My Pet Groundhog, Chuckie
This is the Story Of How Chuckie Became Part Of Our Family
This is a short tale of the day we found our little friend Chuckie, the groundhog (woodchuck). It is happy and it is sad. Make sure if you ever run across an injured or abandoned animal that you contact the proper wildlife rehabilitation authorities. It is hard to believe when they are so small and dependent on us that they will grow up and not be so tame. But generally, that is what happens. Even if they do become really tame it's not fair to take them out of their natural environments. Wildlife rehabilitations are trained to help fix any injuries the animal might have. They are also trained to make sure the animal stays "wild" and can be reintroduced back into their natural habitat. So no matter how tempting it may be to keep an animal you find, please do the right thing for the animal.
How We Found Chuckie
One day my the kids and I were at a park and they decided to go venture down a nearby trail. They saw this little creature that was just laying there and not moving. They ran to get me to see if I could help it or find it's mother. It was only about two inches long. We weren't even sure what it was. It's eyes were still closed and it couldn't walk. We left him alone for a while to see if his Mom would come get him. But by the end of the day we realized he was going to die if we just left him. I don't know if something happened to his Mom or if maybe some kids from the park moved him from where he was but we didn't want him to get stepped on or preyed upon by another animal.
Learning About How To Take Care Of a Woodchuck
So we took him to the local pet store and they said he was a ground hog, or a woodchuck. So we took him home and named him Chuckie. THe pet store told us to feed Chuckie milk. We fed him from my daugter's doll's bottle. Chuckie started growing and soon his little eyes opened. We would take him outside. We tried to let him go. We had hoped that he would just run into the woods and be okay, but Chuckie had other plans. He loved to climb trees and he would run and hide. But as soon as we headed back to the car, he'd beat us there. He loved being part of our family.
Bonding With Chuckie
Chuckie was sooo sweet. When I fed him, he'd sit on my lap leaning his back against my stomach and I'd hold the baby bottle of milk, and he'd hold my fingers with his. It was just like a how a little baby grabs your finger when you hold it out. He would sleep at the end of our bed and was cat litter trained.
As he grew older it got hard to take care of him though. He wanted to play all the time and his now big sharp teeth hurt a lot when he tried to play bite us. The kids started to be afraid to play with him and at night he woke us up a couple times biting our toes trying to get us to play.
But we still loved him. He loved to sit on my shoulders with his paws resting on top of my head all day. He would run right up me to my shoulders. If I was doing dishes he was sure to be in his favorite position on my shouders.
One day I came home from work and I couldn't find Chuckie. I looked everywhere. Normally as soon as someone walked in the door he would run up to greet them. I thought maybe he had snuck out a door or window somehow. We were all sad but thought, well, maybe he's free now. He was getting really big and it hurt when he played with us. Maybe this was for the better. But we missed our little friend!
A couple months went by. Then one day I came home from work and there he was, sitting in the living room. He ran at me! I wasn't sure if he would even remember me! But he ran right up me onto my shoulders, his favorite place ot sit! It was like he had never been gone.
Later we found a hole he had chewed through the closet wall. He must of gone in the wall to hybernate. But now he was back! We were so excited.
Saying Goodbye To Chuckie
Shortly after Chuckie returned, a neighbor found out we were raising a woodchuck and called the wildlife habitat in our area. They came and got him while I was at work. I came home from work to find a note on my door from them saying to report to them as soon as I could. Well they scolded me about trying to raise a wild animal, but then wanted to see how he interacted with me so asked me to come into their office. As soon as he heard my voice he started running around the cage. He jumped out and I held him and played with him. I felt so guilty leaving him there. I cried when I had to leave and he looked so confused. Why was I leaving him there?
We got lucky, in many cases like this the animal cannot be rehabilitated once it is domesticated. But a local farmer had a liscense to have these animals, and he adopted Chuckie and another woodchuck that they also found that was domesticated. So Chuckie at least still went to another home, with another female woodchuck. I really hope Chuckie lived happily ever after with his new mate.
If you find an injured animal or an abandoned animal, go to this link to find an animal rehab by you: http://www.wildthingssanctuary.org/what-to-do-if-you-find-an-injured-animal.html
Laws On Keeping Wildlife
Each state is different, so make sure you find out the laws in your state before trying to raise a wild animal. You can get a fine and jail time for keeping a wild animal at your house.