Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Vole tracks

A vole is a type of field rodent... shorter tail than a mouse and smaller ears. Punkin, the orange tabby, likes to catch voles.

Most often the voles are dead and this doesn't bother me. However, lately Punkin has been putting me in the middle of her war on the voles.

I've talked to her at length about this.

"Punkin. Really. STOP putting me in the middle. Either kill it or leave it alone.
Besides, what is the sport in these little wriggly babies anyway? They can't run from you Punkin. They just lie there wriggling.
Geez Punkin. Seriously. (me shaking my head in disappointment)
Like shooting fish in a barrel, Punkin, like shooting fish in a barrel.
Now, you stop bringing me these helpless voles and I won't hold out on your cat nip... you need a fix? Then STOP with the baby voles Punkin. I mean it. I'm serious."

And still, she comes along singing her little kitty death song, spitting out this little baby vole with eyes not yet open, wobbling and wriggling on the ground in front of her. She watches for a time, grows bored that it isn't playing the run and hide game and she leaves.

I can't kill the vole.

I know it's vermin. I know people set out traps for these things. I know people kill them regularly.

But it's a baby.... it's helpless.

I pick up the little, teensy, tinsy, baby vole and I bring it in. It's the size of a grape. (an eatin' grape, not a wine grape) I put it in a plastic shoebox lined with paper towels. I have a sock filled with rice that I heat in the microwave to provide warmth and I found instructions for orphaned rats and mice on the Internet.

(This drives Furry Husband crazy by the way.)

I actually BOUGHT Enfamil soy milk powder for human infants and I mix it according to the rat/mouse website. I hold the itty bitty vole and I squeeze a drop of soy milk from a syringe, put it to the vole's little tiny mouth.... nom, nom, nom.

I do this every 3-4 hrs. I actually wake up in the middle of the night to feed this minuscule baby vole.

I sneak the vole into work and every 3 hrs I go to the first floor bathroom with my vole hidden in a lunch sack for it's feeding.

Oh - and rodents that small can't pee or poop without the mother rodent licking it's genitals... it's a cleanliness thing evidently so the burrow doesn't fill up with vole waste. So I get a small piece of a napkin, paper towel or t.p. and I flick it across the baby's bottom... sho' nuff', the teeny thing pees and poops on cue.

The first one lived 3 days and I thought for sure she was gonna make it. I named her George.

Nope. She expired on day 3.

The second one lived 2 days before it died. I named that one George II.

I really think it had to do with not having a good, constant heat source because they can't regulate body temps at that size ... my office just isn't conducive to vole body temps and the rice sock doesn't hold heat long enough.

Punkin brought me one even YOUNGER than George and George II. I kept her alive over the weekend.
We discovered if we set our oven on "warm", I could keep it at 100 degrees and that kept the baby voley vole nice and toasty.

Of course we put a big sticky note on our stove top that said, "VOLE!" so we wouldn't pre-heat the oven for something, forgetting about the vole in the oven and cook George III.

Monday rolled around and while I know the saying is "Third time's the charm..." I took George III to the Wildkind wildlife rehab center. I made them show me where George III would be housed... they had a litter of pinky mice they were rehabbing so maybe George III will have some friends to play with!


I know.

I am a complete freak.

I keep telling you this!


Madame K said...

yes, but a kindhearted freak.

Dedene said...

That is pretty obsessive. I understand your love for baby animals, but I don't think I'd go quite that far.
This is probably why you're so good at raising goats!

Shanster said...

Madame K - sucker is more like it! grin.

Dedene - I know, but I just can't walk away or kill it. Remember that I also throw worms back into the grass when they are on the sidewalk after it rains.... *shaking my head at myself*

Kelley said...

I can only imagine how difficult it must be to be you.... so many little things to save.
I think I was 13 when I finally sat down and had a good cry about all the baby birds I was not going to be able to save out at the horse barn (we had a windy night, and lots o' babies got chucked out of their nests). Life is hard.
You are wonderful Shannon... keep up the good work!

rheather said...

Make a little polar fleece bag, put the baby in it and then keep the bag in your bra.

And you might want to pin the bag shut.....

Shanster said...

Kelley - I know I try not to get attached, but figure I gotta try. It's like that starfish story? Where the girl is throwing starfish back into the sea and someone tells her there are so many what difference does it make? and she says, it makes a difference to this one as she throws it back into the sea.

Tho - I do sorta wonder if I'm just killing them slowly and being unintentionally cruel vs. having them go quick!

M&M told me to flush them down the toilet! Ach - that would be a sucky way to go wouldn't it?

rheather - um. K. I actually was trying to think of a way to put it in a pocket or my bra without it peeing and pooping on me or me squishing it! I am so wierd.

rheather said...

When the dog gifted me with Mousie(should have been Rattie!) she was tip of my thumb sized and couldn't regulate her body temp. So she spent nights in a plastic container(lots of airholes!)under the blankets by me-and cats-and days in her bag in my bra.(I had several-the poo and pee rotation i called it.)

Pinning the bag shut happened after I was talking to a co-worker and felt somebody furry crawling towards my neck. I finished that conversation real quick!

I suspect I'm past weird.....

Cheryl said...

That image of a big sticky note with VOLE! in it is hilarious. But poor, teeny little things. It's not their fault we think of them as vermin. Course, not having to deal with them, I think of them as the cute little Wind in the Willows type characters.

At least you saved George III and saved the others from death by cat. It's like you're Doctor Doolittle!

DebH said...

You have an enormous Heart there kiddo...I do that occasionally with stuff here, but truly, I am afraid I am making them suffer sometimes. I used to find so many young fledgling sparrows in my water tank, and by the third time this happened..I rigged up a floater to stay in the tank with them, so they have something to get up on. The horses are my not so good helpers though, and take to removing it for sport. Now I have it hooked with a rope and tied to the fence post behind the tank. I have saved a few if I am in time, but once they get too cold...well...at least I give it thought. Life can be brutal sometimes!!

Shanster said...

rheather - next time Punkin brings me a baby vole I'm callin' YOU!

Cheryl - I know... I had a pet rat named Wilomeena in H.S. and she was a really clean, great pet to have - never bit or peed/pooped on anyone - friendly! I sorta like rodents actually...

DebH - yeah - I try and I wonder if I'm not like the woman in Misery... just prolonging their discomfort and being cruel! I hope not... yes, you give them a thought and in my book, that is what counts!!

olivia said...

Awwww ... you are the best!

Laura said...

Our cat brought us one and we have it in the garage right now. It's not a baby but still so cute! My daughter is going to grow up to be just like you! That makes me proud!!