Sunday, August 03, 2008

My chipmunk adopted by another chipmunk family

Jaya tells me that she saw a squirrel jump out from the hole in the Electricity meter box. Actually this chipmunk nest she discovered, was the fourth in our home. This one was inside the electric meter box. Looks like it is clearly the breeding season. I checked it out the day I came to know of it and I was surprised to find the tail of the mommy chipmunk protruding out of the nest. I silently closed the door of the box. The box has two compartments and one window of the second compartment is never opened. I really feared for my wiring and the safety of the chipmunk (and its babies if there were any).

The next day I decided to check the nest. Meanwhile the chipmunk at my sister's place had been transferred to my home. I even tried to acclimatise it to the other abandoned nest I found earlier. So in the morning I made sure mommy chipmunk has left the nest. I opened the second door of the electricity meter box and I was not surprised to find the nest inside. I tried disturbing the nest a bit and the noise from inside confirmed there were babies inside. I took out the nest and tried searching for the babies and as survival would have it the two of them were trying to hide inside the darker areas now that I was trying to open it and let more light inside. What a survival technique I thought to myself, even with their eyes not fully open. The two babies seemed much younger to the chipmunk I already had as their bodies were still pink though the three familiar line marks were already visible on their bodies. I was careful not to touch them lest they mommy should abandon them too.

It was now I had a flash of an idea. Why not insert our chipmunk baby into this nest. So I took the little one along with a little portion of his nest and attached the next to the new one. He seemed to immediately like the new nest and started exploring and then moving deeper into it like his new siblings. Soon only his tail was visible. I took a pic of the little one and his new found siblings before I left the nest back inside the box where I took it from.

Now all I had to do was wait. There were only three possibilities. The new one would be 1. accepted, 2. rejected and the worst 3. killed? I was sure no.3 would not take place.

I had to leave my home for a short while and by the time I rushed back I saw mommy chipmunk already peeping from the hole in the box. I instantly knew she was back for her little ones. Now that the nest had been disheveled I knew she would take her kids away to another place. I closed the door of my home and kept looking at the box from the peep-hole of the door. After a long wait (patience is the key) the mother was back. The lens in the peep-hole was not big enough to reveal what was in its mouth but the mother was already carrying away a little one. But which one, I couldn't make that out. I waited again. This time I decided to open my door a bit and see a bigger picture. It came again and this time I could see it carry another little one in its mouth. As it ran around my house I followed it and with all the speed it could muster carried its little one into a bush outside the rear compound wall of my home. It was aware of me following it. I went inside and waited again. After a short while it came again. This time however it left alone. Then after a long time it didn't show up. I knew then that it would never come back.

It was now time for the acid test. I decided to check the nest. I was only praying that my chipmunk was rescued and my prayer was answered. All three babies had been carried away to a safe place. Thank God Squirrels cannot count or is it that mothers always care for abandoned little ones.


Anonymous said...

I wonder whether if you could advise how to get rid of a chipmunk (at least one) and its nest out of my airconditionner? I cannot hear any babies, but of course that doesnt mean there aren't any. When do they have babies (India) and when is it safe to get rid of the nest? If there are babies obviously I don't want to disturb it, however I don't want a nest in the airconditionner either!
Any help you could give through this blog would be gratefully received.

Subash S L said...

Hello Anonymous,

First of all is the nest inside your Window or Split air-conditioner or somewhere in an opening near the air-conditioner. If you are not hearing babies then it doesn't mean there aren't any inside. If the mother notices you peering or poking the nest then rest-assured she is going to take them to another standby nest. This has happened to me. However there is also a possibility of it abandoning the nest (which is rare). In two cases of mine the mother took her babies away. One with two babies and the other with three. Don't use a sharp pointed stick,but try to push the nest in the absense of the mother to see if you hear any sounds. If you do then wait for the mother to come and then do that again. This time the mother will know the nest has been discovered and she may relocate the babies. Observe and it will even be fun. But sometimes the mother is only preparing the nest. So for this a careful inspection of the nest is necessary. Sometimes the nest might have been used and then abandoned when the little ones have grown and left. Do it carefully though.