The end of a chipmunk!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Andy, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I just have to shake my head and roll my eyes at this one.

    difficult child caught a chipmunk in his live trap. In his words, chipmunks are not a problem, they don't eat much so they can be let go. (the live trap is to catch the squirrels that are getting into his bird feeder)

    So, he goes to let the chipmunk loose and the neighbor's dog gets involved. Without getting into more details, the chipmunk is dead.

    What does difficult child do with it to keep the neighborhood dogs at bay? Throws it into our garbage can (atleast it is the outdoor one!). I asked if the garabage has been picked up yet? Yes! So, we have a dead chipmunk at the bottom of an empty garbage can destined to sit there until next Thursday's pick up. Icky to extremes! Especially since we are FINALLY suppose to get 80 + degree temps this weekend.

    I told him to take the pooper scooper and get it out of the garbage can! He has actually done as I asked. He threw it into the lake so is afraid the neighbor's dog will see it floating, swim out and drag it back!

  2. Giselle

    Giselle New Member

    Honestly it all sounds like a very bad plan to keep trapping the squirrels because they're eating from the bird feeder. If they're just being moved to another area, that's possibly illegal in your area to relocate wild animals. But regardless it seems a bit cruel to me - he may be trapping ones who have babies who need their mamas to survive, and it's quite terrifying for a wild animal to be trapped (and for what is a fairly trivial reason). It also seems very inefficient - as long as there's food there, they're going to keep coming.

    You've got to squirrel-proof the feeder

    Hope this wasn't offensive, but I think there must be better ways to handle the basic situation. It must have been a terrifying and painful death for the chipmunk, and that's quite sad, especially as it was unnecessary.
  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Chipmunks and squirrels are rodents. No need to protect them. No harm done in trapping them.
  4. Giselle

    Giselle New Member

    That surprises me. I think that every animal that can feel pain, fear, and can suffer - and chipmunks and squirrels certainly can - deserves consideration. Now, removing animals from inside our houses is one thing, but messing with them or hurting them in their home - outside - for trivial reasons doesn't seem compassionate.

    I think it's always been a challenge for us humans to value the subjectivity of others, especially when they don't look like us, or we find ways to distance ourselves from their suffering or pain.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I am not in the least bit surprise. This arguement has been going on for ages. Animal Rights people feel just as strongly about their beliefs as those who just don't see what the big deal is.

    Everyone views animals differently when it comes to rodents and animals that are pests on their land.

    No one will change each others views. I am certainly not going to try to make you change your views. I do understand and respect your insight. My beliefs just don't go that far. I am not saying you are wrong. I know what you are saying, I just don't believe it as deeply as you do.

    We just have to accept that this is another of a dozen issues that will not get compromised on anytime soon so I leave it to the animal advocacies to continue to fight for what they believe in.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm an animal lover but also practical. I have some ideas for you to hopefully help.

    First a clarification - rodents aren't automatically pests. I can't personally speak for whether squirrels & chipmunks are pests in your area, but they don't automatically come into the same category as rats & mice. (At least it's not a capybara - the world's biggest rodent.)

    However, when it comes to understanding the interface between wildlife and human civilisation - we're experts here Down Under! Especially at our place, so close to the fringe of the city.

    Everyone else in the world marvels at Aussie parrots, would pay a fortune to own one (acquiredlegally or illegally). Bird smuggling is rife simply because it's almost impossible to legally acquire something as common as a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. In Australia when we say "cockatoo" we mean these big white things.

    For us, the cockatoos are pests. So are galahs (the pink and grey cousins to the cockoatoo). They're seed eaters, grain robbers, crop devastators. When I was a kid, galahs & cockatoos were only protected inside national parks. Everywhere else they were shot & poisoned. Now they're protected, although I think farmers can get permits. Despite being protected, most Aussies still despise cockatoos and galahs, especially when the cockatoos eat their houses (they chew oon timber houses, can destroy a house) or the galahs descend in thick numbers to pillage an entire wheatfield (I've seen it - it's a terrifying sight).

    To anyone else inthe world, especially people who love our Aussie parrots, it is unthinkable for anyone to shoot or poison such a beautiful, intelligent and long-lived creature. Me - I love them, but I fully agree with discouraging them from being fed in the neighbourhood (some people do, incurring the wrath of neighbours in timber houses).

    So much as I would love to own a pet squirrel or chipmunk and much as I love living creatures in general, I do understand difficult child trying to protect his bird feeder. The chipmunk was an unfortunate unintended death. And a suggestion between now and garbage day - put the corpse in the freezer. It's what we do if we have a feed of seafood, we put the prawn heads etc in the freezer and put it in the garbage just before pick-up.

    But I do agree that the best long-term solution is going to be to do the utmost to thief-proof the feeder. This could be a great opportunity to explain to difficult child about animal territories, animal behaviour in general and how to find ingenious ways to defeat some very intelligent creatures who are also fast learners. Failing that - resign yourself to buying extra rations to feed the wildlife too.

    We have similar problems with our Brushtail Possums. We love our possums, but they also love hanging around human habitation and either eating the roses or raiding the bins. People do hand-feed the possums and this really doesn't cause a problem - they're adorable, even wild possums can seem very tame (I've never been bitten except when I persisted trying to feed kiwifruit to one which had already discarded it in disgust).
    But possums can be a problem to householders here, especially if they get in the roof. They like to have a cosy place to sleep during the day but when they wake up at night, the sound of them galumphing through the attic can scare the kids. They can also chew up stuff in the attic to make a comfortable bed. And they piddle everywhere.

