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The 1995 Chipmunk Chronicles, May, 1995

The chipmunks that were born around St. Patrick's Day are just now coming out of their nests. By the end of the month I expect we'll have at least six new members of the chipmunk community eating out of our hands.

While most adult chipmunks look pretty much alike to the untrained observer, baby chipmunks are easy to spot. Besides weighing only about an ounce (just under half the size of an adult), their fur is almost blonde, much paler and lighter than an adult's rich, dark brown fur.

The baby chipmunks are a lot of fun to watch because everything is new to them. They run around smelling everything. It takes them five minutes to cross 10 feet of deck because they have to sniff the deck and all its assorted debris (leaves, pine cones, strands of grass), every step they take. When they are sitting in a bay tree they will go out on a limb and smell every single leaf on that branch. When they run around on the ground they grab the stems of flowers with their tiny hands and bring the blossom over to their nose so they can get a good whiff. The adults never do this. The little chipmunks also like to eat some of the flowers, like fuschias buds, dandelions, and especially wild violets.

Some of the pregnant female chipmunks also like to eat certain flowers, and the juice in the stems of horsetail ferns. One day I noticed several horsetails lying flat instead of standing upright, and I thought a large animal might have trampled them, and then I saw a chipmunk gnawing the base of a horsetail until it fell over. Then she munched on the stalk, getting the nutrients she needed.

I have also seen adult chipmunks climb into a pot of cherry tomatoes I was growing on the deck (right next to the dining room), and pluck a ripe tomato and run off with it. They are so tiny (adults only weigh about 2 and a half ounces), that it would be akin to a person running with a whole cantaloupe or a small watermelon sticking out of their mouth. They also carry cherries this way.



Copyright © 1996 Toni Will-Harris, www.will-harris.com