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August, 2009

  1. Artie, strongest chipmunk…. in the world!

    August 30, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Chipmunk in the flash

    Chipmunk in the flash


    Yes, I have a pet chipmunk. And here’s a little info about him, because when I search on line there is very little information about chipmunks as pets. There’s probably a lot of reasons for this, and I’ll get into that later.

    Artie and Petunia (named after characters from The Adventures of Pete & Pete) were two little baby chipmunks my mother found in a nest in her shed. While cleaning, she accidentally disturbed the nest and more or less made the mother chipmunk frightened about returning to retrieve her little ones. She called me up, not knowing what to do about them, and asked me to take care of them. I was putting on my shoes as soon as she said the words “baby chipmunk.”

    Artie and Petunia were about three weeks old when we got them, no eyes or ears opened, just cute little stripped babies who needed puppy milk formula every few hours. At the age of 24 my “mommy instincts” are developing in my senses and I was delighted to have them to take care of.

    Baby Chipmunk!

    Baby Chipmunk!

    Our first intention was to raise them to release them, but anyone who’s spent any time with these little guys would quickly see why we’re so enamored with our little chipmunks. After probably a week of raising them, I was set on keeping them. Keeping a chipmunk is illegal in most states. If you want a chipmunk for a pet, make sure you understand your local laws, even if you plan on being like Mr. Thoreau and playing civil disobedience, you have to understand that if animal control catches you, you could get into serious legal trouble, not to mention they could confiscate and euthenize your precious chippy, so beware!

    That being said, I can see some logic behind having even chipmunks classified as “illegal” wild animal pets because of the care involved in them. If you think it’s like having a hamster, you better get a hamster. Chipmunks have so much energy that they need a huge cage, Chris built us one that’s about 4X3X2. This is the absolute minimum you should have for a chipmunk, and even still, we take Artie out for hours a day, every day.

    Artie Gobbling Milk

    Artie Gobbling Milk

    In a lot of ways though, chipmunks are a fantastic pet, and the only reason there is any “illegal” classification for them is because they’re wild and people in general don’t know how to take care of wild animals. When we got Artie and Petunia, we noticed that Petunia was smaller, but we just thought that was because she was a girl. Over maybe two weeks of having her, she barely grew at all. While Artie’s eyes were opening, she was barely growing. One day she got away from the heater in their cage and was so cold she wouldn’t eat and later she died. I always blame myself for this, that if I knew what she needed better maybe we could have nursed her enough to survive. This is a good reason why the general public should be discouraged from caring for wild animals, whether they need help or not, it’s hard to say what’s best for them if you’re not an expert.

    I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “gee, I feel really guilty for all the chipmunks I ran over with my car!” As well you should! Tsk, tsk! But killing chipmunks with your car or even with a bb gun like my mom’s creepy neighbor, is that any different to the government agencies looking over wildlife? Yeah, it is. In the eyes of the law, having a chipmunk for a pet is mysteriously illegal. I mostly say mysteriously because searches on relevant laws are difficult, and in my opinion at least, not reasonably available for most of the public.

    Artie is a California Chipmunk, a species which has disappointingly little information available. Chipmunks in general seem to have very little information on them, and with this blog I intend to provide what information I can about this species just from my observation with Artie. The most noticeable difference between California Chipmunks and the more prevalent Eastern Chipmunk is the coloration patterns. Artie definitely blends in better with Wrightwood’s pelona schist (which composes this mountain range, and also has little information floating around on the web). He’s a pretty grey with brown and burnt sienna, with dark brown and white stripes.

    Artie eating a seed, look at his pretty colors!

    Artie eating a seed, look at his pretty colors!

    Artie is without a doubt, the coolest pet I have ever had.
    Cats are nice and independent, and a lot of fun as kittens, and Artie plays exactly like a kitten does. You make little sounds and wiggle your fingers and he knows it means “play time” and comes and gently attacks your fingers! And just like a greedy puppy, you can play tug-of-war with his treats! You can even call him and he will come. When I walk around the room when he’s out with me, he follows me, and climbs up my pants to perch on my shoulder! If you’re too rough, he makes a cute little chirp like a little bird to warn you, he never bites to hurt you, only when he’s playing, and only very gently. He even understands the concept of not climbing on faces, and I’ve seen him do some clever mid-air acrobatics to avoid landing on my face when he was playing with me.
    I have no idea why chipmunks weren’t domesticated over hamsters. They are far superior. They’re also very smart, and I know when Artie’s running around that he won’t do anything terribly stupid.

