Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alvin, Simon & Theodore...& John & Bob & Sue & Joan...

Gardening. Some years I'm a devotee and other years I could care less. This is year three on a devotee streak to organic growing. Now that I'm spending hours in the yard, I've been noticing things previously ignored. Things like how crappy the side of the garage still appears, and oh look, the cute little chipmunks are still living by the iris bed.

When I work out there they're unconcerned by my presence. They scamper about chasing one another in what seems like a game of tag. Sometimes they race across the porch and get dive bombed by the resident robin. Chipmunks. Cute little furry things that are endlessly amusing to watch.

Last year they dug up some onions, carted off a few hyacinth bulbs and munched freely on the tomatoes. All in all, the damage wasn't that bad. Besides, they're really cute.

Live and let live.

The other day, husband and I were out inspecting a small sink hole in the back yard when we saw them -- a brand new set of four, small, flat burrows. It appears that, in rodent social circles, we are considered chipmunk friendly landlords. Now there are two families of these adorable little critters foraging in the garden and digging tunnels around the house.


How big is a chipmunk burrow anyway? According to this website, a burrow is an elaborate maze of tunnels ranging from 18-36 inches deep by 12-30 feet long. That much space for something that weighs three ounces? Wow. And we thought we were space hogs. Heh.

How many chipmunks could we end up with? I've only seen them two at a time and have no idea how many there are in total. After all, they all look alike. So I read a little more. Chipmunks breed twice a year (April & Aug) with a litter size of 2-9 (average 4-6).

Times two.


My garden isn't that big and that sink hole really needs to get filled in. Burrows can also facilitate water damage to house foundations. Oh my.

Be nice to the tenants and look what happens. They get out of hand. Soooo...

I went up to the local garden center and told them we have chipmunks. "I need an eviction notice, " I said.

He recommended a Havaheart trap and told me to drive them at least 5 miles away before letting them out. Otherwise, they would eventually find their way back.


A 5 mile one way drive locked in the back of a car? Sounds more like a sheriff's eviction rather than a simple notice.

I really don't want to kill them (they're cute) and poison can have nasty consequences for the neighborhood's free roaming pets. I agreed to the trap and brought it home. It's baited with chunky almond butter and sits out by burrow #1.

Now, we wait...........

Update 5:30 pm:
Right after finishing the post, I checked the trap and found one very scared chipmunk peering at me from behind bars. He was caged and about to lose his home. I felt sorry for him. Poor thing.
click on image to enlarge
Husband came along for the ride. We drove across the river and up the hill into the woods. At the 5 mile mark, we stopped the car and let him out. He scampered into the field and out of sight.

Tomorrow morning I'll set the trap again. How many 10 mile rides (round trip) remain? We shall see.

Update: 2 days later
Yesterday I caught one very pissed off squirrel. He had a veritable hissy fit, stomping and growling in the cage. Heh.

This morning I caught another chipmunk. This one wasn't afraid or annoyed. It seemed used to me -- like a yard pet. When I let it out in the woods, I had to shake the cage to get him to come out. He scampered about a yard then turned and looked at me. Good bye cute little thing. Have a nice new life.

Update: 6 days later
Three more critters caught over the last few days, making a total of five. This is not the end as I've seen two additional little devils scampering across the iris bed.

The squirrels seem wise to the trap. They sniff it, circle it and stare at it, yet none go in.

Update:13 days later
The total tally so far is nine chipmunks (or shitmunks as Husband now calls them). It's a bit hard to tell, but it seems the tenants in the back yard have not yet been completely evicted. The rodent relocation program (RRP) is getting old.

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