Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chipmunk funeral

My wife went out to tend on her garden this afternoon, and came in distraught - she found a dead chipmunk hanging from the mesh she's covered her garden in to protect it from critters. I told her to pick it up and throw it out, but she didn't want to touch it, didn't want to handle it wearing gloves, and didn't want her trowel to touch a dead chipmunk, and then be used on the garden.

Insert husband to deal with it. So I head out there with a paper bag and find the little guy hanging off the ground head first from the mesh, motionless. It was sad. I thought I might be able to just pull it out of the mesh, but of course, if it were loose enough to just drop out, the damned thing would have got away while he was still alive, right?

So the thing's really stuck. And I'm not sure if I thought I saw it move because it was dangling, or because it actually moved, but I got this sneaky feeling that the chipmunk was still alive.

So I sent the wife for a pair of scissors to cut it out of the mesh. The chipmunk isn't really moving, but I can tell that one of the eyes that was shut before, was now open. There was reason to believe that it might not be entirely lifeless.

I cut a hunk of scrap from the mesh and carried the chipmunk to somewhere easier to move- and you could see how very tangled the thing was. It was really in there, probably choking to death. It wasn't struggling, biting or anything, it was just waiting to die.

So I got to cutting away most of the mesh - and wifey's like: I don't think it's going to live very long even if you get it out. I think she was getting at: If it bites you, you could get really sick. Which might have been true, but it wasn't really struggling, and wasn't really showing any signs of panic or fear. Also I wasn't just going to leave it tangled up, toss it in the paper bag and throw it out. I might not nurse the thing back to health, but I fully planned set it as free as I could.

I went back in to get some more acute tools to try and get at the mesh around the chipmunk's neck. I didn't want to harm it any more than it had been hurt by twisting scissors around his face. While I was up, my wife took a turn at it, and by the time I'd gotten back, the lifeless chipmunk that was resigned to die, leaped away from her and scurried off. Jumping Jack Flash. Just like that.

I was impressed, and relieved honestly, that it seemed so spunky. Not much later, the chipmunk was scurrying around our porch, running by the window, eating the keys that had fallen from the tree.

You see wild animals all the time, but not often can you tell with confidence that you're seeing one that's absolutely thrilled to still be alive. But you could tell it was cheerful - or at least I think it looked cheerful, anyway. I'm sure we'll see him again, I just hope we don't come across more trapped animals clinging to life in my wife's deathtrap garden.


legs said...

Small animals do that all the time. Its the shock or play dead reaction. Of course freeing it of its noose was helpful!! It had probably given up.

I always check because I don't know how many birds I have found "dead" after they had hit a window, car or something that if you picked it up and held it a second it usually would "wake" up.

Up where I am we have alot of critters but decide not to "cover" or deter the animals as its only a few veggies and they are not my lively hood. I would rather loose a few plants then have a dead animal to deal with.


Anonymous said...

dude you are so nice people. hugs from greece :-)

Rogers said...

coincidentally, we "caught" another chipmunk just today in the same garden. We had to untie it, but it bit me and ran away before I could untangle it completely, but it should be alright. It seemed to be able to run and jump just fine.