The Brighton millpond chipmunks are acclimated to humans. Especially peanut carrying ones. Peanuts don’t grow in Michigan, but the park’s chipmunks know precisely what they are and where they belong — in their burrow.
Here’s a tale to illustrate their problem solving abilities: I dropped two peanuts within a foot of a chipmunk’s burrow. The chipmunk appeared, saw the nuts (right), rushed for the smaller one (below), and stuffed it into its right cheek pouch. Then it headed for the other nut. When the second one wouldn’t fit in its left cheek pouch, the rodent grabbed it with its teeth just as a group of humans walking the path arrived with a scary dog.
Frightened, the chipmunk scurried under foliage and stood dead-still for about 5 minutes with both nuts in his mouth (top). Then he made a mad 3-foot dash to his burrow from the underbrush. That’s when the problem surfaced.
The peanut in his right pouch along with the other one jutting out of the other side of his mouth made his width wider than the burrow’s entrance. Realizing he was vulnerable to attack by humans, dogs, and (possibly) hawks, he quickly maneuvered his head in various ways until he got his treasures through the entrance. There must be a sharp curve in the tunnel below ground, however. His forward progress halted with one of his hind feet and his tail waving in the air for about five seconds while he vigorously wiggled to get his whole body underground. Problem solved. Unfortunately, this photographer was too intrigued to lift his camera to get that great shot. Damn.