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Chipmunks Gone Bad

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oh yeah, he's cute, but read on...
This is Bob. Last summer, he lost the end of his tail, to what I know not. Chet likes to chase him to a hideyhole under the garage; maybe there was a close call. Bob has been out and about from hibernation for about ten days now, defying winter, stuffing his cheek pouches with suet dough and sunflower seed, corn and millet. I suspect he has a multi-room condo somewhere under the garage, with a different entree in each room. As chipmunks go, Bob is a good one. He doesn't do too much digging in planters or nipping off seedlings. You get a bad chipmunk, you got trouble.
I like Bob because I can tell him from the others, and because he strikes decorative poses on the garden furniture. I said he was a good chipmunk, but I just remembered a moment last summer when a cardinal lay down to sunbathe under the feeder. Flopping over on his side, the cardinal spread one wing and threw his head back and closed his eyes, just letting the sun reach his dark gray skin. You could tell it felt really good. I was watching the cardinal, but I was also watching Bob, who was sitting on a stone wall under the studio window. Bob's tail stump wove back and forth like a cat's, and I knew he was up to no good. Sure enough, Bob launched himself off the stone wall and straight at the sunbathing bird. Cardinal reaction times being what they are, the redbird was up and out of his trance before Bob got there. But somehow, I don't think ol' Bob was fooling around. I did get a good laugh out of it, and another tidbit of insight about chipmunks.
Ironically, chipmunks are the whole reason I can't keep the captive-bred hatchling box turtles I raise in an outdoor enclosure. (They're being raised for eventual release on our preserve). There's really no way to exclude a chipmunk from anything, since they're so tiny and dig so well... They open the box turtles up and eat them like walnuts, I'm told, until the boxies get to 3/4 lb. and their shells are hard enough to resist chewing. Chipmunks are weird. There's a dichotomy there: vegan-gone-vampire. So Chet and I keep our eyes on ol' Bob.


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