|Little guys like this Arctic Ground Squirrel are adorable...|
as long as they don't get in your house!
He's retired and in the process of writing a middle-grade adventure novel set in the Adirondacks, a place we're both passionate about. He helped me plan my first backpacking trip there. He's also authored a children's book about Alaska, among 31 other titles.
When I got an email from him titled "chipmunk blog," I knew I was in for a treat. The mark of a gifted storyteller is the clear picture your mind creates of events and characters, and thanks to the picture this story created in my head, I couldn't stop giggling and gushing about how cute chipmunks are. I asked Uncle Bill if I could share the story here. Luckily for all of us, he agreed.
It finally rained [in Rochester, NY] last night. For days we’ve been receiving threats of powerful thunderstorms and torrential rain, but all we got was an occasional drizzle. If there was a storm last night, I slept through it, but this morning a soft, steady, light rain was coming down.
Today is also garbage day. My wife hauled the trash can out to the road when she went to work this morning. After the truck came by about ten-o’clock, I went out to retrieve the can. I opened the garage door, walked out to the street and carried the can back. It had rain water in it, so when I put it back in the garage I turned it upside-down to drain. As I was closing the roll-up garage door, I heard noises behind me – quiet, rustling sounds. I stood very still, glancing around the garage for the source. And then I heard the familiar squealing-tweety little cries.
A moment later, a chipmunk poked its head out of the woodpile. A second one came out from under the lawnmower; a third hopped out of a cardboard box. I stood and watched as they nervously flitted from hiding spot to hiding spot in the garage, keeping as far away from me as they could.
I opened the back door to give them an escape hatch, but they just kept zipping around the garage – in and out of the woodpile, behind the trash cans, and up, over, and under the lawnmower. It took me a while to realize they didn’t want out. It was raining outside. The neighborhood predatory cat was outside. Cars and trucks were outside. They were inside, safe and dry. Or at least dry.
I love chipmunks, I really do. But I love them outdoors, not in my house. I needed a lure.
Now over the years, on sojourns in Algonquin Park and the Adirondacks, I have conducted extensive research into chipmunks’ dietary preferences. Besides observing their natural diet of seeds and so on, I have unintentionally offered them raisins, dried cranberries, coconut flakes, granola, peanuts (both dry-roasted and in the shell), cashews, dried pineapple, dried apple bits, and walnuts on various sojourns in nature out of my own personal stash of food. I have learned that the one food they prefer most, the one they will seek out first, leaving all other temptations and eating it until it’s gone, is M&Ms.
And fortuitously, we had some. Little individual packets, likely left over from Halloween. I closed the back door, raised the big garage door just a tiny bit, dropped a few of those colorful, melt-in-your-mouth-not-in-
It took about 20 minutes of skittery investigation before Chip, Dale, and friend began chowing down. They’d stuff their cheeks, dash off to wherever their burrow was, and then came back for more. On one of their burrow trips, I closed the garage door tightly.
Mean me. I hope they come back (and avoid the cat). I have more M&Ms to get rid of.
As avid outdoors-people and advocates of Leave No Trace practices, Uncle Bill and I normally never condone or promote practices that involve feeding wildlife human food. But in this case, Uncle Bill had an invasion on his hands and even the Humane Society advocates for food-related incentives if other solutions don't work. It's also just a cute story. And chipmunks are cute.
Have you ever had chipmunks in your house or garage? What do you think of Uncle Bill's solution? Leave a comment!