The sign at the entrance of our neighborhood warns, in large letters, “COYOTES in the neighborhood! Guard your pets!”
When my husband read that he said, “Maybe they’ll eat the chipmunks.”
I, too, have grown to be a chipmunk hater.
For years, I thought they were cute and loveable. When I was a child, I enjoyed watching them in their animated forms being zany with all the other talking cartoon creatures of Saturday morning. I loved them and their striped-fur appeal throughout my adolescence and into the stages of my early adulthood.
I was charmed by them, still, when we met them, person-to-chipmunk, at Disneyworld. We had taken our two young, impressionable tots to the Minnie-Ha-Ha-Menehune – Make-Me-Say-Things-I-Can’t-Believe-I’m–Saying Character Breakfast at the Polynesian Villages Restaurant.
Chip and Dale were headliners then, along with Minnie Mouse in a grass skirt, and we were keen to meet the pair of chipmunks–terrifyingly large and plastic-eyed, though they were. We hugged their gigantic, faux-fur bodies, got their autographs, and even joined the conga line with them. They congaed like nobody’s business. We learned that we could tell the two of them apart because Chip has the “chocolate chip nose.”
Well, it’s all over, rodent. I’m a homeowner and a gardener now, and that piece of cocoa on your face is not going to save you.
These tiny, scampering little furballs may appear adorable and harmless, but in reality, they are treacherous. They tunnel under brick and concrete, creating structural havoc. They chew through wires and tulip bulbs, and they raid gardens and eat vegetables that are meant for humans, not disease-carrying varmints. They can ingest $37 worth of pansies, overnight.
Someone told me that cayenne pepper is a good natural repellent for chipmunks. I did try it, emptying three bottles in the holes under my front porch. But really, that’s like trying to hold a wolf at bay with a cigarette lighter.
For years I watched these destructive, disdainful critters scurry in and out of my flowerbeds, impervious to neighborhood dogs, hawks, snakes and spice jars. I finally decided that it was time to call in the big guns, and I enlisted the help of the professionals.
I Googled “kill the rodents” until I found a professional near me. A man from the Chipmunk Patrol drove up to my house the next day and determined that I did have an infestation.
An infestation! I had just been calling it a nuisance! But now my problem was being defined by a term that was making my skin crawl. This was serious.
The Chipmunk Patroller said that he could trap the rodents and remove them, and that sounded like a good plan to me at first. The (excuse me) “catch” was that the company used live traps, which meant that once trapped, the disgusting creatures could theoretically languish there, alive and wriggling, until the Chipmunk Patroller came to remove them.
Ugh! I can’t even stand the sight of an upside down cockroach.
Then the professional rodent destroyer told me that if the burrows were deep enough, he could drop smoke bombs in there—lethal to the chipmunks, but harmless to children, birds and pets.
Perfect. Die, Chip and Dale, Die!
So Mr. Chipmunk dropped the smoke bombs, and for exactly two weeks I could watch our garage door open without seeing a gang of chipmunks scatter like thugs being raided at a craps game.
Then they all found their way into my tomatoes and under my deck again.
I’m going to put up a sign of my own, in my front yard. It will read, in large letters, “Coyotes welcome!”
Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.