Monday, September 5, 2011

The Chipmunk Experiment

We're a little unconventional, I think.  Our cats love to leave us gifts.  Most are headless.  I've never scooped up more rodents and birds in my life.  Actually, before being an outdoor cat owner, I never scooped up rodents or birds. 
I'm a homeschooling mom of boys who are interested in bones, life & death and animals. 
Do you know where this is going?
We found a gifted chipmunk yesterday.  Intact.  Poor little guy never knew what was coming.
Today, we buried it.  Not for the sake of respecting it's life...for the sake of science.
Introducing The Chipmunk Experiment.  How long will it take for a chipmunk to decompose?  What will the skeleton look like?  Will we have to piece it back together?  Will it have any visible fractures or broken bones?
RIP Chipmunk...
I have no idea about decomposition rates.  However, I do know some things about composting.  I grabbed a large potting vessel.  There are holes at the bottom so it won't turn into a small pond....we have one of those already. 
The bottom layer includes some stones for added drainage and some pine chips and dirt from one compost pile.  Added in the chipmunk.  I thought about putting him in a plastic berry container so I could just pull it out without the bones separating, but didn't know how the decomposition rate would be affected.  Eli already has plans to experiment with a mouse if we find one, so I'll try the berry container then. 
I dug up a big, juicy shovel-full of compost from the live pile.  There were plenty of worms and large chunks of wet compost and half-composted veggies.  Lastly, more pine chips and dirt.  I put it in a semi-sunny location.  It's supposed to rain tonight, so I didn't feel I needed to water it. 
Eli - One year for the chipmunk to fully decompose.
Mom - One month.
Dad - Six months.
Odin - Two weeks.
Silas - One week.

Feel free to tell me how gross you think we are.

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