Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nic vs. Nature

For the last three months (yes, MONTHS) I've had the worst kind of writing distraction. No one believes me when I tell them, either.

It's a chipmunk. Yes, really.

He has several holes in the flowerbed under the window of my home office. He's tunneled all around the bulkhead in the rear of my house, and he has two separate entrances to his chipmunk condo, located under my front stairs. He makes squeaky sounds all day long, attaining the greatest volume when he's sitting on my front stairs, in full view of my dog, Tipper. I think he does it specifically to torture her. Tipper sits by the front door and barks back, frustrated that she can't get the chipmunk, looking at me for help.

When it all started, I plugged up the chipmunk holes and emptied the bird feeder. I figured removing any food sources would deter the chipmunk. Maybe get him thinking about staking a claim to a large area in the woods behind my house, where he could build an entire chipmunk mansion without bothering anyone. No luck.

A nine-year-old kid in my neighborhood showed me a great trap, one that can catch a chipmunk without hurting it, so the animal can be re-released elsewhere. I dutifully set out the trap, baiting it with raisins and a couple Cheese Nips. Two days later, I caught a chipmunk. Wrong one. (Too small.) I drove that one out to a wooded area a few miles from my house, found a nice spot near a reservoir, and let it go.

I re-baited the trap, figuring if I could catch one chipmunk, surely I'd catch THE chipmunk. But no dice. After a few days, the neighborhood kid needed his trap back--he'd promised it to a relative with chipmunk problems--so I continued to plug the holes while I searched local hardware stores for a similar trap.

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I found the same exact trap at a hardware store I'd already visited. On night one, nothing happened. Night two, I caught a (very frightened) mouse, so I took him deep into the woods and let him go. On night three, nothing. But on day four, I caught two chipmunks--at once! I got excited for about a minute...when I saw that, once again, I hadn't caught Mr. Big. These were both little. Again, I drove the creatures out to a wooded area, but they managed to poop in my car en route (now I know to put newspaper under the trap when I transport it.)

For the next three days, the trap stayed empty. I decided to move it, camouflage it with leaves, and put extra raisins inside. Mr. Big found it, but proved he's smarter than I am. He tipped it over, knocked out the raisins, and then dug a hole directly under the trap.

So now I'm back to square one. Right at this moment, Mr. Big is sitting on my front step, torturing the dog while I try to write. I think he's actually enjoying it; if chipmunks could laugh, Mr. Big would be howling up a storm.

Any ideas? If you send me an idea that actually works, I'll send you a free autographed copy of any Niki Burnham book--your choice. I might even draw a picture of a chipmunk in it!

1 comment:

Jennifer Echols said...

I can't offer any chipmunk-catching advice, but I can empathize. I had the same trouble trying to catch a stray cat for medical care...long story. Suffice it to say that I had three nights of the WRONG CAT and several sneakily tipped tins of tuna before I finally succeeded. Keep at it!