    Chipmunk climbing my shirt

    Chipmunk climbing my shirt

    I have a lot of videos of him, too, I’ll have to sort through and edit, but hopefully you liked my little chipmunk gallery and my rants about chipmunk laws and their suitability as pets.

    Of course, as I was writing this blog, I let my little Artie run around, and something terrible happened! He got caught somehow and broke off almost half his pretty little tail! I’m so upset I can’t even finish this post how I wanted to. Just a good example of how hard it is to take good care of these little guys! They’re so delicate and get themselves into trouble before you can even see what’s happening to help! My poor little Artie…

    And here’s another disadvantage, most vets won’t care for anything but cats & dogs more or less. Birds, lizards, small mammals are all considered “exotic” and need a special vet. Don’t even bother trying to come up with excuses if you take a chipmunk to a vet, I don’t even know what they would say. As long as Artie keeps acting like his usual self, I suppose I don’t have to take him to the vet, but I might have to find somebody who will understand a chipmunk’s needs!

    Artie trying to see what those weights were

    Artie trying to see what those weights were


  2. My inner fish: Tiktaalik <3

    August 8, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    If there’s anything that I should be writing about in my blog, I suppose it should be the things that I really like and want to share with others.
    There is a little fossil that has my affection, and it is Tiktaalik.

    Tiktaalik skull

    Tiktaalik skull

    I grew up, like many kids my generation, imagining that our very ancient ancestor who brought us to land was much like a mud skippy. How many times has the Discovery channel depicted it as such? It’s not too hard to imagine, but looking at a modern fish and imagining it as similar to a very, very ancient fish isn’t very satisfactory.
    Fortunately for nerds like me, there are other even bigger nerds out there who get work in miserable conditions like Greenland to find this fossil. This Devonian era fossil was found in 2004, and Greenland is one of the few places on this earth where that era of rock has been unearthed.
    Take a gander at it! For those of you who can’t use your imagination with the fossil:

    Tiktaalik, your inner fish

    Tiktaalik, your inner fish

    While this may not be very exciting to you (I’d have to ask why you read on, if that’s the case!) but I think it’s very refreshing that there are such great discoveries out there waiting for humanity. Something about the way that I was taught things in school as a kid always made me feel like we did everything, found everything, knew everything. The more I seek out to learn on my own, the more I realize we are a young species with much to learn about our world. There is so much we are capable of, so much we can do to change the world. (Like how I have a lot of hopes that in my life time there will be some amount of real cyberizing of humans for useful stuff not just a workaround for damaged parts..but maybe I watch too much Ghost in the Shell). Nothing has made me feel like we have so much to learn more than Quantum Physics, though. That, my friends, will be another post… uh… once I wrap my head around it a little better :)

    Please read more about this interesting little creature here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiktaalik

    While there has been a lot of hype lately about the fossil Ida, I think that Tiktaalik is still more interesting.  Ida is only one of many different transitional forms of primates. We actually have a decent fossil record for primates. Tiktaalik is possibly more interesting than Archaeopteryxeven, if we could only prove that it was a direct ancestor or something like that. I would think that during this time, there would be several different similar critters like Tiktaalik. They think it was a really marshy and swampy area and our little friend Tiktaalik got his more tetrapod like fins by squirming through tree roots underwater to hide from larger fish.

    Howdy Folks!

    How'dy Folks!


    Here’s one more gratuitous fishapod shot before I leave this one alone. I do have a strong urge now, when I see those little darwin fish on cars, to replace them with a life-like sticker of Tiktaalik. Afterall, if your interest is in the accuracy of science, you’ll have to admit those fish are desperately out-of-date now! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed him half as much as I do!


  3. My Dreams should write for Studio Ghibli…

    by lolkitty: Kaela

    Last night I had a crazy dream that was somewhere in between “Howl Castle” and “Spirited Away”… with a bit of “My Neighbor Totoro.”

    My dream went a little something like this…

    First off, you have to understand how our house is. It’s a funny little house that seems like it was either a spite house, or was made in two parts, with no consideration to the functionality of the other part. It’s as wide as a car altogether and not much longer than two. I heard that at one point it was a dog kennel, and that might make sense since our kitchen, bathroom, stairs, upstairs and even windows all feel like an afterthought. The property here backs up to national forest, and I could get lost in all the land back there. I feel like I’d find a Totoro! There is a courtyard so full of life that it spills over into our house and we’re constantly surrounded by daddy long legs (which make me think of “soot sprites!”), various large mean looking spiders, all kinds of moths (some that I’ve never seen in Wrightwood before), flies, we’ve found lizards, and have one resident mouse we call “Mickey.” This mouse has avoided every attempt of ours to catch him (live trap, of course!!), and this is likely why he became the subject of my Stuido Ghibli dream.

