Monday, September 13, 2011— (On September 20, the full moon, “Harvest”, will rise nearest to earth.)
I set humane critter traps in my RV garage where I play around with hobbies. The traps designed to capture mice and pack rats occasionally yield other species, sometimes a lizard or angry chipmunk. These get released immediately to my rocky property.
Recently, I was lazy about checking the traps. On doing so, I found a tiny chipmunk, appearing sleepy, and without any interest in leaving the trap. I set the trap with critter inside, its door open, on a rocky area and left. On returning, I saw the little guy outside the trap, asleep only inches away.
I’d gone too long before checking that trap. This baby, tiny and skinny, seemed at death’s door. I lifted it, got no reaction. Nearly lifeless, was it dehydrated and starving, or might it be ill? Gambling that too many hours trapped had taken their toll, but maybe the little one could be revived.
I have a critter-keeper, a small cage with a lid and litter inside. I added bird seed, but chipmunk wasn’t interested, still appeared dead. I picked it up, rubbed its body, and seeing little claws trying to reach out, hoped for the slim chance of bringing it back.
As some background, earlier this summer I rescued a baby bird, a helpless, only half-ready fledgling fallen from the nest. I hand-fed until it grew strong enough to fly. Its most critical need beside nutrition was hydration. A syringe inserting water might harm by putting moisture into lungs. To hydrate that bid, I offered food-bits only after dipping them into water.
As to the chipmunk, without some way to feed it, best to try hydrating. I probed with a small syringe at the clamped mouth. On opening lips a little, I provided only a drop or two. As moisture ran down the critter’s coat, I rubbed to awaken its body. After many attempts, a few water drops were met with tiny-tongue licks. The continual rubbing, probing, and encouraging returned the body gradually to life. Not lots, but that squirming and pawing pointed toward revival.
Inside the critter carrier, that chipmunk tried eating but couldn’t handle much. Chewing consumed energy, and again, it fell asleep. I set a lid with water into the carrier, above it rigged a heat lamp, and went to care for my household animals.
When next I checked, the chipmunk was moving around. I saw it discover and lap the water, and try again to eat before falling asleep.
Happily this morning, chipmunk’s on its feet, has eaten and is trying to escape. I might keep the animal in that carrier until tomorrow, to ensure it’s good and strong before being released.
More about this little rescue. It’s a Townsend’s Chipmunk, a variety common to this area near the Oregon Cascades. Chipmunks are a species of rodent in the squirrel family and considered ecologically beneficial for helping to spread spores of fungi around in the forest. I enjoy watching them running rapidly with straight upright tails, and gathering seeds. They’re very social and get along well at food sources.
This chipmunk has provided another, very cool learning experience. Even so, I promise to be more diligent about the frequency of trap checking.
Dear Friends: Real, and country-like environments bring close-up learning about wildlife. Diana