Tails Long and Short

If there’s one – make that two – then there must be a million.


There are enough to declare independence, secede from the Union and begin their own sovereign nation. In my yard alone.

I know, I know. They’re cute.

That’s why they had their own TV show. And a hit record.

They’re also destructive. Because they’re rodents, they’re gnawers and will chew through anything. And, unlike children encountering ugly vegetables, there’s nothing they don’t like or won’t try.

They’re also bold. They’ll drill a hole in the ground – the rock hard, dry ground – right in front of you. As if to spite you.

And they just love digging tunnels. Lots of tunnels. Going nowhere in particular and everywhere that bothers and is a nuisance to homeowners.

The chipmunks’ striped coat uniforms, coupled with their tunneling proclivity, suggests a certain resemblance to characters and the plot for The Great Escape. That’s the 1963 movie where World War II Allied soldiers in a German POW camp dig three escape tunnels in order to divert Nazi energy and manpower from the battlefield.

Recently, a chirping chipmunk thought it a good idea to tunnel under my brick walkway.

Unlike claustrophobic digger Charles Bronson, who suffered through numerous tunnel collapses in The Great Escape, chipmunks avoid such disasters while allowing human walkers the opportunity to cave-in the bricks, trip and then shout expletives.

Pulling up the bricks, I filled in the tunnel with nice, fresh, new sand and tamped it down, reinstalled the bricks and then filled the spaces between bricks with more of the same.

The next day, another tunnel.

There are many solutions to this problem. From the humane and natural to the deadly and artificial. Persuasion is not one of them.

One product looks like either a very large firecracker or a small stick of dynamite, complete with fuse. A flare-like device that emits a noxious odor that wafts through the tunnel, though seemingly extreme, also seemed a reasonable solution.

It wasn’t. Two tries each proved stunningly unsuccessful.

Which meant turning to the solution of last resort. The secret weapon.


Picking up after the Poodle is both courteous to neighbors and strangers who might walk by as well as being enlightened self-interest. Plus, what else should we do with all those plastic tube bags the newspaper comes in?

Two bags with two doggie deposits placed atop the spot where Alvin and the Chipmunks burrowed was all it took. Apparently, sensitive noses can penetrate even the prophylactic newspaper wrapper.

Great being sustainable, ain’t it?

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