A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong

We used to have dozens of chipmunks all over our woods. Cheeky little things. If we were “in their way (!),” they would come out onto the driveway and chatter at us.

I know a lot of people don’t like them, but they are funny and for something so small, have a lot of attitude.

One day, a bobcat — a pregnant bobcat — moved into our neighbor’s woodshed and had a little of four cubs. Bobcats don’t live collectively, so all but one of the cubs … and mom too … moved to other parts of the woods. In any case, considering how hungry these little cats seem to be, they need room to find food.

They ate every rabbit, chipmunk, squirrel … basically anything furry and cute. The next generation was born in my tepee. I remember the day I opened the door to my tepee and out leaped a bobcat. New England’s bobcats are about the size of a large housecat, but you’d know immediately it was no house lounger. With the rump set much higher than their front legs — the better to do some incredible leaping — and that funny pointed little tail, not to mention their glowing eyes that shine like torches … that ain’t no pussycat, no sirree.

The bobcat leaped from the tepee. I squawked and moved out of the way. I explained to the cat “Mi casa, su casa,” and I don’t think I ever went into the tepee again.

By the time that second litter was grown and on their own, they used to sit in front of the dog’s fence just to make the dogs bark in a frenzy. I would go out and yell at them to leave the dogs alone. They totally ignored me and would saunter slowly off into the woods.

So this is the first chipmunk I’ve seen since then. I haven’t seen a rabbit yet, but I figure if a chipmunk has found his way home, eventually the rabbits will come back, too.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

19 thoughts on “A VISITOR TO THE DECK – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. You don’t have rabbits? How is that even possible? We have rabbit holes all over our 1/3 acre, and plenty of baby bunnies. Of course, we don’t have bobcats. At least as far as I know – there was some kind of weird looking feral cat out there the other day, which simply stood and GLARED at me. It was a little frightening. So far as I know, none of my neighbors have cats.

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    1. We used to have them but they were rather tame. All they had to worry about were foxes. Then came coyotes, but they could outrun them. The Bobcats were amazing jumpers. I saw one jump from my roof, to my deck (scared the wits out of me — I didn’t know Bobcats could climb up on the roof!) to the lawn and just one more hop to the tepee, after which he turned on his lights and went hunting. Two leaps, about 60 feet and he wasn’t trying hard. I don’t think the bunnies were ready for that. They used to sun themselves on the back lawn and I would tiptoe around to not frighten them. We also have deer and now, bears … though not many. I’m just hoping we don’t get moose, too. That would definitely cause a bit of chaos. We don’t have wide roads and avoiding a moose isn’t easy.

      Did you know that the most commonly caused injury to humans by wild creatures are moose and people? It’s the traffic — and of course, rutting season. You must have them in your area.

      Smart people don’t drive at night during rutting season! OR right after the babies are born.

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  2. He is a cute little guy and where there is one little chipmunk there has to be a mum and a dad chipmunk so maybe they are slowly coming back. Your deck has a great reputation with woodland creatures.

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    1. The Bobcats have moved on to areas with more food. They eat a lot and the pretty much cleaned out this (about 60 acre) area. After they ate everything, they moved. The thing is that New England, no longer a big farming community, is between 60% and 75% trees, so animals come from quite a distance to live here.

      Where there are mostly trees, too many animals have crowded into a rather small area. We keep destroying their habitats and the more condensed their living areas, the hungrier they get. Destruction is not just bad for us, it’s terrible for all the small, wild things, too.

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  3. I love chipmunks and used to enjoy having them come to visit on the terrace while living in Michigan. One time a little one was so intent on getting sunflower seeds from me that it ran right up my torso and landed on my head. That was quite a surprise!

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    1. They are surprisingly friendly, too. They don’t become pets, but they will come up for a treat and hang around with the family. But they DO get rabies, so if you have one acting weird and aggressive (we killed one who tried to take on a very big Airdale and yes, he was rabid), kill it (we used a huge shovel — one solid whack on the head did it, but it was better than having a child or adult get bitten) and do NOT let it near humans or other warm-blooded animals. Rabies is rampant in many areas in North America. Skunks seem particularly prone to getting it. At least our dogs and cats are vaccinated (mostly).

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  4. I love chipmunks!! We had no squirrels or chipmunks in my little prairie town so when I first saw chipmunks in a trip to the Black Hills, I was crazy about them! I haven’t seen them for years. We have squirrels, but I’ve never seen a chipmunk in Mexico. (Although no squirrels in my backyard thanks to Morrie and Diego.)

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    1. They are very cute. They really have no special function except to eat bugs and mice and nuts and seeds and be really CUTE. it was fun when we had hordes of them, though we had to be careful to keep them OUTSIDE because if mice can make a mess, they can make a triple huge mess. But a very CUTE mess.

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    1. They are very cute and as I said, cheeky. They yell at you if you step into what they consider “their” space, even if you are sure it’s YOUR space. I don’t know if they would make good pets. i doubt it. They have too much attitude.

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  5. I love chipmunks, but don’t see them here. We have lots of bunnies in our greenspace — they love the grass! — and all around are coyotes and bobcats. The coyotes seem to leave the bunnies and take the small dogs and cats instead.

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    1. I suppose personal tastes differ. Ours ate EVERYTHING. The didn’t get the dogs, but they made a lot of noise and at the time, one of them was pretty big and the small mammals were easier to grab. It has been a long time since we’ve since we’ve seen one of these little guys!

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  6. I have one that comes to my patio and stands on his back legs waiting for a nut-he knows I throw them out to the birds. I can’t believe that with the bobcat! Scary!

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    1. That’s life in the wild. The bigger ones eat the smaller ones and the small ones eat the even smaller ones. Walt Disney notwithstanding, it’s not like joy in the meadow with Bambi and little furry friends.

      I try not to judge. They don’t have choices. Short of being tamed (usually, so we can grow them nice and fat and THEN kill and eat them), they consume what nature dictates. They can’t go to the grocery and buy food all neatly wrapped. They live and die as they were meant to. I think if WE hunted for food, we’d be a lot less greedy and a lot more cautious about caring for the earth.

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  7. So many squirrels, but I have yet to see a real, live chipmunk. Or a bobcat for that matter. Even now, living closer to the edge of the city, I’m still nowhere near the woods to get any real wildlife in my backyard other than squirrels, bunnies, and the occasional raccoon or possum…

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