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.
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.
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.
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:
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.