Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rescuing a chipmunk

I was inspecting the garden yesterday afternoon, when I noticed something moving around underneath the nylon netting that's draped over the currant bushes to protect them from the birds. It was a chipmunk, and furthermore, he was tangled in the netting! I picked up the netting and tried to shake him free, but somehow he'd gotten it around his head or face, so I shook, and he struggled and twisted, and in no time, he was in an even worse mess. The netting was twisted right around his muzzle, and formed a huge knot in his mouth! I tried to break it, but it was too strong, and the jolting just made him struggle more. So finally I ran back into the house and called Emma to come and bring me out some scissors.

We went back to the helpless captive and I started snipping at the netting. I had to be careful, because I could have easily just cut off the piece of netting holding him, and he'd have run off. But his jaw was basically wired shut with the tangled fibres, and if I did that, he'd simply starve to death, so I had to pick out the threads that were wound around and inside his mouth (and I suspect, even around his TONGUE), and get his face free before letting him go. It was tricky work, but he calmed down and stayed very still - probably thought he was about to be eaten. I carefully slipped the scissors inside his mouth and around his nose, and I don't think I cut him because I saw no blood. I'd have felt awful if I'd nicked him. It took a long time, because those threads were very tight and buried quite deep in his fur, but finally it all came loose and he dropped down and sped underneath the rhubarb, and from there into a crack in the stone wall. Now this morning, I saw a chipmunk run across the path, and I thought, "Is it YOU? Are you the one whose life I saved yesterday?"

This happened accidentally, but I remember a story in the newspaper back when I was living in North Vancouver. A fellow out walking saw a strange creature tumbling around in the weeds - sort of like a big, ungainly spider. When he looked closer, he saw that it was about half a dozen baby squirrels - some moron had BRAIDED THEIR TAILS together! The poor things were just helpless, tumbling about trying to run, all tied together by the tail. The man took them to a vet, who carefully undid the intricate pattern and got them free. I loved the quote the paper provided from the doctor, who I believe from his name was French-Canadian, so the imagined accent just made it funnier: "The poor guys were braided right up to their butts."

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