Outfoxed By a Chipmunk
Baby chipmunk being fed with a syringe by a wildlife rehabilitator

She came to us tiny, cold, and limp, a baby chipmunk barely a few weeks old. Prospects didn’t seem good. But it is amazing what warmth and tiny doses of Pedialyte can do. Within a day she was eating well, and very soon thriving. She grew. She grew plump. We added seeds, nuts, greens, and fruit to her diet. She ate them, but she didn’t want to give up her bottle. She grew stronger and plumper, but showed no intent of weaning.

One day while walking, I saw an adult chipmunk flash by. I realized with a start that Chipette was almost as big as the adult. The reality made me laugh out loud. We had been had—easily fooled by her demands because she was so very extremely cute. We were unable to push her out of the nest, and she took full advantage.

Chipmunk eating fruit
Chipette enjoying some fruits and nuts • Photo by Earthfire Institute

We started to pull back on the bottle, but worried whether we were doing the right thing. Yet she still seemed to be gaining weight—proof that she was better prepared for release than the intensity of her demands might suggest. We finally released her into the woods, equipping her with a safety cage (where she could seek refuge as needed while she explored her new surroundings) as well as a generous stash of food.

I wonder, if wild mothers didn’t chase their perfectly competent children away, just how long would they hang on?

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