When I found him one cold night, his leg was hurt and he couldn’t walk. I vowed to do everything in my power to save him.
Back when I was a little kid, some baby squirrels fell out of a tree. I didn’t know what to do, so I left them alone, hoping the mom would come save them.
She didn’t. They died. I was devastated.
So when I found this baby chipmunk, I knew I had to help. That way (even if he still died), I could rest easy knowing that I had done everything possible.
With that in mind, I knew I had to catch him. The night was cold, I didn’t see the mom anywhere, and my neighborhood is full of carnivorous animals who would probably love a snack, so leaving him alone wasn’t an option.
I ran to go look for an old aquarium I’d stored somewhere. I couldn’t find it, so I settled for a 5-gallon bucket instead.
I’d let the chipmunk out of my sight for only a few minutes, but he had disappeared.
I searched and searched. The minutes ticked away; still, I would not give up. I had to save him!
Then something told me to search under the Hosta plants. I lifted the leaves.
And there he was!
I scooped him up and swiftly deposited him in the bucket. The poor thing started freaking out, so I placed some grass in the bucket for him to hide under. He slide underneath.
Now, what should I do with him?
Well, first of all, it was too cold outside — especially for a baby — so I carried the bucket into my garage. It was warmer there, but I knew he needed more. I set up a space heater to keep him comfortable through the chilly autumn night. Next, I found a hand warmer, wrapped it in a paper towel, and placed it in the bucket. (If you look at the photo, it’s the white thing. As for the yellow thing, we’ll talk about that later.)
I picked him up and examined him quickly. He didn’t have any open wounds, but something was wrong with his back leg. Either he was a cripple or he had a broken leg; fortunately, he didn’t seem to be in pain. I set him back down gently.
Next, I constructed a make-shift lid with burlap and yarn — just in case. I didn’t want my precious patient getting loose and causing trouble.
After that, research. I went inside, sat down at my computer, and researched for hours. I learned everything about baby chipmunks: how they eat, how they sleep, how they mature — everything.
The next time I checked in on the chipmunk, he seemed calmer. However, I noticed that he wasn’t using the hand warmer. This was a bad sign, since babies need their mother’s warmth to survive. So I dug some old, fake fur out of a crate and sewed the stuff over a hand warmer. (That’s the yellow thing in the picture.)
He liked it! He snuggled up to it almost instantly, and stayed that way for hours. My heart warmed to see the cute little thing so content.
Now it was time for food. My extensive research showed that chipmunks his age eat what adult chipmunks do: fruits, nuts, and veggies.
Duly, I placed a variety of fruits and veggies in his bucket at a variety of places. I tried all kinds.
For many hours, he refused to eat and would only sleep. I started to worry. Was he too weak to eat? Was he dying? Should I force-feed him through an eye-dropper before it was too late?
But finally, he ate a raspberry and a kernel of corn.
I cannot tell you how happy this made me. I wanted to shout: “Yes! He’s not going to die!”
For the next several hours, I periodically checked in on him. Whenever I removed the lid, he would open one eye and calmly look up at me. With the utmost gentleness, I would lower down one gloved pinkie and slowly stroke his soft side. He didn’t mind; he was very sleepy and cute.
I stayed up all night caring for him.
In the morning, I talked to one of my friends, and we decided on a name. We didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, so we came up with two names. If it was a girl, I would call her Ivy, because that’s what I found her under. If it was a boy, he would be Mr. Nibbles, named after the adorable sounds he made while eating.
Once it was warm enough outside, I placed him outdoors near where I had found him. Some chipmunks lived around there, and I hoped that his mom would come get him. I set him and all his stuff in a shallow box. The walls were high enough to keep him in, yet low enough to allow a healthy chipmunk inside. A lid covered part of the box, so he could enjoy the sunshine or the shade as he pleased.
I went inside and watched through a window. After all, the last thing I wanted was for a stray cat to come by and eat the poor thing.
I watched and waited. And waited.
One hour passed. Then another. Then another.
3 hours later, and no chipmunk mom in sight. I was starting to worry again. But more than that, I was starting to get exhausted. Staying up all night was catching up to me.
So I asked my sister to watch him for a while. She agreed. Once she had taken over, I crashed into bed.
But only 2 hours later, she woke me up. She said that Mr. Nibbles kept jumping at the side of his box, trying to escape.
It was then that I knew in my heart I had to free him. He must have been feeling better if he was jumping, and of course, I couldn’t keep him in captivity if he was unhappy.
I released him back where I had found him. He scooted away from me and vanished into the ornamental grass next to the ivy.
I threw some wheat seed into the grass for him to eat, and then stumbled back to bed.
The next day, I saw a normal adult chipmunk very near where Mr. Nibbles had vanished. I hope that was his mom.
That was 2 weeks ago, and I haven’t seen him since.
Unlike some stories, this one doesn’t have a neat-and-tidy ending. I don’t know if Mr. Nibbles lived. I hope and pray he did, and it seems like he did; but I don’t know. I may never know.
Yet even so, there is one thing I can know with absolute certainty: this time, I did everything within my power to save him.
So I can rest easy.