Alvin, his mate, children, grandchildren, family and friends have taken up residence down here in south Rockdale in my yard and around the patio. Oh, it was fine for a while until these chipmunks began to outnumber me.
They were fun to watch as they quickly darted about the yard looking for nuts, fruit or seeds to carry back to one of the many burrows they had dug around the gardens and under the house.
I’m sure other people know what I’m talking about when I say these diggers and burrowers in large numbers can become a nuisance. They live pretty much all over the United States. Sure, they are cute, squirrels about 9.5 inches long, graceful with tan and black stripes around the eyes and on the tail. Too many can become too many!
Sitting on the patio and watching them, they seem most active in the warm months and apparently winter in the burrows dug around the yard. At any rate, Alvin’s crew went about their daily routines until recently when finally they got themselves into trouble. They began digging around prized plants, sneaked under the house and made night noises. They began eating up the birdseed faster than the birds did. Alvin and friends kept us busy refilling feeders to the point we renamed the bird feeders “squirrel feeders.”
Something had to give. We bought a trap, one you can catch small animals with and not injure them. Who would want to harm Alvin anyway? After all, songs have been written and sung about him, and he is a movie star. All we really wanted to do was catch and relocate him … and we did! We set our trap on the patio, baited it with sunflower seeds, and to date have caught eight chipmunks. We have relocated them to a wooded area near the South River where we feel there is ample food and water for them, and where they can dig to their heart’s content! The four wrens we caught were released on site and still fly from tree to tree around here.
My wife has warned me that if I did not carry Alvin and friends far enough away that they might return any day now. So far, so good. The trap is still set out back and there have been no more catches. (In spite of my spouse saying she has seen yet a couple more scampering up the hill toward the blueberry bushes!)
The way chipmunks reproduce, we could have new offspring soon. Females give birth to four or five offspring in May or June, and have another litter in August. If we have failed in catching all of the pesky ones, we might have to start over with yet another population next spring.
I shall really miss watching these little critters as they scamper about seeking food. What I shall not miss is the damage they do around the property.
I have a feeling the neighbor’s cat is angry with me for removing one of his food sources. He spent hours stalking some of these ground squirrels, and he caught a few of them. The snakes around here probably got their share as well.
So, goodbye, Alvin. It was nice knowing you, but I’m sure you will enjoy your new hunting grounds. All good things eventually end. We didn’t intend selling you down the river; however, that may be the happiest place you can be. Cheerio!
Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.