Friday, February 10, 2006

Chipmunk Victim

***Important Disclaimer*** If you've been bitten by a chipmunk, or rodent of any kind, seek medical attention as quickly as possible. Risk from a staph infection from a rodent bite is as serious as Rabies and equally life-threatening. ***

Let me set this story up:

It is early summer. My back yard, which backs up to 26 untouched acres, is glorious.
The acreage is lush with dogwoods, Hickory trees, old Oaks, towering Pine trees, lots of deer and many lovely little woodland creatures.

About 5 pm one evening, with the sun still high in sky-- basking in the lengthening of his days, I was standing in the kitchen taking in the view. I noticed my lovable kitty, Margaret, who is the gentlest cat I have ever owned, coming out of the woods and into our back yard. I stared at her for a moment because something did not seem right, something about her face looked unusual--there was something in her mouth...and it was moving.
"What does she have in her mouth?!" I said aloud, to no one. Tossing down the dish-towel I was holding, I ran to the door and out onto the deck. "Margaret!", I called, "Drop it!"
Now, if you have ever had ANYTHING to do with a cat, you will know that this was a silly thing to sayÂ…Margaret does as she pleases, as all cats do.
The tiny creature is squirming, and yikes! I can see it is a Chipmunk, my very favorite of all little rodents and Disney characters. My heart is beating a bit faster now, I know if I do not get the chipmunk from Margaret it will die a chewy death, and I just love little chipmunks!

I kind of corner Margaret and she stops moving. She drops the poor creature on the ground, it tries to scurry away, but it is so disoriented that it actually runs back to Margaret and tries to hide under her!
So, now I begin talking to the chipmunk, who is quite pitiful. If my antics had been recorded it would sound a bit like thisÂ…and mind you, I was all by myself in the back yard.

"Oh you poor thing! Come over here and let me help you! Margaret! Don't you, No, don't pick it up again! Here little Chipmunky! I will save you!"

About this time the 2 of my other cats start to notice the commotion (did I mention that I have 3 cats in all?) And they start to cross over into the back yard as well. Now I am no military genius, but I can spot an ambush when I see one. This is going to call for desperate measures, I am going to have to just go in there and scoop the poor little thing up in my hands before I watch a massacre unfold.

So, with no more thought than that, Mamma to the rescue! With one swift movement, I reached under Margaret, who was now growling at me, and grabbed the trembly and somewhat punctured chipmunk, just in time for the other 2 cats to arrive right at my feet.
For a split second, I thought I was a hero, but then things went dreadfully wrongÂ…

Unfortunately, despite all my conversing with the chipmunk, and pleading with the cat to let it go, it did not understand that I was saving it; nor did it take kindly to being scooped up. With lightening speed it sunk all 4 front teeth into my pointer finger on my left hand. I was in shock! So much so, that I raised my hand, and watched, in horror, the chipmunk dangle from my finger, then I looked up towards the sky (did I think God was watching?) and I yelled, at least 2 times, "I don't believe this! My gosh, I do not believe this is happening to me!!!"

However, within a few seconds, the searing pain of all 4 teeth, overlapping each other and sunk in real tightÂ…I had to admit that I was now being chewed on.

It would not let go! It just clamped down with all its might and held on for dear life.
All 3 of the cats are standing at my feet, looking up at me, almost as if to say, "Mamma, now why did you go and do that? Just put the critter on the ground and we will take care of things."

Well, so much for the love affair with the chipmunk, with 2 hard flings he finally let go, and I didn't give a rat's fanny where he landed!

Bleeding profusely I ran into the house, grabbed the dish-towel, headed for the couldn'tnd washed vigorously. I couldnÂ’t get over the fact that the little bugger had bitten me!
I thought it'd be ok to simply put some Neosporin on it and a bandage, but I called my sister to see what she thought and she freaked out. Robin said,

"You got bit by a chipmunk! You could get rabies! You HAVE to go to the hospital or urgent care!!! DonÂ’t wait, this could be very serious! If you won't go, I will come over there and haul your butt to the Dr. myself!!!"
And, no doubt, she would have.

