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Posts Tagged ‘california chipmunk’

  1. How to chastise a chipmunk and other impossible solutions in caring for a wild animal.

    September 11, 2009 by admin

    Chipmunks aren’t like other pets. They are so unlike other pets that they adapt to become experts in getting what they want, and psychologically breaking down your will power to resist them.

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!

    Don't be fooled by his Disney-like appearance!


    Today I worked from home. It was going to be a nice, quiet day at home. And best of all, I would be able to let out my darling chipmunk, Artie, to explore the bedroom supervised as I work. The only catch was that he had other plans.

    It started out as our usual day of him being out in our bedroom playing. He’d make some imaginary game with himself and run around the room like he was going to be chased by something outside the window. He’d run from the window to me, start nibbling my fingers to play, and so on back and forth.

    Today he decided my computer keys were the ultimate treat. Our normal game of him play attacking my fingers turned into him liking the sound of me click-clack typing and an extra exciting version of our usual game: with sound effects! Plus, this way he could get my undivided attention because I couldn’t even have my hands on my computer. He’s been known to try to bite my keyboard keys before, so I always scoot him gently off my computer and continue working.

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder

    Sneaking around on Chris' shoulder


    Of course, I told you my chipmunk had other plans today. After being on my computer a whole 2 seconds he managed to completely rip off my “arrow down” key. He then ran off with it and had me chase him around the room until he hid in the window sill tucked it in the corner and made little scratching hand motions as though he was burying it. At least I can out smart him here. I picked up my key and gently wrangled it back in place.

    This was so amusing to him that he thought he’d try it a second time. And so about half an hour later, there I was following him around the room again with a little white rectangle in his mouth. He knows, he just *knows* that this is the best way to get my attention and he does it. He’s much smarter than most pets, and his tiny size enables his trouble-making with the added benefit of escaping in a hurry and looking adorable doing it.

    After him falling into a cup of water a couple weeks ago, I no longer can have any beverages in the room with him. Not anything. And certainly not a cup of coffee because I’m sure the last thing a hyperactive chipmunk needs is a caffeine bath! So when I had some coffee I would put him away for a little bit. But he’s got so much energy he can’t stand even our big cage, so I gulped down my Kona blend and let the little guy out again.

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)

    One super cute pic of Artie, just to prove he's my favorite :)


    While writing this, I had my right arrow key stolen. This time he just accidentally dropped it and I was a little quicker at picking it up. He only steals the arrow keys. So far the “up” key is the only one he hasn’t taken, and now the right key has a nice big chipmunk sized bite in it, which was presumably taken with such force because he knew I was right on him to scoot his butt some place else.

    You can’t tell a chipmunk “no.” You can say it to them for your own benefit, but they won’t get anything out of it. Unlike dogs who are in tune with what humans mean and the importance of the symbiotic relationship they have, chipmunks don’t need us and don’t care if we need them. Artie is genuinely sweet when he wants to be. But he’s still a wild animal and is only domesticated to the point to understand the living situation he is in, not so much that we love his little stripes and that we raised him since before he could see.

    You can’t put him in “the doghouse.” You’ll just feel bad putting him in his cage when you’re able to have him out and end up letting him out again.

    You can’t tell him, “seriously, you just ate my favorite necklace.” No you can’t. I would know. I look over after letting him out again, and there he is, chewing on my favorite necklace I got from a cute couple from Africa at a local farmer’s market. Little glass and wooden beads spilled everywhere! As I was scooping them up, so was Artie– right into his mouth! He was even trying to eat the glass ones until I distracted him and he just dropped them. He didn’t get away without demolishing a couple of the wooden beads, just for good measure, to round off his day of shenanigans.

    I still haven’t put him away. He’s got too much energy still! The human mind can’t process enough frames per second to even see his little feet move when he’s running or grooming himself. So while simple things like running appear as a blur to most humans, you have to keep that in mind if you’re going to open a door around this little guy. Even putting him in his cage gets difficult when he’s fast like this.

    Well, I was going to make this post longer, but with all the attacks from Artie nibbles I think I’ll get back to non-click-a-clack sounding projects.

    California Chipmunk species log:
    9/11/2009
    Newly discovered behavior characteristics: endlessly curious, stubborn, like to inspect the world with their mouths, an ability to adapt quickly enough to their surroundings to be able to escape/sneak treats/get attention as they please.
    Artie’s tail is looking better and he never seemed to be bothered much by the terrible and mysterious loss of his tail.
    He’s hoarding and getting fatter as the weather cools, and he’s also slowed down in his growth rate.


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

    August 30, 2009 by admin

    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