Orphaned Chipmunks at WildCare
Meet our baby chipmunk patients! This video streamed live yesterday on WildCare's Facebook page (facebook.com/wildcarebayarea).
Enjoy meeting these wonderful babies up close and learn how we care for them at WildCare!
WildCare only rarely admits chipmunks to our Wildlife Hospital... that is, until this year! In addition to these four tiny baby chipmunks, we have also admitted two adult chipmunks, one of which was found trapped in a garbage can!
The rescuer of these four babies found them on a hiking trail. So young their eyes were still sealed shut, these babies should not have been out of their natal den! Something must have happened to their mother and their home, leaving them stranded, cold and shivering on the trail.
Fortunately their rescuer knew to bring them to WildCare.
In the video above, streamed live on Wednesday on WildCare's Facebook page, you'll learn how we care for these striped babies in the Wildlife Hospital.
When we admitted them, each tiny chipmunk weighed less than eight grams! Their eyes were still closed, meaning they were less than three weeks old. All of them suffered from hypothermia and dehydration.
Our team spent the better part of an hour fighting to get their body temperatures back to normal.
As soon as they were warm, they received subcutaneous fluids and dextrose, then we let them rest in a heated oxygen incubator for another hour.
Once they were stable enough to feed, we started them on a special formula, made especially for squirrels, and, fortunately, chipmunks. Initial feedings were of dilute formula to allow their digestive systems to acclimate slowly.
As these young chipmunks grow up, we will increase the time between feedings of baby formula, which will encourage them to explore new foods and discover the items for which they will forage in the wild.
In the video above you can see two of the siblings chewing on a walnut.
Their teeth are not yet strong enough to make a real dent in the nut, but it obviously tastes good! Peeled grapes, nuts, and, of course, watermelon, tempt the chipmunks to eat on their own, which helps them gain weight.
As of today, the little ones all weigh 12-16 grams, a significant increase from their weights on intake, and an indication that they are healthy and growing.
Their eyes opened on July 26, which tells us that they are three weeks old. After approximately another four weeks in care, once they're old enough, we will return these four chipmunks to the area where they were found. It's clearly good chipmunk habitat!
They will return to the wild, fit and healthy, and ready to survive on their own.
What's that contraption?
When it comes time to release the baby animals that have grown up in foster care at WildCare, we work very hard to make sure the transition to life in the wild is smooth and easy.
For our young squirrels and chipmunks, we usually provide a temporary nesting box to give them a "home base" while they learn their new territory. Several days later, once the animals are no longer using the nesting box, we'll return to the release site and remove the box.
Sonoma Chipmunks usually nest underground. To provide them with a safe haven that has all the amenities of a natural chipmunk burrow, we use a box like the one in this photo, constructed by WildCare's Facilities Manager, Steven. The PVC pipes sticking out from all sides offer the animals multiple entry and exit points, as would a natural burrow. In the event a predator invades the box, the young chipmunks need other options to escape the den, which the multiple pipes provide.
This nesting box will provide our striped babies with a great launching pad for their futures as wild chipmunks!