So, absolutely dreading going to the ER, I called the closest Urgent Care clinic to see how long they would be open. Just my luck, open till 9pm!

I grab my cell phone on the way out the door, and I call my husband and tell him to meet me at Urgent Care.
He, of course, wants to know why.
I said, "Well.. honey...I've been bitten by a chipmunk."
He said, "What? You have been bitten by a what?"
I said, "You heard me, A chipmunk. Margaret was trying to eat it, and I tried to save it, and then it bit me!"
He starts laughing.
I say, "This is not funny! Really not funny! *sniff-sniff* Robin said I could get RABIES! (I am starting to get a tiny bit concerned)
He is still laughing, I have to wait a second or 2 for him to re-gain his composure.
Finally, he said,
"Ok Cora, I'm leaving work, I will be there as soon as I can."

I get to the clinic and check myself in.
"Hello", I say, "I need to see a Dr. I have an animal bite."
Nurse says, "What kind of animal bite?"
I say, "Well, I was bitten by a small rodent."
"Oh dear." Says the nurse. "Was it a squirrel, or a rat? They can be pretty nasty bites you know."
"No", I replied quietly, "I was bitten by a chipmunk."

There was a laugh from the other side of the counterÂ…another nurse was snickering. The nurse I was talking to tried not to laugh out loud in front of me and had to speak with a clenched jaw to ask me to fill out my paperwork.
Fortunately, I am right handed, I fill out the forms, turn them in, and I notice the nurse wonÂ’t look me in the eye, but she is grinning.

Finally my husband arrives. He is all smiles. My finger is throbbing, I could, at that very moment be being poisoned by nasty-rodent-teeth-germs, and he looks as if he can barely contain himself!

He says, "How are you doing honey?"
"Well, I have had better afternoons at the dentist's office!" I snapped.
He puts his arm around me, "Everything will be fine. Why in the world did you try to pick up a terrorized chipmunk? You should have at least put gloves on!"
Oh, great, now I get the lecture!
And all the people in the waiting room are listening and starting to giggle, even the sick people!

"Look", I whispered in a dangerously hot voice, "I have caught 3 or 4 chipmunks in the last few years and I have never been bitten before! And besides, that dang Steve Erwin jumps on alligators, snatches up poisonous snakes, and plays with deadly spiders, ALL in one episode and never gets a scratch! You would think I could rescue a little critter and not end up at a Dr's office!!!"

My husband notices that I am a bit huffy and decides not to converse with me for the next few minutes. I go and sit in corner and wait for the Dr and whish that the other patients would stop looking at me!

Finally, another nurse comes out and says, "Mrs. B, follow me." I jump up, cradling my bloody finger (it really was not that bloody), and say, "Thank you". I follow the nurse back and she puts me in a little room, my husband walks in behind her.
The nurse asks, "Now, Mrs. B, what happened to you today?" With a straight face I recount the afternoon events.
The nurse smiles, she is so kind not to laugh at me, and says, "May I see the bite?"

"Of course" I say, and unwrap the paper towel and show her some cute little teeth marks that go all the way through my skin.
Then the nurse asks me, "Mrs. B., were you able to keep the chipmunk so we can be sure he did not have rabies?"
Well! I replied, raising my voice a little, For goodness sake, no I didn't keep him!!! I had to fling him off to make him let go! Besides, I am pretty sure one or more of the cats ate him for supper."
"Well, that is too bad", says the nurse, "The Dr will be in to see you in a moment."

And in just a moment the Dr. did arrive. He was smiling from ear to ear. He said, "Mrs. B. I am Dr. So&So and I hear that you had an encounter with a chipmunk."
"Yes", I said, returning his smile. "I was trying to rescue it from a cat."

This earned me no sympathy points at all...

