Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Four:

Case File No. 19-175

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AMBER LOVE 21-SEP-2020 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One, Year Two, and Year Three cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. Thank you for all your financial and social support! Oliver and Gus are looking forward to bringing you more fascinating discoveries and investigations into the chipmunk mafia, the blue jay gang, the neighborhood critters, and cryptid sightings.

This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.


Where We Left Off:

Our last case file was a depressing report on the murder of one of our favorite chipmunks, Sgt. Burrows, who was killed by Gus.


Cry of the Hunted:

This summer has been unusually abundant in rodent squatters. By that, I mean mice specifically. Whenever possible, we try to capture the mice alive and release them outside. The Grumpy Old Man doesn’t think this is a good plan and says the mice will simply find their way back to the house. I’m not sure he’s wrong.

In this case file, I’ll showcase four of the many instances where Gus and Oliver have wrangled mice. A fair warning here, not all survived their capture. I have photos and videos to share my experience living with Gus, who is a particularly good hunter when it comes to the reconnaissance part of the mission. He’s not always great about how to handle the captives after he finds them. I’d guess that half get away unharmed. Their small size is an excellent defense since these mice can find egress into the walls easily here.

 

As you can guess by the myth that cats are nocturnal which is still prevalent, I’m not surprised that almost all of Gus’ captures and hunting shenanigans occur while I’m trying to sleep. Perhaps it’s simply that the prey come out then. Also, he hunts plenty during our daytime walks. It’s opportunity. You want mice? You hunt them when they’re running along the walls from room to room.

The one that got away:

 

Oliver has been the goalie or supervisor for the indoor hunts. He mostly observes doing his best to avoid Gus so that he doesn’t become the target. It’s still an important role because when a mouse is running in circles trying to avoid Gus and then happens to see Ollie, it redirects.

One of several that were released:

The Great Critter Mix-Up of 2020:

On 13-AUG-2020 Gus made an extremely exciting discovery which I couldn’t wait to share on Instagram. I posted photos and video stating in the caption: “We need some help from friends here to determine if these pink blind babies are #squirrels or something else. They were alive but since I don’t know much about squirrels, I don’t know if I should be worried for them.” Two of the accounts I tagged replied that the baby critters were indeed squirrels.

I had created a nest in a box, before talking to Animal Control Robbie (he and his team are so cool). He said that a planter with holes for drainage is better than a box; and instructed me to elevate it up the tree where they likely fell. I thought about drilling a hook into the tree but when I saw that there were branches even I could reach (shorty!) on a small ladder, I opted for the branches. I still used a small step ladder so that I could be extra careful and make sure the planter was secure.

It hasn’t started to rain and it was hot outside. I hoped their mother would find them before nightfall when it’s been getting chillier (better than the 100% humidity). I threw a lot of peanuts and seeds around the tree hoping it would attract the right squirrel. Unfortunately it could have brought a bunch of bluejays instead, but we had to hope for the best.

I started researching the squirrel rescue process and got as far as keeping them warm and learning there’s no such thing as squirrel formula so you have to make it. I even asked The Butler to add goat’s milk, yogurt, heavy cream, and eggs to his shopping list for that night so I could make baby squirrel formula. Fortunately, I was able to cancel that order when experts were finally reached.

Then Antler Ridge Wildlife Refuge reached out to me via Instagram and told me to call or text. I did both. They directed me to Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital which handles their newborn care. I contacted them and they were so sweet and prompt on the phone. The first person said she wanted to find me a closer vet and said she would call back by the end of the day. At 5pm, I got the call that I could drive up to Franklin Lakes because there was no place else to go. The trip was about an hour and ten minutes one way.

I got dressed again for the third time that day, but my car wouldn’t start. The Grumpy Old Man was in “a mood,” so when I went back to house and informed him my car wouldn’t start and I asked to use another vehicle, I got the attitude. All I wanted was a set of keys and I’d go by myself. I didn’t ask to have the car jump-started. Instead The Cook decided to get dressed and go with me in her car, but I drove. She couldn’t figure out how to use the navigation system in the car so I had my phone reciting the Google Maps directions until I came to a red light and solved that problem. Except for the assholes of Route 80, it was a lovely ride through a beautiful part of New Jersey where rich people who like land can live (as opposed to the rich people who like the city).

We were talking the whole way up there and The Cook’s lack of care about the critters was grating on my nerves. Why save squirrels? We don’t need more squirrels! I let it all go and kept driving while trying to find funnier things to discuss. She said something about how tiny the babies were and began questioning if they were really squirrels. I said I didn’t know, but that’s what people on Instagram said they were. I’m not familiar with how big or small squirrel babies come out. I had previously read that they birth 2-3 babies two times a year. I watch squirrels every day. I figured those babies had to be pretty small to fit inside a little squirrel body. So I said, “It sure would be something if they just mice. But if they are, Gus still did his job and he’s a hero. His job is get rid of the mice.” She wasn’t buying that, but said it would something else if the babies were mice.

We arrived safely and drove around the back of the strip mall where the medical staff had instructions posted. I called the number, put my mask on, and got the box of babies ready for special neo-natal care. A woman in scrubs and mask named Ashley came out the back door and was eager to see what I had in the box. Even with the mask, I could see her genuinely smiling and curious as she examined the babies. She confirmed it: these were way too tiny to be squirrels!

Oh, good grief, Charlie Brown.

I had spent the day anxious and checking on babies every few hours and even hung them in a planter in a tree — and then drove over an hour to find out I had three baby mice! I asked if she wanted me to take them back home and in her friendly, helpful voice said no, they welcome all wildlife. Whew! She was so sweet and obviously loved her job.

During the long drive home, the exhaustion caught up to me. I had about twenty minutes to go and felt like I could have pulled the car over and slept. I managed to make it home. The Cook said she was not going to tell The Grumpy Old Man that the babies were mice while he was in a foul mood. I found some leftovers to heat up, dragged myself up the stairs, told Gus what a hero he is, and got changed yet again. Gus was still feeling the excitement of the day and was talkative. I brushed my teeth and tried to convince Gus to come on the bed. Eventually he did while I was able to play the 8pm happy hour of Seekers Notes. At 9:29pm, Gus left, I turned off the Kindle, took two Benadryls and went to sleep.

Case Findings:

Gus has proven himself to be a remarkable hunter who sometimes allows his targets to live. This affords the human the opportunity to relocate any critters to safety as long as it’s outside the house. Also noted that the human knows more about dead mammals than live ones which isn’t saying much.

Case Status: Ongoing

One that didn’t survive:

 

 

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