Monday, September 26, 2022


Chipmunk Wars: Man battles rodents, rodents win!

By Chuck Woodbury

Note: Before I became politically correct and nature-smart, I fed wild animals. I fed bears as a kid in Yellowstone. I fed deer in Yosemite. I fed blue jays. I fed gray squirrels. I fed chipmunks. I fed anything that was cute that wasn’t interested in eating me. This is one of my favorite stories from my early days as a roving reporter. Shortly after writing this I stopped feeding wild animals.

Chipmunks can wage war. I know that now. This afternoon, in an Oregon state park near Bend, a couple of chipmunks hit me up for some food. One stared at me and wagged its tail — just like a cat. Another one stood on his hind legs and sniffed.

So I broke down and fed them some Cheez-Its — a monumental mistake! The chipmunk grapevine works fast here, and in a few minutes there were a dozen chipmunks around me and more on the way.

I fought to keep them from jumping on my lap, but it was a losing battle. Finally, I hid in the motorhome.

About a half hour later, the coast clear, I went back outside to read. But within minutes the chipmunks were back in full force. I tried to ignore them but they wouldn’t cooperate: “Cheez-Its, Mister, give us Cheez-Its.” I told them my Cheez-Its were gone. But they wouldn’t listen. I told them they were bothering me. “Go away,” I ordered. But they continued to demand Cheez-Its.

So I did next what any angered human would do: I declared war.

I went to the motorhome for my weapon. Outside, the enemy waited, some on their hind legs sniffing their button noses for the first wonderful whiff of crackers.

But they got no such treat. I returned with a fully loaded spray water bottle, adjusted to shoot a straight stream of tap water with each squeeze of the handle.

 So the rodents who sought Cheez-Its got water instead — right in their cute little faces. To my surprise, they did not surrender.

Soon, wet chipmunks were attacking — veterans of an earlier assault. The thought struck me that they were enjoying this war!

One made at least eight trips, each time reaching within a few inches of my shoes. “Shoot me, I dare you!” he barked. So I shot him. He would shake his head when hit, make a squeak, then retreat to the woods. Out of my range, he would roll in the dirt and prepare for his next attack. “I will get the human’s Cheez-Its,” he mumbled under his breath. And then he charged again.

SOME WERE MASOCHISTIC — coming very close to me then taking two or three blasts of water before retreating. These were the kamikaze chipmunks.

As I fought bravely to keep these aggressive mini-beasts away, I noticed a boy of about eight in the distance. He was running through the woods with a green “machine gun” squirt-gun — raging his own battle with the chipmunks.

This campground was under siege! Then the terrible thought hit me: The chipmunks were winning!

As I considered possible defeat, I recalled another chipmunk encounter near Lassen National Park. I was inside the motorhome writing at my kitchen table. The front door was wide open. Suddenly there was a noise. I looked up and a chipmunk was standing on its hind legs checking me out. I knew what he wanted.

But before I could even move, he had raced across the floor and leaped onto my lap. He stood on his hind legs and stared at me with huge brown eyes. “Mister, I want Cheez-Its. You give ’em to me now, and there won’t be any trouble, okay?”

Well, I wasn’t going for it, so I shook my leg, sending him flying into the air. He landed softly on the carpet, only his pride injured, and he darted out the door.

But my present battle wasn’t ending so easily. In fact, it showed no sign of ending at all. Finally, after 20 minutes of fighting, my ammunition and confidence were running low. Rather than prolong my inevitable defeat, and waste ounces of precious Pacific Northwest water in the process, I retreated to the motorhome, a defeated man.

The rodents shook paws and celebrated.


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1 year ago

Shaving cream works. Draw the line with Barbasol.

Joseph Weinstein
2 years ago

Great story, really enjoyed it. The animals might have been “different” when we were all younger. We didn’t hear stories about fatal encounters. Years ago while at Yosemite a young boy was feeding a buck. Something scared the boy so he pulled back suddenly. No one knows if the buck was scared, became aggressive or what, but when he lunged for the food his antler pierced the boys heart. Everyone in the valley was both heartbroken and angry at the parents for not obeying the numerous do not feed the wildlife signs. Our friend, then the Chief Naturalist in Yosemite just shook his head in frustration.

Stan Wutka
3 years ago

Never feed wild, undomesticated animals. You are interrupting the food chain for these animals. You are lucky they didn’t hitch a ride in your RV undercarriage and go home with you. As someone who fought vehicle damage by these rodents for 5 years they are not cute.

Brian Cloke
3 years ago

Chuck did you not know. Chipmunks and Squirrels are ” Rats with good public relations”

Joan Fick
3 years ago

Oh, your account is so funny! I haven’t had such a good laugh in a long time. Thanks for sharing it again.

Kevin J Coughlin
3 years ago

The good old days when you could watch the bears rummage through the garbage cans at Mt. Rainier NP. Their behavior was so cute (then). We are older (some of us anyway) and a little wiser dealing with wild animals. On a lighter note have you returned to that park to see the monument the chipmunks erected to memorialize their victory?

Donald Wright
3 years ago

Garner state park had a problem with human food droppings everywhere. The animals worked together, deer would wander though the campground at dinner time, everyone would stop to look at the deer. Then, their buddies the skunks would show up, folks would waddle to their motorhomes to
hide from the skunks. The deer grazed from the tables as they pushed dinner off on the ground for the skunks to eat. Never betray or {bleeped} off a skunk!

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