The Dr. smiled again, and said, "Well, Mrs. B. cats are supposed to catch chipmunks, next time I would advise you to just let nature have her way and leave the chipmunks alone. Let me have a look at the damage."
"Such good advice!", I said cheerfully, "I just wish we could have had this conversation before today!" I was smiling, and did sound respectful, but there was a slight growl in the tone of my voice.

He took a look, called another nurse, and moved me into the surgical room...which I did not take as a good sign. We talked about rabies, he called animal control, and there were no reported cases of rabies in our county or any of the surrounding counties. He also called the CDC and discovered that while chipmunks can theoretically be infected with rabies, there were actually no reports of such in all of North America.

"Whew!" I said, "I am so glad to hear that! I guess I came in here for nothing, didn't I?
Finally, I laughed! The Dr. grinned, and shook his head no. "Cora, while you will not get rabies from this, the bite is still very serious. A rodent's mouth is extremely dirty and with out treatment you could actually die from blood poisoning in a matter of days."

"Good Heavens!" I exclaimed. "Who would have thought a little chipmunk could be lethal! It's like the killer rabbit in the Holy Grail (Monty Python), the one with BIG SHARP POINTY TEETH!!!" And I did a slight imitation of the Wizzard Tim.
The Dr. nearly fell over laughing! As did the nurse, and my husband...and I am finally laughing too, …though my finger is hurting quite a bit by now.

The wound was soaked, disinfected, and given a shot. Then they bandaged my finger, then wrapped in gauze, and then put on a partial cast, and wrapped it again! I said, "Why all the bandages? I look like I have been bitten by an alligator!"
The Dr,chuckling, said, "I do not want you to move your finger at all. The bite is near the joint, can not really be stitched, and needs to be immobilized. Also, you have to keep your hand higher than your heart for the next 24 hours, as well as take an antibiotic for the next 7 days."

"But", I protested, as I began to ponder the implications of what he was saying,
"How will I get dressed, or go to the bathroom? Or cook, or work at the church tomorrow??? I can't have my left hand out of commission. I've got 2 kids!"
My husband is grinning for a different reason and chimes in, I'll help you get dressed and undressed...and it's only for 24 hours. I think we can manage."

And we did manage...and he learned that while he had mastered the art of being able to remove certain undergarments, putting them back on me was another matter entirely.
He had to wash my hair that evening, and help me blow it dry. He had to do a lot of things that all of us take for granted, all of us with 2 hands that work most of the time.

The hardest part was the next day, wearing that cast, keeping my hand above my heart, and explaining to everyone that I had been bitten by a chipmunk, which was just hysterically funny to everyone, and even to me by the time the whole thing was over.

My pastor, who saw me when I was helping answer the phones at the church office, just shook his head and laughed like it was the funniest story he had ever heard.

He actually said to me,
"If another member of the Church had told me about this, and had asked me to guess which person had been bitten by a chipmunk, without hesitation, I would have said it was you-- Cora!"
Thanks, I think!

My backyard is still lovely, and the cats catch everything from moles, to snakes, to squirrels...and when I see the carnage taking place, I just turn my head and walk away.

I have learned my lesson:
I was a chipmunk victim; don't let it happen to you! ;)


Mayden's Voyage said...

Sorry for all the weird symbols, I will re-edit when I have a minute!
-BellaCora :)

Mac said...

Oh dear. Heh. Do try to be more careful about the wildlife. My cat occasionally brings little grass snakes in through the window.


I'm not sure how to convince her not to.

doc-t said...

rule of thumbs.. if it has sharp teeth... fur... and has been chewed on by something that might eat it...

be careful...

on the other hand.. it is a VERY cute story....

Mark Pettus said...

I can't help thinking how lucky you were the cats didn't decide to climb your leg and rescue you...

Great story.

JL4 said...

Is there some sort of Chipmunk Attack support group or maybe a telethon to raise money for victims?

You may be part of a larger pool of survivors than most would think.

Let me "google" it and find out.

conservativedude said...

