Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Chipmunk

A few days ago, my mother brought home a dead Eastern Chipmunk that she'd found at work. Surprisingly, up until then, I had yet to encounter a chipmunk for this project! I photographed it in my parents' backyard, as evening sunlight filtered through the trees. I'm rather pleased with the results –

June Chipmunk I

June Chipmunk II

I feel like I don't know very much about rodents, especially chipmunks. I see them all the time, and second to fox squirrels, they're the most visible rodent in town. They're constantly chirping and dashing through the courtyard; I often wonder why they scold and run, as I never see them until they move. In Marquette, they were always raiding our birdfeeder, stuffing their cheek pouches full of seeds and stashing the stolen goods elsewhere.

I got to know this chipmunk -- a female -- quite well. After photographing the body, I skinned it. I had never skinned an animal before, and working with such a tiny corpse was certainly a challenge. After an hour and a half of cutting and prodding, the skin was freed from the rest of the body, and surprisingly enough, I did a pretty good job. Whether or not the tiny pelt will be any good is a different story; the chipmunk may have sat outside too long, and the fur very well might slip, even after being salted. However, while skinning this animal, I feel like I learned a lot.

For example, female chipmunks have one pair of teats (how they manage to nurse several babies is a mystery to me). Their ribs are thin and weak, seemingly no stronger than dry blades of grass. Their front paws have four toes, with an additional tiny nub that is clawless. Overall, they are quite lean, save for fatty deposits near the neck. Their jaw muscles are well-developed, while the tail, once the skin is removed, is little more than bones.

I know I haven't been posting much as of late -- between work and other things, life's been pretty busy! I've got an exciting announcement to make which, along with an update on March Buck, will be detailed in my next entry.


  1. Ha-ha...I felt right at home with your blig art. I have abunch of roadkill pix I wanted to make into greeting cards. I am no stranger to grossness. Heck, I skinned a coyote on my granddaughters picnic table.
    So good to meet you both today. Best if luck in the future.

  2. It was nice to meet you, too! Thanks for the beautiful art, and good luck in getting accepted into the Isle Royale artist-in-residence program!