Whitesburg KY

Chris the Chipmunk stayed for some time

Points East

I had a fellow call me up one night last week to see if I could help him solve a problem.

He said a ground squirrel (chipmunk) somehow got into his house about a month ago and refuses to leave. He had heard from somebody that I’d once been in the same fix and he wanted to know what I’d done about it.

I told him that mine stayed around from October, on through one whole winter, part of the next spring and the only reason I could figure out that he left then was because he developed an interest in girls.

Ralph King’s dad caught the one I had in a box trap to keep it out of his feed shed. I offered to take it out to my place and turn it loose in the woods. However, Loretta and I had three curious kids at home and all in school at the time.

I brought the trap into our kitchen, put on a leather glove and reached inside the trap believing I could catch him and show him to the kids up close and personal. There was no problem, incidentally, in discerning that it was in fact a “him.”

Anyway, when I reached inside the box, Chip, as he later became known, dodged my hand, ran up my arm, up the back of my neck and head, across the top of my cap where he used the bib as a springboard and launched himself out into the middle of the floor. The floor was linoleum and well waxed at that. Chip hit the floor and began spinning around. His little legs and feet were a blur but he couldn’t get traction. I got down on all fours and began grabbing at him but he’d squeeze through my glove and leap away.

This went on for maybe five minutes. Loretta and the kids were all squealing. She and Carol were yelling in near terror, “Catch it! Catch it!! Catch it!

Jennifer and Chris, sixth and second graders respectively, were clapping and cheering for the rodent. “Run little squirrelly. Run! Run!”

All four of them were standing on furniture as Chip and I scurried about on the floor. Finally he hit the living room carpet where he gained immediate traction and shot under the sofa faster than a speeding bullet.

We turned the couch over and he dashed under a chair and finally into a bedroom. We searched for an hour and couldn’t find him and assumed that he had gone out a window because it was this time of year and we had a couple open.

About 10 hours later, just after midnight, Chris came into our bedroom and advised his mom and me that he couldn’t sleep because something was chewing on something under his bed. Sure enough, a flashlight search revealed the chipmunk hunkered up on the floor munching on something. It looked like a pinto bean. We never really knew for sure.

But everybody in the house was awakened, all the doors propped open but Chip refused to exit even when the path was clear. Even with four humans seemingly having him cornered, he would feint this way and then that and run between our legs back into the deep interior of the house.

I finally convinced everybody that chipmunks were harmless, that I still had Ralph’s trap and that I would simply catch him that way. I baited the trap with several peanuts and we all went back to bed. The next morning there were no peanuts in the trap nor was there a chipmunk. There were peanut hulls all over the kitchen floor but no chipmunk to be found even after a thorough search.

This went of for four or five nights in a row. I tried peanut butter but he wouldn’t touch it. I set the trap spring so that if I even blew on the tripper the door would slam shut. But he could still get a dozen peanuts out without getting caught. So I finally gave up and determined that we would starve him out.

By this time, the kids had decided that he was, in fact, harmless and they had named him Chip. Not only that, but they were not about to let me starve a poor, living creature. So they began leaving peanuts on the kitchen floor. We would see him now and again, hear him munching in the wee hours of the night or catch him right in the act in broad daylight when we came home in the evenings.

The amazing thing to me is that he ate several bags of whole, unsalted peanuts but we never once found anything that we recognized as chipmunk poop.

Then one spring day I was putting in some tulip bulbs and I could hear chipmunks chirping in the woods behind our house. I assume these were mating chirps. Chip ran out of the house, onto the front porch and stood up on his haunches to listen a bit more closely. Then he tore across the yard and headed for the woods. The kids tried leaving peanuts on the picnic table, on the porch floor on rocks out in the lawn but he never returned.

So my advice to those of you with chipmunks in your house is this. Stock up on whole, unsalted, raw peanuts and only put out two or three a day on your kitchen floor because, if you do put out more, the chipmunk may store them in a mattress. Vacuum often and leave your door open on the first warm day come mating time next spring if you still wish to be rid of the little critter.

Chances are, however, that your kids will be plenty upset when your chipmunk falls in love with a wild woman.

“Why did you have to leave the stupid door open in the first place?” was the reaction I received when Chip did not come home.

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