Saturday, August 04, 2007

Jim and Not Jim

At last, some photos of my "pet" chipmunks, Jim and Not Jim. (Feel free to suggest a better name for Not Jim.)

"Not Jim": Young and sleek, with complete tail, pristine ears and no bald spots. Not as brave as Jim, which probably explains the complete tail and ears.

I got a new camera yesterday because I stupidly lost my old Canon Powershot a few weeks back. I do have a very lovely Nikon digital SLR, but I need a wee portable camera. Annnnyway, my red Canon Powershot A460 arrived yesterday. Although it was incredibly cheap compared to the one I bought five years ago (and feels cheap in the hand!) it is tiny and takes really great pictures! So far I am impressed. And it does NOT frighten chipmunks, so I was able to feed them with one hand while taking photos with the other.

My beloved Jim.

I'm just pretending that bald spot is benign. Not ringworm, not ringworm... I caught ringworm from my kitten Zoe back in 1997. She was an adorable wreck when I got her. She had a hard start on the streets of Seattle. How she ended up in Canada with me is a story for another day. I got the nickname "Krusty" because of Zoe's ringworm. If you look elsewhere in this blog, there are plenty of pictures of the fully-recovered Zoe, who turns TEN this year.

Jim has no fear of me!

One of Jim's ears is slit, like it was torn in a fight, but is now completely healed. I also think his fur looks like it is greying, particularly compared to Not Jim's fur. I think Jim is a survivor. He is the old fart chipmunk of the garden, and fortunately has not wandered into the Cat Den of Death (outdoor cat cage), which now has boards around the bottom to prevent just such an occurrence.

Note the suspiciously shortened tail (in comparison to the tails of the other chipmunks in our garden.)

Impressive cheeks, my man! He takes three peanuts in the shell: one in each cheek, and one carried horizontally between his teeth. Then off he goes! (Or maybe Jim is a "she"... I have no idea!)

Not Jim samples the goods on offer.

Not Jim is less brave than Jim, but he made strides yesterday. I think he was watching Jim and realized that I am not a threat. I sat on the back step and fed them for an hour yesterday (because I was too tired to do anything else) and by the end of it, Not Jim was sitting under my legs as he ate his peanuts. I've noticed that Jim likes to take whole peanuts and hide them, whereas Not Jim tends to crack his open and eat them. Buddy there better start hoarding nuts or he ain't gonna make it through the hellacious winter.

Jim and Not Jim also got territorial over my hand, and chased each other off a few times. But at one point, I had a chipmunk eating out of each hand. The key to getting chippies to eat out of your hand is PATIENCE and staying still, particularly while they are figuring you out. They really are very tame and easy to feed by hand.

Around here, a chipmunk is called a "suisse": a "Swiss"!

Thus ends today's nature installment.


  1. Anonymous10:51 am

    A "Swiss" how funny!

    Your new camera takes EXCELLENT pics. The first of Not Jim is just beautiful.

    But ya just gotta love Jim. :) let's all hope he doesn't have ringworm..ahah. I'm sure it's not.

    Excellent and entertaining blog :)

    From a complete stranger...haha. Have a good trip to NS .. I can't wait to see the pics.

  2. Wow--I go away for a few days and you go on a blogging frenzy! I'm loving the nature pictures.

  3. I LOVE the pictures of Jim and Not Jim. Please tell me how you got them to eat out of your hand! I've been putting peanuts on the windowsill of my office and there is a very brave Bluejay who will come look in the window and take the peanuts. If I don't put any out there, he'll sit on the windowsill and peer in. I wonder if I could get him to eat from my hand. Great photos, thanks!!

  4. Genny, I have heard of people managing to get blue jays to take peanuts from their hands. I haven't tried that, but I've done it with chickadees, downy woodpeckers, and nuthatches. You need to get him used to you and your hand first, which just takes patience. You could start by sitting next to the window while he gets the peanuts then putting your empty hand out the window and keeping it very still (on the ledge?) while he gets the peanuts, then putting a pile of peanuts in your hand. YOu get the idea... it will take baby steps, lots of patience, and lots of sitting still! Chipmunks are really easy to tame, and it's basically the same process. You get them used to your presence by sitting quietly near peanuts you have thrown down, then put out your hand with peanuts in it. You stay really still, never stare at them (or the bluejays) directly, avoid swallowing or licking your lips (I'm not kidding) and talk to them softly. The main trick is PATIENCE!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!