It’s a banner year for chipmunks. And no wonder. The boneheads who own the property they live on seem finally to have figured out how to create a chipmunk-friendly environment. They scatter cracked corn on the ground for their chickens. They’ve actually managed to grow a few nice tomatoes, just at ground level. And they leave big galvanized containers full of food in not just one, but two places – the chicken coop and the turkey pen.
To top it all off, they’re letting their geriatric cat live out her days alternating between sleeping on the bed and whining for the only kind of food she’s willing to eat – which isn’t chipmunk.
It makes for a chipmunk free-for-all, and we are positively overrun. Luckily, unlike some other varmints around here, they’re not a threat to the livestock, they don’t compromise the foundation of the house, and they’re not even very noisy, most of the time. The worst you can say about them is that they’re a nuisance.
At least, that’s what I thought until I did the math.
We have six turkeys. At this point in their lives, they’re probably eating between two and three pounds of food per week. Which means that a fifty pound bag of feed should last two and a half weeks, minimum. When the last bag was empty in seven days, I upgraded chipmunks from “nuisance” to “menace.” Stripey little bastards.
I marveled at how much food a band of tiny rodents could make off with. I’d seen them going back and forth to the feeder, but it never occurred to me that the amount of food they could take was significant. Is it a zillion little chipmunks, taking a few pellets at a time, or one Chipzilla, making off with a pound at a go?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to chipmunk-proof a turkey feeder. If the turkeys can get the feed, so can the chipmunks. I had no immediate idea how to solve the problem, but I thought I’d get a better handle on it by putting out the Varmintcam to see just what was going on.
This morning, I went through the photos.
Picture after picture of chipmunks cavorting in the turkey feeder. They go in the little tray, they go up over the top, they pick up what falls on the ground.
When night fell, there was a brief lull in the activity. I scrolled through a few photos with no chipmunks at all. And then, at 8:28 PM, I hit on the surprise.
But wait, there’s more! Two minutes later, the raccoon brought a friend. Two raccoons!
Okay, maybe not quite all night long. At around 2:00 AM they took a break. To let the opossums have a turn.
I’m not quite sure how they’re getting in, but I have my suspicions. There’s a spot where they can go over the fence but under the netting, and that may be what they’re doing. We’ll close that off, but we’ll take the added precaution of taking the feed out at night and putting it back in the morning.
Fortunately, the turkeys are too big, and roost too high up, for a raccoon to tackle, but I don’t want varmints to get in the habit of breaking and entering. Next year, we’ll have poults in there again, and it’ll be important to keep predators out.
Paula, at Weeding for Godot, bears a very particular and vehement antipathy for raccoons, and I’m beginning to come around to her point of view. They make the chipmunks look positively harmless. Thieving little bastards.