After five glorious days of watching the babies poke their heads out of the burrow with mom pushing them back down, seeing the babies standing up at the top of the burrow and playing what looked like patty-cake with each other (my degus do that, too!), and exploring places not too far from mom, they have left home! I thought they would be around much longer, at least a week or two. The babies will now have to find an abandoned burrow or dig a new one while avoiding predators including humans, stock their burrow with enough food for the winter by the end of October when they will go into torpor until they re-emerge in April or May, all without any training whatsoever. Instinct is truly awe-inspiring, and the life of a chipmunk continues to fascinate me.
Unlike any other chipmunk I’ve know or read about, and going against all instinct, there was a chipmunk eating seeds on our deck instead of stuffing his cheeks and bringing them back to his burrow to store for the coming winter. People wonder how I know the gender of a chipmunk. It’s always been a guess and this one was a give-away: Ricky, as I named him, would gladly eat what I served him but then always left the shells behind so that I had clean up his mess. “Typical man!” friends would say when I shared the latest chipmunk news. (It warms my heart that people ask and take an active interest in their antics. If they don’t ask I tell them anyway.)
In reality I had no idea what was actually in store for the future. Ricky was not all what he seemed to be, and neither was Tailor, the chipmunk living in our side yard with a black “ring” around her tail and named after Elizabeth Taylor who loved and kept many chipmunks as pets and had a famous fondness for jewelry.