    So various businesses and pest companies included possum removal in their services, for years. Doing much the same as your difficult child intended, Andy. Now it could be argued that with possums, if you catch the mother then you also have caught any dependent offspring (although not always). Babies not in the pouch will generally be riding on the mother's back and certainly sleeping with her.

    But the laws have had to change to ban these companies form putting traps out. They were using live traps and doing it humanely, but the problems were as follows:

    1) If you catch a possum in the roof and then take it away to be released elsewhere, you have Occupational Therapist (OT) take it A LONG WAY AWAY because they will find their way back. You have to take it at least 20 miles away.

    2) when you remove a possum from its territory and then release it elsewhere, you are destabilising TWO territories. First, the territory where the possum was living has just lost a possum and tis leads to local fights as they re-establish who owns which patch. Second, the possum released out of territory is almost certainly on the losing side of a new territory dispute because the interloper rarely wins a fight. And there will be a fight if there are already possums in that release area.

    3) When a problem possum is removed, another one will move in. It really doesn't take long before another possum will happen along and discover warm, dry accomodation in your roof, plenty of food trees (and a handy rubbish bin) and amazingly vacant; it will then move in.

    mother in law moved in to her new house knowing there was a resident possum that liked to spend each night in the garage. It's a brick garage with a rolladoor at each end. Possum likes the high shelves or the spot in the corner above the rolladoor. I've even known them to sleep inside the drum of the rolladoor (which gets them VERY annoyed when you open the door while they're trying to sleep!).

    But neighbours have cats. There have been two occasions when the resident possum was killed by cats. On one occasion mother in law found the dead possum plus two baby possums - she was very upset.
    But within weeks, there is always a new possum living in her garage. She's happy to leave it there knowing that if she goes to a lot of trouble to have it removed she will spend money and be inconvenienced only to have another move in.

    So the best option - learn about the pest animal. Find out their behaviours, their preferred foods, other aspects of these animals. Then use this knowledge to improve what you are doing in some way.
    For example with our possums - people who don't want them in their roofs shouldn't whinge without doing something sensible about it. Don't complain about a possum in your roof if you have not blocked up holes. Same thing with rats & mice infesting your house - remove them for sure, but find out where they are getting in and block up the access as best as you can. Try to time blocking it up with the time of day when they will be out of the building, or you will in a week or so be investigating an uunpleasant smell... [we have a lot of wild possums named "Elvis" - as in "Elvis has left the building - now block up that hole!"]

    For difficult child's bird feeder, it will be tricky because I've seen how clever these critturs are in defeating the thief-proofing. Is the feeder for wild birds or for pets?

    Something we've done (we have to defeat cockatoos) is to either find a food that the birds like that the squirrels don't or to only put food on the feeder when you're physically present. Hand-feed them.

    For example - we used to feed cockatoos because they ARE gorgeous and we don't live in a timber house. However, we learned that it's a bad idea. So we changed to a wild bird mix that the cockatoos don't like so much (one without sunflower seeds). We still have the cocky-preferred mix and there is ONE pair of cockatoos we will hand-feed (the female has a missing claw on one foot) but only during nesting season and only if no other cockatoos are present to see what we're doing. We have to be THAT sneaky!

    But te main wild bird people like to hand-feed here is the Rainbow Lorikeet. They will also eat seed, but love nectar. So instead of putting out seed, we will sometimes put out a nectar mix which is like a very dilute baby cereal. The cockatoos can't get it (their tongue is the wrong shape) do only the lorikeets come in for it. PLus we put out big bowls of water - again, the lorikeets love to play in water, the cockies don't care.

    We've changed our pattern in order to reduce the problem.

    With our 'pet' pair of cockies, we put out a small amount of seed when these birds turn up, then when they fly away we remove the bowl of seed and hide it in the barbecue. Sometimes we will stand there and hold the dish while the birds eat out of it.

    Other families living nearby do similar things - the wild birds will actually come and tap on the window to ask for some food.

    However, the authorities do try to discourage people form feeding wild birds - if the birds get too accustomed to food being readily available, they have too much free time on teir hands and get up to mischief (like eating houses). Also when you go away or stop feeding them, they may suffer because they've forgotten how to forage for themselves or they are out of touch with where the wild food is. So be aware of this as well.

    The general advice for us these days - it's great to put out water for wild things. And if you want to feed them, only do it occasionally unless there is a genuine environmental need (such as after our bushfires, or during a hard winter).

    Another option for your difficult child Andy - find a food that the chipmunks and squirrels absolutely adore, then put it in a feeder that really challenged them. Put tihs feeder at the opposite end of the garden to the bird feeder, and pray that the beasties are too busy trying to get their favourite food from the challenging feeder, to raid the easier but less tasty seed.

    I love wildlife. I love to watch it, I love knowing that so many things live here with us. But it comes at a cost, and that means we have to put up with some inconvenience. However, our kids can learn so much in how to adapt to other living creatures as well as how to survive without getting exploited by them either. I grew up as a farm girl, I understand both sides.

    It's sad about that chipmunk. A pity the dog got to it - but that could have happened simply with the chipmunk being attracted to your place by the presence of the bird feeder. It's not difficult child's fault. But I tihnk his current approach is doomed to failure, he needs to re-think and find a more effective method. It's a really good exercise to learn to think outside the square!

  7. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Well said Andy. We are not a family who hunts or traps or has to deal with much wildlife in general but I understand that others who live in the country view things differently. While the whole time I am reading that story, I'm thinking about the poor little chipmunk and how cute squirrels are (I actually bought a squirell feeder because they are so fun to watch) I realize that people view things differently based on their own life experiences and you did a great job communicating that fact without being judgmental.