CHIPMUNKS! – Homeowner Rx
The other day a customer stopped in the store, and after we completed his hardware needs, he looked up at me and said, “How do you pick your topics for that newspaper article you do?” I told him that a lot of them come from everyday talks with my customers. Then he told me that the next article needs to be about chipmunks. He said that he has two loose in his house and his blankety blank cats can’t seem to get them! He needed some ideas! So let’s talk about chipmunks!
First some fun facts about those furry creatures. Chipmunks, or chippies as my grandpa Ed use to call them, are found mostly in North America. There are 25 species from Canada to Mexico. And one species outside our continent. The Siberian chipmunk scampers all over Asia and Europe where it was introduced by the pet trade in the 60’s. A group of chipmunks is called a scurry. Males are called bucks and females are called does. Even the babies have names, kits, kittens, or pups. They will eat seeds, flower bulbs, bird seed, berries, nuts, insects, and even frogs, lizards, baby birds, and bird eggs.
A chipmunk will usually have two types of burrows. A shallow one used day to day to hide in while foraging for food. And a deeper one to store food and to have a burrow to hibernate in. A chipmunk’s hibernation isn’t like the hibernation of bears. It starts about now, mid-October, and will continue until usually March or April. They do, however, wake up every few weeks to munch on some of the seeds and nuts that they have collected. There is just no way a little chipmunk could bulk up enough to be able to sleep through the entire winter.
Many of my customers initially describe these little monsters as “cute.” Personally I think that comes from years of Walt Disney’s Chip & Dale, and the world famous singing and acting trio of Alan, Theodore, and Simon! How many of you out there can still sing a few bars of the Chipmunk Christmas Song? A couple years ago my dog had one trapped in our downspout. That dog stayed within a few feet of that downspout for hours while I could hear that chipmunk trying mightily to get up that downspout. All to no avail. I’ll let you guess who won that battle. Besides being a nuisance, they normally don’t do much structural damage to your property. But boy can they make a mess out of your flower beds, ornamental plants, and they love to dig under sidewalks and porches.
So what’s the best way to get rid of these cute little furry critters? Well, I counted 8 different repellents that we have available that list chipmunk ridding as one of their specialties. They have a very unique list of ingredients. From essential oils, garlic, dried blood, whole egg solids, clove, fish oil, and onion, to wintergreen & black pepper oil. But sometimes it just takes something a little more dramatic. Our most popular eradicator of chipmunks has been a large rodent/rat trap. Seems to be that peanuts, peanut butter, and especially sunflower seeds are the best baits to use. And if you see me in the store, ask me about the eradication method that involves a garden hose, and the interesting way a customer taught me to get ‘em by using a 5 gallon bucket, a yardstick, sunflower seeds, and a gallon of water!
And when you got a couple chippies inside your house? I still have faith in a couple good mouser cats!
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