May Her Burrow Be Long and Warm and Dry…

It turns out the woodchuck is probably a female, so I guess she isn’t “Charlie Brown” after all.

My little friend went home to what may be her forever home with a rehabber
last night. The rehabber and I both think she has something neurological going
on, plus she’s way too habituated to people to be releasable, so Robin (the rehabber) will
most likely be keeping her. Robin LOVES woodchucks and was so
excited to get her from me. She already has seven woodchucks, two of which are
long-term members of her family, because they are not releasable for
various reasons. One of those is litterbox trained and roams around freely in her house! I can hardly wait to go visit and see them

Anyway, Robin took my little woodchuck last night, so hopefully she is settling in now and making herself at home. I really enjoyed having her here for a few days, but am not set up for long-term woodchuck hospitality, so am glad I now know someone whose door is always open to another woodchuck.

Here are some of my sketches from the woodchuck’s time here (click on images for larger view).

 I wish my little friend well, and, whether her life includes chucking wood, or forecasting weather, or simply eating to her heart’s content (no gardens, please), may her burrow always be long and warm and dry.

Winter Woodchuck! Will Work for Warmth

What is that??!!

I was watching birds out my window, when I caught sight of something dark and furry moving in my snow-covered garden. Grabbing my binoculars, I searched till I saw it again– a woodchuck? But they go into a deep, true hibernation all winter. How could one be out now, and WHY would it be in my garden, where all is white and cold?

(Click on photos to see them larger.)

I headed down to the bottom of the yard and looked over the fence to see a young, obviously confused and very cold woodchuck. He looked at me and held up first one front paw, then the other, as if telling me he was cold and miserable and needed help. After doing a few very quick sketches, I tried to herd him out through an opening in the fence, but he kept skittering past it. Finally cornering him, I pulled off my jacket (and yes, it was indeed cold!), threw it over him, and scooped him up. I dropped him over the fence, and, without looking back, he hurried off in the direction of a nearby brush pile. I hoped he had a den there, though I couldn’t imagine why he had emerged in such unseasonable weather.

I thought I had seen the last of the woodchuck for a few months, but four days later I found him wandering in my driveway. I got out of my car for a closer look, and he came right toward me! Alarmed, I jumped back in my car and consulted with the county health department rabies expert, who said that sounded liked aberrant behavior and could be rabies, but, since I thought his coat looked healthy and he didn’t actually seem aggressive when he approached, maybe it was actually an escaped or released pet looking for help. He cautioned me to avoid exposing myself to a bite at all costs, but said I could consider capturing it.

I grabbed a couple of towels and a small dog crate and headed back out. I put the crate on the ground, whereupon the woodchuck immediately investigated it– it looked as though a crate was not something new to him. He approached me, and when he was right in front of me, I dropped the towels over him and bundled him, towels and all, right into the crate. He won me over completely when I held a finger near the front of the crate, and he tried to reach his cute little paw out to touch my finger.

Now Charlie Brown is comfortable ensconced in a larger crate, eagerly eating kale, apples, carrot peelings, and guinea pig food. In exchange for food and lodging, he poses for sketching sessions.