Friday, August 26, 2011


Have you ever had a baby chipmunk on your hands? It’s a common situation I know in Sri Lanka where these tiny high-metabolism rodents get themselves into all kinds of trouble and then leave us wondering what to do. Sri Lankan mornings seem to be all about crows cawing, cocks crowing and chipmunks ting-ing to wake you up. At least since Im lucky enough to live in the suburbs. To be honest I am quite astounded at the sound a chipmunk makes in relation to its body size.
Chipsy is our latest family member though she is much smaller than a regular rat, she commands incredible love from all of us. We hardly dare breath with the wonder of her tiny delicate existence. Outside, Itchy the cat and Foofy and Mucky , the stray dogs are breathless too, but sadly its mostly with insane amounts of jealousy and repeat murmurings of “just you wait” . Sadly orphaned when her mother was gobbled by one of our backyard dwelling stray mutts, Chipsy too is a tiny and very transient miracle. I have no idea what her future will be, but I’m pretty sure predators out there are monitoring it. I try my best to protect her, with rather fanatic determination. It should be possible, for man who walked on the moon, to bring up and release a chipmunk successfully. I do not want to hold her in a cage. Next week I will tell you how best to look after a baby chipmunk.
For more photos and videos of Chipsy, read my blog

1. Do not give them powdered milk, or cow’s milk. The best for their delicate tummies is goat’s milk, diluted half half with boiled warm water.
2. You can feed them through a ball point pen, with the barrel removed and a cotton wick passed through the nib -space; it has to be a brand which does not have holes in the barrel. Strangely for the moment all I could find was a brand named “RADIENT” and I made the stationary shops very puzzled with how much I tried looking for this brand. Use the hold in the back to control the flow of the milk so that not too much comes.
3. Be really clean with the feeding equipment, don’t let the milk get sour; don’t let the pen get dirty. Change the wick daily, or better still, at every feed.
4. Keep them clean. Don’t let their fur be sticky with old milk etc. wipe with a ball of cotton wool dipped in lukewarm water , but make sure they are warm afterwards
5. After nourishment, the single most important thing to keep a baby chipmunk alive is warmth. How you keep them warm is simple, fill a plastic bottle with warm water, not boiling hot, but quite hot, put it in a sock or wrap it in a towel and then place the rodent on top of it. Baby chipmunks love the heat and stay sticking on this contraption for ages.
6. There’s the delicate and unmentionable matter of pee. Baby animals often cant pee themselves, and need the mothers “stimulation” aka licking for that too. If this is not done, they literally (and it must be a terrible way to die) could burst. All we can do is use a small ball of cotton wool or a cotton bud dipped in comfortably warm water, to wipe their unmentionables till they do pee. It takes patience, and yes, it has to be done, for the tiniest of baby orphans.
7. Last but not least, do not handle them by their tails, these can and do come off and that HURTS.


Kim said...

Very interesting read - I have never taken care of a chipmunk but I cared for many young baby birds, so I kind of know how much care young animals need! Thanks for sharing your knowledge - who knows, one day it might come in handy for me :)

aljuhara said...

nice to hear from you and good luck with the rescue work. you can watch Chipsys vids on his youtube channel enjoy