July 5th started out hot and it only got hotter as the day rolled on. I was out by 8am to water my garden.
It should have been no surprise to hear the “squeaky toy” squeal of a chipmunk as I stepped out my back door. Still, I jumped a bit when I heard it. I muttered under my breath a few choice words toward the rodent as I commenced watering. This wasn’t my first encounter with this chipmunk and I doubt it’ll be my last.
Chipmunks aren’t any fonder of the heat than we are. Getting out early in the morning and in the late afternoon is common for them anyway. Chipmunks have added incentive to be active at those times with hot weather. Boy, that’s exactly what we have right now-heat! So the morning encounter with said chipmunk really wasn’t unusual. In fact, I have been running into this little bugger since late April, and it may be the same one that tried to set up house in my garage last year. A little persuasion from me and one of my cats changed its mind about that, though.
No, instead it appears to be living UNDER the garage, behind the rhubarb. While watering one morning I found its den, a small hole that lead directly down and under the foundation. Later I found two more, behind the hollyhocks, but they were shallow. Possibly some test spots?
When I noticed the chipmunk running around earlier this year I really wasn’t too fazed. I had bird food out and he was doing a pretty good job cleaning up what the birds dropped. Hence very few sprouted seeds (four seeds that did sprout turned into some pretty nice sunflowers!)
However, it became apparent that my little buddy considered ALL seed fair game, including any I put out in the garden! Many of the seeds I planted did not come up. Then I noticed some of my crocuses hadn’t sprouted-in fact, they were GONE!! It took me a little while to figure it out. Then, one morning I caught the striped little bandit red handed! There he was, among the herbs, digging out the seeds I had just planted the day before!! ARRGGHH! Ok, now I was getting a bit put out!
To be fair, the chipmunk was doing what chipmunks do. They are seed eaters, after all. I was surprised to find out that they do a little hunting too, though. They will hunt young birds and eat bird eggs. They also are known to eat insects, as well. I guess that makes them omnivores!
Could that be one of the reasons the grasshopper population is so low? I seem to have very few this year. Come to think of it there are very few crickets, too.
Maybe having a chipmunk around isn’t all bad, although I’ll have to work with it a bit. At least they tend to be solitary. They come together once or twice a year to mate, then go on their merry way.
From what I’ve researched they have one, possibly two litters a year and the young are on their own in 6 to 8 weeks. They usually have a territory of about a half acre, so my little lot probably isn’t even enough territory for one chipmunk. The only problem is that if there is enough food they congregate. With the bird food I put out its possible chipmunks might consider my yard a rodent buffet!
Well, I can always resort to the cats, right? Somehow I think the chipmunk has figured out that my cats are pretty much harmless. The last time my cats chased the chipmunk it simply shot up one of the drain spouts. There is sat, sharply chuck-chuck-chucking away. My cats slowly, cautiously approached the drain spout, alert and tense. Suddenly the chipmunk scurried inside the spout. Both of my cats startled and raced to the back door! Brave kitties I have…anyway, the chipmunk is safe for now, at least from the cats and yes, from me. Next year I will resort to starts and transplant in the spring, and I will stick to bulbs the critter doesn’t savor.
I will be out later tonight to water again as the heat winds down. I’m betting the chipmunk will be too. Now that we are in the hot muggy days of summer, we both will find a way to beat the heat while upholding the fragile truce we have forged.