Friday, July 6, 2012

Let's Go to the Land of Chipmunks! (A Letter to our Grandkids)

A Michigan Chipmunk

Dear V and L,
When you go to Michigan soon, I hope you will keep an eye out for the chipmunks.  They are just about the cutest creatures in the whole state.  When my sister and brothers and I were growing up on the Menominee River, we would sometimes look out the dining room window and watch the chipmunks scampering around on the ground below.  They were gathering up seeds that had fallen from our mother’s birdfeeder and carrying them home to their nests.  Chipmunks are pretty noisy little guys.  They chirp and squeak and sound like birds.  They are not so easy to find, but, if you watch carefully each day, I’m sure you will see some. 

Ottawa Indians

Chipmunks got their name from the Ottawa Indians who actually called them “Chitmunks”.  Chitmunk means “red squirrel” in the Ottawa language.  Chipmunks have also been called “chipmincks”, “chipmucks”, “chippers”, “munks”, “Hackees”, and “timber tigers” (because of their splendid stripes). .  

A Siberian Chipmunk

Chipmunks don’t live in New Orleans, but they do live in many other parts of the United States, in Canada, and in China.  The chipmunk in this picture is called a Siberian Chipmunk, and it comes from the Wisdom Valley in Northern China.

The Entrance to a Chipmunk Burrow

Chipmunks live by themselves in burrows under the ground.  Each chipmunk digs its own personal burrow.  This is a picture of the entrance to a chipmunk’s burrow.  Burrows can be 9 or 10 feet long, a lot longer than you or me or your mom or dad.  Chipmunks keep their houses very clean.  The chipmunk builds a nest of leaves and grass in its biggest room  They store their food in smaller rooms, and they put their garbage like old acorn shells in other  rooms.  When winter comes, chipmunks stay in their burrows all winter long and are sound asleep almost all the time.  

This Chipmunk Has Food in His Mouth

Chipmunks have big pouches in their cheeks so they can carry their food around with them and eat whenever they feel hungry.  Like people, chipmunks like to eat lots of different foods.  They like seeds the best.  They also climb trees to gather nuts and fruit. 

In the spring and fall when food is scarce, chipmunks eat other kinds of food …. like WORMS.  (Yuk!)  

Or they eat BUGS.  (Ick!!)

Or they even eat LITTLE FROGS.   (Aagghhh!!!)

The Fox is the Chipmunk’s Enemy

Chipmunks can run very fast, and they have to because they have enemies who would like to catch them and eat them up.  Their enemies include foxes, weasels, big snakes, hawks, and wild cats.  Even when they’re sleeping at night, chipmunks keep on the alert to watch out for enemies.  Our family dogs, whose names were Mike and Micki, used to chase the chipmunks, but they never were able to catch them.    

Baby Chipmunks

Mother chipmunks have new babies each spring.  Usually she has four or five babies all at once.  The babies are teeny-tiny, don’t have any hair at first, and can’t see anything.  But by the time they are eight weeks old, they leave the nest and go out into the world to live on their own.

Chipmunks are important to people because they bury their seeds all around in the dirt, and that helps new trees and shrubs to grow.  And people get lots of enjoyment from watching chipmunks in their yards or in the forest.  In fact, when you go to Michigan there is only thing that will be as cute as the chipmunks – and that is ….

L and V


G-mail Comments
-Terry O-S (7-15): Dear David,  I'm still summering in Ocean City NJ and experiencing certain computer limitations which means I don't see  Letters for George as regularly as before. I caught up recently and  it sounds like a trip to Menominee is going to happen for at least some of your family. Has Katja recovered sufficiently for it to include the two of you? I want to heartily endorse your recommendation with regard to chipmunks! I'm not going to get there this year but am still hopeful for next.  If you go, blow  kiss to the Bay for me! (You can extend your own regards to the river!)  Best,Terry 
-Phyllis S-S (7-10):  Dear Dave,  This blog was just adorable.  I didn't know all this information about chipmunks and found it fascinating.  How's Katja?  Going to Michigan looking good?  Phyllis
-Donna D (7-7):  david, this is one of your best ever!!  donna

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