This is a true story. My office is in the basement of a converted house and it is surrounded by death traps. To be fair, they’re called window wells and nothing has actually died in them, that I know of, but it’s been close. Baby animals especially fall in there and can’t get out.
This afternoon, one of my coworkers came into my office and said there was a small chipmunk in the window well. We both work in the basement so it’s easy to see into the window wells. I never look into them, however, although she does. “It’s alive but it’s not moving much and it’s covered with flies.” Uh oh, that didn’t sound good. She thought it was a baby one. I went over and looked. It looked small, but all chipmunks are small, so I couldn’t tell if it was a baby or not. It looked dead to me and had flies on it, but she said she’d seen it moving. We figured it could have been down there for days without food or water.
I didn’t think it had much of a chance but I didn’t want a dead chipmunk in our window well and I wanted to at least try to save it. I went outside and climbed down into the window well, while she watched from inside. The little guy was definitely alive but barely. I scooped him up with a piece of bark and put him on the grass outside. He moved feebly, but couldn’t stand up. I went and got a paper plate with some water on it, although I thought he looked too weak to drink it.
So I left, not expecting him to survive, but not knowing what else to do. A little while later, my coworker came back and said, “He fell in again.”
Grumbling about suicidal chipmunks, I went back and looked out the window. There was a chipmunk in there but definitely not the same one. This one had lots of energy and was trying to jump up the molded ladder to get out, but he couldn’t quite make it.
The day was shaping up to be a reverse episode of Chip and Dale, Rescue Rangers, where I was the one rescuing the chipmunks. I went out and found that it had started to rain. The first chipmunk (let’s call him Chip) had crawled about three feet and was still lying on the grass, trembling and getting soaked by the rain. I picked him up with the paper plate and put him under some bushes to stay dry. Then I got a mop and angled it down into the window well so the other chipmunk (Dale) could climb up.
Now that it was raining, Chip probably had enough water, but needed food. “If only we had some nuts,” my coworker said. “I have some,” I said. I have a container of trail mix in my office to stave off mid-afternoon munchies, so I picked out some peanuts and raisins and carried them out and put them next to Chip. He got up immediately and tried to eat but his legs were shaking so hard he could barely stand. I looked down and saw that Dale was gone, so I assumed he had climbed up and brought the mop back inside.
I was just about to go home when my coworker mentioned that there was a chipmunk in the window well, yet again. I was tempted to let stupid chipmunks lie, but I went outside and looked in. Again, I couldn’t see anything. Then, as I climbed in to get a better look, I noticed that a section of siding was trembling. I lifted it up and there was Dale, hiding underneath it. Apparently, he had never climbed out, just hidden. I had a plastic garbage can and so for the next few minutes, I terrified the little guy by chasing him around the window well, trying to get him into the garbage can. I felt like a nurse running after a fleeing patient with needle, shouting, “It’s for your own good!”
Finally, Dale made a mistake and fell into the garbage can. Before he could jump out, I lifted it out of the window well and laid it on his side. A second later, he dashed out and was off to safety. He’s probably still telling his chipmunk buddies about how he evaded death at my hands.
Chip was gone, which I took for a good sign. About half the nuts and raisins were left and at first I felt this was bad, until I realized that, considering that a single peanut would make a good meal for a chipmunk, he had probably stuffed himself. So, hopefully he is off in some hole now, recuperating.
We really need to cover those window wells with nets or something.