Last night, after I got home from work, I wanted to sit outside a bit, because it was unbearably gorgeous. Possibly the last warm day of the year.
I headed out to the patio, with a beer, and when I stepped outside, there was a problem.
A chipmunk was sitting on my patio.
I’m not afraid of them or anything, but I don’t really care to share my patio, either.
I opened the door, thinking I’d just make some noise and scare him off. I did, and he freaked out. He started frantically running in circles and falling over. I thought he might be drunk. He eventually wormed his way over to the side of the patio that I don’t use and sat quietly. I watched intently and noticed that even when resting, he was trembling and swaying from side to side.
I could see him quite clearly, and there was no blood nor discernible injury, but something was clearly wrong with this guy. As I watched, he slumped over and closed his eyes. I actually thought I was watching him die. I didn’t know what to do. Chipmunks, for all their annoying habits, are actually very cute. And they’re so very small. He looked so helpless at that moment and I knew there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t taking him to a damn vet, this is just part of nature.
A few moments later and the neighbors dog streaked by, chasing a squirrel. It startled poor Alvin and he began “running” again. It was obvious that this little fella was severely injured. He couldn’t actually run. I wonder if his legs weren’t broken. He’d scoot forward and then literally tip over to one side. He’d pick himself up and try to move and tip to the other side. When he got some momentum going, he only seemed to be able to move in a circle–to his left. A couple of times, he fell over so hard he actually rolled completely over and ended up on his feet again.
If it weren’t plain that he was in pain and severely injured, this would have been funny. He kept scooching around my patio, trying to find a safe place, I suppose.
I began thinking, what if he dies on my patio? Not that it would be that big of a deal, but I don’t really want to have to deal with a dead carcass in the morning. Plus, what if another animal decides that his dead body looks like dinner? I don’t want chipmunk guts all over my patio.
Finally, I decided that he’d be safer in the woods, probably a lot more comfortable, too. I grabbed a thick sweatshirt (from the dirty laundry) and decided I would pick him up and carry him to the woods and let him go out there. I was worried, because I didn’t want to hurt him, but I needed him gone. Plus, I think I’d spent enough time pondering this little guy’s world.
As though he read my mind, Alvin suddenly popped up from his crouch and launched himself toward the end of the patio. He got to the edge and his legs gave out and he rolled, right off the edge, onto the grass. Now, the part he rolled off of was probably 4″ off the ground, not super high, but we’re talking about a chipmunk here. He is maybe 3″ high. It would be like if I rolled off a 7 foot cliff–or so I imagine. I was worried he hurt himself, before realizing that was a stupid worry, this creature was trying to find a place to die. An extra injury was hardly a concern.
He twitched about in the grass for a bit, and then lurched forward again. He moved around in the grass and managed to wedge himself against the side of the patio. Then, with that propping him up, he was able to move forward. Eventually, he made it the entire length of my patio and around the corner. He moved along the edge of my neighbors patio until I lost sight of him in the grass.
I hope he found some place comfortable and safe. I have no doubt that by now, Alvin is no more.