Driving down my road I occasionally see these little creatures shoot across with tails held straight up. These are Eastern Chipmunks.
Both chipmunks and ground squirrels live in Missouri. The ground squirrels are bigger with different coloring and don’t seem to live in my valley.
Except for an occasional sighting chipmunks aren’t noticed much either. My cats catch those that move into the yard. Their favorite routine is to bring the chipmunk into the house and let it go.
Cats do have a sense of humor and must enjoy watching me try to corner a terrified little rodent, scoot it into a container kept ready for such emergencies and slam the lid on. The chipmunk is then carried off down the road beyond where the cats normally go and turned loose.
For some reason I had believed eastern chipmunks, like woodchucks, hibernated during the winter. So I was surprised to see several of them busy gathering acorns on a walk down the road.
Chipmunks do not hibernate. They do stay home in their burrows in cold weather. This means they must gather up a supply of food to snack on. Acorns are popular snacks.
That is exactly what these busy creatures were doing when I noticed them. It was hard to not notice one of them.
Most wildlife wants to avoid people. The birds keep flying off to a tree further down the road. Deer bound off white tails waving. Squirrels streak up the trees.
Eastern chipmunks often do take off and are only rustling in the leaves. One was determined to get another acorn. It darted across the road about ten feet in front of me, stuffed two acorns in its cheek pouches, sat on a fallen branch to assess what I was up to and darted back across the road.
The little rodent didn’t go far. It raced up a fallen tree and across to a perch on another fallen branch to eat an acorn. I assume it was the same one. I saw two or three others in the area.
The next morning was twenty-five degrees. It warmed up quickly and I went walking. The chipmunks had all stayed in their burrows.