The Urban Pantheist (urbpan) wrote,
The Urban Pantheist
urbpan

365 Urban species. #321: Eastern Chipmunk


Photo by cottonmanifesto.

What makes one rodent cute and another rodent vermin? A furry, rather than scaly tail? Stripes? Cheek pouches? I submit that it is merely context. In the forest, a rodent is an adorable sprite, dashing about gathering nuts. If you are the steward of a collection of captive animals, rodents are filthy thieves, taking food and leaving crap. This sums up my attitude toward chipmunks.

Until fairly recently, I did not consider chipmunks to be urban animals. But once I began to frequent the southern edges of The Emerald Necklace in Boson, my opinion changed. Olmsted Park and Franklin Park are both bristling with chipmunks. They seem to need a fair amount of forest, especially but not exclusively oak forest, and that needs to be messy forest, with rocks and logs for cover. They also need a good stretch of soil (not concrete and asphalt) in which to construct their burrows. Gray squirrels are more common in cities, since they need only the trees as refuge--soil, it seems, is a more rare commodity. Their burrows are where they dart when alarmed, and they are often alarmed. Small mammals survive by being cautious, if not downright twitchy. The burrows are also where they construct their larders of stored acorns and beech nuts. When they aren't eating plant material, they are surprisingly predatory, eating insects, salamanders, and even mice.

Like many rodents, chipmunks are opportunistic, and given access to a food source, they will enter homes and other buildings. As alluded to earlier, one of their favorite haunts is the city zoo.

Here's where I ask you to post your chipmunk pictures in the comments.
Tags: 365 urban species, animals, chipmunks, eastern chipmunk, mammals, rodents, squirrels, ward's pond
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