June 27, 2008
Besides the gray squirrels (living on borrowed time) and the red squirrels (fed by the Friendly Neighbor and tolerated by Mrs. Random), we live with chipmunks.
The chipmunks are very cute. Nevertheless, they are little pests. Like the squirrels, they are rats with furry tales, just smaller and cuter.
There is a definite pecking order amongst these small creatures. When a red squirrel spots the chipmunks grazing in the seeds under the bird feeder, it savagely charges them and drives them away so it can pig out without having to share. If there are two squirrels, one of the squirrels will chase away the other. Squirrels are not politically correct creatures.
Juncos are ground-feeding/ground dwelling birds, so they peck away at the seeds on the ground rather than eating up on the bird feeder with the chickadees and the finches. After being chased by the squirrel, the chipmunks chase away the juncos, just so they can find somebody smaller than they are to bully and torment.
We don’t usually see the rats and mice (as they sneak out at night) but they climb into the engine of my wife’s truck and my little car, especially when the nights are cold. A rat built a nest in the engine of my wife’s truck and damaged some wiring. Some mice, with great skill, chewed some wires on my car, getting deep into the wiring for my headlights and doing a thousand dollars worth of damage. The auto mechanic told me it took hours for him to work his way to the point where the clever mice had been “working.”
After these little episodes, I got in the habit of putting re-usable plastic mouse traps out by the cars every three or four nights, and frequently I find dead mice in the morning. Occasionally I put a rat trap out as well. The other morning, I crowed triumphantly to my wife, “I caught a rat!”
My wife said, “I don’t think that’s a …” As I got closer, I realized she was correct. I had caught and killed a red squirrel in the rat trap. It’s just at first glance I had missed the tail. All together now, squirrels are just like rats with furry tails.
As my wife has concluded that the red squirrels belong here (while the gray squirrels deserve to be shot), she was rather sad.
The Friendly Neighbors dropped by later that day. Mrs. FN was complaining about the chipmunks. They had burrowed under a cloche where she had been protecting some seedlings, and eaten the young plants. My wife also complained about the chipmunks. They wander in and out of the garden and up and down our porch as they please and snack on whatever plant suits their fancy. Also, sometimes I find them sitting expectantly when I open the front door to our house, eager to come inside. Obviously, they are just waiting to walk in and start investigating our cupboards and perhaps taking a nap on our furniture.
I mentioned to the Friendly Neighbors that I had come up with a product idea for us to sell. We would create little snacks of dried chipmunk pemmican. We would market them as Chip Chips, though Jerky Chips might do as well.
Mrs. Friendly Neighbor reacted quite enthusiastically. She is quite ready to start jerking the chipmunks.