Author Topic: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?  (Read 1606 times)

Offline fredthecat

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i know very little about chipmunks except that they dig holes, they dont seem to eat other plants, just nuts and seeds and observations about them.

but over the past few years the chipmunks who live here (maybe 3 to 5?) been increasingly friendly over the past few years since last summer, it's been getting pretty crazy. my kid obviously finds it very fun to feed them, but we feed them pretty much every day from a bag of peanuts beside the backdoor.

first it was just leaving a few peanuts out on the backdeck and they would only come up when no people were around, then we would be more and more able to watch them without them skittering off. fastforward to now, we can prettymuch feed them right from our hand.

i didn't even have a peanut just now and it came up and brushed my hand and hung around a bit.

we had one get into the sunroom from the deck somehow a few years ago before all this really took off and it was very hard to get it out.

this is bad isn't it?? but theyre so cute


Offline neuse

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2022, 02:23:59 pm »
When I lived in Colorado (50 years ago), there were places in the Rocky Mountain National Park where you could feed chip monks out of your hand. Also, you could hold a peanut over your head, and a Clark Nutcracker (a bird in the area) would swoop down and take it out of your hand. No problems there, but I don't know about having something similar in your yard.

Offline redrocker652002

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2022, 04:45:36 pm »
Way back when I was a yungin, lol.  We used to camp in the Shasta area with my grandparents during the summer.  Usually about 2 months or so.  We had chipmunks coming and eating peanuts out of my grandfather shirt pocket while he was sleeping.  They are cool, and fun for the little ones to watch.  We used to also have deer come and eat bread out of our hands.  God, those were the days.  Simple life and simple pleasures.  I wish I could go back and live that life again. 

Offline MDixon

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2022, 05:53:15 pm »
Won't be long until one of them starts letting you know they want a hula hoop for Christmas.
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Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2022, 06:39:15 am »
Many years ago when my sons were still very young, we stayed at a fishing resort in Ely, Minnesota.  There were a few chipmunks living under the porch to our cabin.  My youngest son befriended the little critters and for no apparent reason, one day one of them bit him.  Needless to say, our plans for the day were scrubbed as we had to seek medical assistance.  Our main concern was rabies.  Fortunately, he was fine.
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Offline fredthecat

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2022, 03:20:19 pm »
lol, thanks guys. yeah i can't see any major harm, but my kid has already learned to toss the peanuts even a few cm away from their hand or use leather gloves otherwise.

the squirrels used to be more friendly/interested but since spring weather came they dont even bother begging anymore.

a neighbours cat was carrying one chipmunk in his mouth today, i couldnt even get to it in time to see if it was alive.

Offline Andy Farke

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2022, 03:40:49 pm »
Although I know that all of this feeding is done with the best of intentions and a love of animals, it is not a great idea to habituate wild animals like this, no matter how cute or tame they seem. It sets up bad habits for the animals, and you never know what sorts of fun diseases they might be carrying (rabies, hantavirus, plague, etc., depending on the region), or when you might get too close to them on a bad day and someone gets hurt (which inevitably means you have to kill the animal and send it in to a lab to rule out rabies--this happened to a childhood neighbor who had a "tame" raccoon -- a kid ended up with serious injury and the raccoon ended up dead). Human habituated animals--even the small and cute ones--can get aggressive if they feel threatened, and it's not a good situation for anyone involved. So, it sounds fun and I'll once again reiterate that I don't fault people for acting from good intentions, but it often ends poorly for everyone concerned.
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Offline denny

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2022, 03:43:53 pm »
Although I know that all of this feeding is done with the best of intentions and a love of animals, it is not a great idea to habituate wild animals like this, no matter how cute or tame they seem. It sets up bad habits for the animals, and you never know what sorts of fun diseases they might be carrying (rabies, hantavirus, plague, etc., depending on the region), or when you might get too close to them on a bad day and someone gets hurt (which inevitably means you have to kill the animal and send it in to a lab to rule out rabies--this happened to a childhood neighbor who had a "tame" raccoon -- a kid ended up with serious injury and the raccoon ended up dead). Human habituated animals--even the small and cute ones--can get aggressive if they feel threatened, and it's not a good situation for anyone involved. So, it sounds fun and I'll once again reiterate that I don't fault people for acting from good intentions, but it often ends poorly for everyone concerned.

Well put, Andy.
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Offline narvin

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2022, 03:44:35 pm »
Can they sing?

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Offline erockrph

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Yes, it's a bad idea. Like all bad ideas with cute animals, please film it and put it on TikTok if you insist on doing it so the rest of us can watch
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Offline fredthecat

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2022, 10:02:56 pm »
Although I know that all of this feeding is done with the best of intentions and a love of animals, it is not a great idea to habituate wild animals like this, no matter how cute or tame they seem. It sets up bad habits for the animals, and you never know what sorts of fun diseases they might be carrying (rabies, hantavirus, plague, etc., depending on the region), or when you might get too close to them on a bad day and someone gets hurt (which inevitably means you have to kill the animal and send it in to a lab to rule out rabies--this happened to a childhood neighbor who had a "tame" raccoon -- a kid ended up with serious injury and the raccoon ended up dead). Human habituated animals--even the small and cute ones--can get aggressive if they feel threatened, and it's not a good situation for anyone involved. So, it sounds fun and I'll once again reiterate that I don't fault people for acting from good intentions, but it often ends poorly for everyone concerned.


ok, strongly noted. i think i was posting this to find a very concrete example of why i should not do this, that sounds about right.

i'll probably get rid of the peanut bag (not use it up i mean)

Offline Andy Farke

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2022, 10:25:59 pm »
ok, strongly noted. i think i was posting this to find a very concrete example of why i should not do this, that sounds about right.

i'll probably get rid of the peanut bag (not use it up i mean)


Happy to be of help! This is an issue often on my mind, and one for which I do a fair bit of education as part of my job...I live in an area with tons of wildlife (ranging from squirrels to coyotes to bears) that frequently have problems with people, and I spend a decent bit of time navigating human-wildlife interactions both on campus and in the field on public lands.
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Offline pete b

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2022, 05:17:42 am »
As a gardner I hate chipmunks. They eat all sorts of things, most annoyingly taking bites out of many strawberries and tomatoes instead of running away with one. And as someone with a tick borne illness I say the less tick vectors the better.
I do occasionally feed chickadees from my hand in winter. We actually can’t feed birds April-October or bears will come on our deck and run off with the bird feeders.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline MNWayne

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Re: we've been "taming" chipmunks for a few years now. is this bad?
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2022, 08:43:42 am »
Although cute, feeding wildlife is usually a bad idea.  Bites and disease transfer to humans is obvious.  But disease transfer between animals is also possible. In my area many people feed deer.  Chronic Wasting Disease in deer is now becoming an issue.  Problem is, affected deer come to feeding stations, drool into feed piles, and thus transfer CWD to other deer via saliva.  We need to keep wild things wild with no "help" from us.
Far better to dare mighty things....