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As cute as they are, chipmunks are not suitable pets | Home & Garden

As cute as they are, chipmunks are not suitable pets |  Home & Garden

Thom Smith says he knows enough about chipmunks not to feed them. The chipmunk is a wild animal and should not be taken as a pet.


Q: Recently in the area of ​​the east region of William Street, a din of crows was heard all day long coming from the nearby woods. We imagine it could be called murder and the crows have been making a terrible noise all day. What could they do? (I can look them up if they continue.)

—Randy and Jackie R., Pittsfield

A: A group of crows is usually called a kill. It is also known as herd. And the term has been so called for centuries and is primarily a term for a large gathering. I guess not just a loud gathering when they attack a falcon for example. If you find the crowd or the nest, let me know. I remember about ten years ago while kayaking the Housatonic River at the “mouth” of Woods Pond, probably Lee, I found a new bald eagle nest almost finished. There must have been a dozen crows attacking the couple. When I returned a few days later the crows were gone and so were the bald eagles. They had abandoned the nest.

Q: Is it going to be a big year for chipmunks? I haven’t seen one for about a year and never as many as this year. Must be four or more in the back yard. Will they cause problems for our garden? (We’re new to this.) Do you know anything about them? Do they make good pets?

—Jimmy, Richmond

A simple piece of wire can scare away house sparrows and keep bluebirds safe inside nest boxes.

A: I have not heard of an increase in the species. Maybe the neighborhood cat has aged. I will say that this spring several chipmunks appeared for the first time in over a year in our garden, although this does not mean much. And as far as I know them, I know enough, I suppose, not to go out of my way to leave them alone and not feed them, just like I try not to feed his bigger rodent neighbor, l gray squirrel.

Today, I don’t consider native animals as pets, so I would say they wouldn’t make a good pet.

Eastern chipmunks are herbivores that feed (primarily) on seeds, nuts, and fruits, with occasional earthworms, slugs, and insects, as well as bird eggs and even mushrooms. Unlike their larger cousin the groundhog or woodchuck, they do not hibernate and store food for the winter, although they will emerge from their dens on warmer, sunnier winter days if they know of a feeder. at nearby birds where they can collect seeds.

They tend to live to be around eight years old, provided a hawk, fox, coyote, bobcat or house cat does not catch them as a meal.

There was a time when I kept wild, native and exotic animals (long before permits were needed). TODAY, I do not encourage wild animals to be kept as pets, nor do Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife.

In the early to mid-1960s, when I ran nature programs at the Berkshire Museum, I started keeping a variety of creatures. Someone brought me a baby chipmunk and I raised it as an educational caged live animal to focus on a small collection of ever-growing additions that would sometimes make a wonderful story. One thing I used animals for was as an example of how not to keep wild native animals as pets. There were a few additions to the department that we brought in as ‘pets’, for example a baby armadillo we named Amy, who lived to be 15, followed me around and was sometimes allowed to wander around the first floor of the museum before it opened. One of his favorite tasks was visiting the museum’s science curator, Bartlett Hendricks, and untying his shoelaces! Another was a Nepalese partridge which I believe was brought to a youngster in Stockbridge as a pet. He got fed up and gave it to me, which should have suggested it be given to a zoo.

Q: I remember you writing last summer about house sparrows coming into your shed to find seeds. Are they doing it again this year?

— Martha, Pittsfield

A: I believe the same individual arrived in mid-April and I found him wandering out of the garage where I spilled seeds again, probably unknowingly on purpose. I haven’t seen it as often because I haven’t found the millet that I usually offer to sparrows.

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