    I was sitting on the floor with Chris in our bedroom, just visiting like we do (how people used to before television!) and we were talking about Artie, our chipmunk. When he was little we kept him in an old hamster cage of mine, which did him fine until he learned to escape (before his eyes were even open, at that). For some reason, the cage was still in our bedroom, so I went to pick it up and take it out to the garage when a rather magical (in the Japanese kind of way, not the Disney kind of way) looking mouse popped out of the cage as though he’d been living there! He did a little dance hopping away from me, on me, on Chris, on our bed, just everywhere. It gave me a serious case of the heebeegeebies to see that mouse hopping around jumping on me, (though the real Mickey was much cuter than this magical dream version).
    The mouse went on, hopping around taunting me. So I put on a pair of mechanic gloves that were lying around and tried just grabbing him with my hands! He kept slipping out in a really cartoon-ish way and I felt like he was laughing the whole time. After I finally caught him I had a strange feeling about him, like he wasn’t just a mouse, but some kind of a garden spirit. Without opening my hands I told Chris I was going to take a long walk and let him go.
    I started walking down our street, which became a beautiful cross between Wrightwood and a Japanese forest. (If you’ve ever been to a Japanese forest you understand instantly everything Studio Ghibli, they feel so magical, like all the strange looking plants are hiding forest spirits of some kind). While walking I noticed a little path appear. It was that dark-forest dirt that you know will usually lead to a stream or some place damp like that. It was far too narrow for me to comfortably walk with my hands clasped tight as they were, but I started to walk down it. A car drove by on the road and startled me, and I dropped the mouse from my hands down the cliff a little. I crouched down to watch him, and as he scampered off, he looked like regular old Mickey.
    I thought it was strange, and I was a little mixed up about what happened, so I kept walking toward town. At this point, I was in some new strange place, like a mountain town I remember from childhood mixed with Oak Glenn’s little boardwalk through the woods. I kept walking for a while until I came to a town. There was a little restaurant attached to a meeting hall and cute outdoor seating where there were a lot of town people (kind of like the Village Grind in town) except there was a little stream that passed through the area, separating the out door area and a sort of stage where people were getting ready to play.
    I wanted to get to the other side and talk with the people but I couldn’t see how to cross the stream. I looked down at my feet where there were small rocks but I couldn’t hop across on them all the way, it got too deep. I kept looking for a way to cross until I came across a little porcelain jack-o-lantern with a big goofy smile. I picked it up and it was as though it was telling me it could help me cross.
    Who am I to doubt a porcelain pumpkin? After all, I really felt that I had to cross the stream. As soon as I picked him up I was floating across to the other side, taking steps like I was walking but not standing on anything. Once I was across I kept asking everyone if they knew who’s pumpkin it was, since it seemed like something important. And they all seemed gruff like I was acting silly, “of course it’s a magic pumpkin” one large motorcycle rider said, “like you’ve never seen one before?” I looked at the streams edge and there were little magical looking things all over the bank.
    I ran into a girl who pulled me aside and said she would take me home. I kept trying to ask more questions on my way out but I wasn’t getting a lot of answers as much as just a bunch of looks. I had the feeling they all had magical powers too, and I found some great place that I wasn’t supposed to.
    As I followed this girl, she took me to a path in the stream that was easily passed with big stepping stones. I stopped and yelled to her, “I didn’t know I could cross here, I didn’t see this before, what’s going on!?” And she turned back to me and sort of laughing said, “I think that pumpkin put a spell on you.” When I looked down it was in my hand again, with it’s strange grin looking up at me and shining in the sun. Across the bank there were no magical trinkets any more and everyone had a creepy anthropomorphic aura around them.
    Was it the pumpkin that put a spell on me, or that cunning resident magician who couldn’t be caught, Mickey?

    I have dreams like that frequently… my mind gets very creative at night. I don’t think dreams mean very much, I think that they’re our brain’s way of having fun while we’re not doing anything.
    I just think it’s funny, my mind mixed all my favorite Studio Ghibli movies.. and maybe a little cinderella in there too! After all, we do call this our Totoro house.

    What’s a totoro?

    forest friend

    forest friend


  4. NPR tells the craaaziest stories!

    August 6, 2009 by lolkitty: Kaela

    Apparently animals are capable of dancing.  This guy doesn’t just dance, he groooves.


  5. Welcome to my new blog!

    by lolkitty: Kaela

    I decided to host my own darn blog. Why have it up on a third party site?