire garden. However, if you only want to keep wildlife away from your tomatoes, you could cage the plants.

The easiest way to do this is by installing regular tomato cages and wrapping them in wire mesh. Make sure to bury the bottom edge of the mesh into the ground, or the chipmunks and groundhogs would still be able to dig under it and get to your tomatoes.

Use Non-Toxic Repellents 

Blood meal is one of your best bets when it comes to non-toxic repellents. Other options include soiled cat litter, human hair, pet hair, and castor oil. Sprinkle these repellents across the garden and near burrow exits to keep away the chipmunks and other critters, including groundhogs and squirrels. 

Plant Herbs Chipmunks Dislike 

Like all other animals, chipmunks dislike certain plants. Thus, you can surround your tomatoes with these plants that can repel the critters, such as garlic, chives, onions, rosemary, basil, citronella, or lavender. Essential oils work in a similar way if you spray them on your tomato plants.

Place Rubber Snakes 

All small animals have predators, and snakes are among the main predators of chipmunks. This is why rubber snakes placed in your garden can scare off the pests. You can either use rubber snakes alone or as an addition to natural repellents.

Use Coffee Grounds

You might not imagine daily life without the morning coffee, but the truth is that most animals dislike its smell and flavor. Yet, coffee grounds can act as a fertilizer. Your tomatoes will love them, while chipmunks will likely stay away from them.

Relocate The Chipmunks 

The only permanent solution in dealing with pests is getting rid of them, and the only humane way to do this is by relocating the chipmunks. However, this method only works if there are one or two chipmunks in your area.

Chipmunks are easy to trap in cages by placing nuts, apples, or berries inside the traps. Relocate them at least five miles from your home, in a forested area where they can find shelter and food

Before trapping and relocating chipmunks, consult the regulations in your area. If in doubt, contact a pest control company or the local authorities.

To Finish

Chipmunks are adorable creatures that could establish their residence near your home. Whether you want to know what to feed them during winter, what to feed your pet chipmunks, or if they can eat your vegetables, know that chipmunks eat tomatoes. We hope this guide can help you understand how to stop them from spoiling your crops or how to feed your pets without the risk of poisoning them.

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