Well... I wish I had read your blog earlier! :) Two days ago our cat brought a young chipmunk home and I successfully rescued it, albeit it had a hurt leg. So my wife and I set up a makeshift cage to try and rehabilitate the little chippy in. Well the next day our industrious cat brought another chippy into our house and an hour later after a chase reminiscent of the 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' squirrel scene we had another even larger and seemingly unhurt chippy on our hands. Initially I was going to let the larger chippy go but then concocted the romantic notion that maybe this was the smaller chippy's momma who came looking for its young one! So, I placed the two chippy's together and immediately the larger chippy straddled the smaller chippy and appeared to growl at me as if protecting the smaller chippy. Ahhhh I thought... I was right! Now progress to about 45 minutes ago to the scene of the so called 'Mommy' chipmunk beating the heck out of the poor, smaller, and already injured chippy! :( Me to the rescue!... Grab evil big chippy!... and sure enough, evil big chippy lets me have it! Now I'm bleeding on my right index finger... have the evil big chippy in my left hand and I am contemplating wringing his/her neck! However, I keep my composure and not to delicately drop the bugger over the fence (... though I must admit the thought of calling my cat over did enter my mind!) Poor, little chippy has a few nasty bites so I hope he/she survives. My wife's mothering instincts are in full swing now so I know she's going to want to keep it! Oh boy. Anyway, I was googling 'Chipmunk rabies' and found you! Add me to the list of 'Chipmunk Attack Victims'... brave fools who let their hearts get in the way of letting 'Nature take its course'! :)

Mayden' s Voyage said...

I really advise you to have the bite looked at. I was anti-biodics for a week. A blood infection from a chipmunk bite is very likely and it can be fatal.
A friend was bitten by a squirrel and was almost septic in 3 days- it took her 3 months in the hospital to recover. A chipmunk bite is just as serious.
Take good care- and thanks for stopping by!

ellie said...

unfortunately this just happened to me too. I was googling chipmunk rabies and found you. My 3 yr old son and I were on a walk through the neighbor hood and found a small chipmunk who seemed to have broken his back legs. Pick him up, bring him home, and like magic his legs work again. I take him outside to let him go but he doesnt want to leave the cage. So i reach in and now have a bite on my left index that hurts pretty bad. Def learned my lesson... They are so cute though! But not worth getting bit!

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Thanks for your comment :)
I do hope you'll have the bite looked at by a Dr. An infection can be very serious.

Hope you and your son have a great summer!

Anonymous said...

I too was searching rabies in chipmunks and found your site . GREAT story, and like the other victims I wish I had read it a few days ago. I have been stuck out on our acreage for 3 weeks with a work injury and we have alot of chipmunks, I decided in my boredom to start feeding them and well now have several pets, except for one. I went over to offer some sunflower seeds and noticed this one wasn't as friendly when his tail went up and he got into the pounce position , I backed off , but alas too late. The little bugger flew off the wall and attached himself to my finger! Luckily there is no broken skin, but I felt I should call a vet or whatever to find out if I should be concerned, ok there was a few places where he "scratched the surface of my skin". To make a long story short. I talked to just about every health care official from Health links to public health nurses , and after being told I might have rabies spent 3 hours in Emerg only to have a tetnus and never get to see the dr, but a nurse told me I should be fine . As you said you hear alot of snickers over being attacked by a chipmunk. I have been scared ever since of rabies , but I did manage to get a hold of our federal vets and she told me there are no reported cases of rabies from chipmunks . It is scary though..I have been paranoid since (one of the signs of rabies lol) I thought I would share my story here too. It seems there are a few of us victims out there . I still feed them , I just gave up petting them , and I have decided on a domesticated pet after this lol.

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Thank you for sharing your story here! I love your attitude and I think the choice of a domestic pet is probably a good idea :)
Of course, now I'm feeding racoons! But I don't try to pet them! :)
Thanks for stopping by- you are always welcome here :)

Anonymous said...

Chalk up another one here. Found one in our basement (lord only knows how it got in there), chased it around until I'd cornered it, picked it up, carried to the door, opened it up, and whammo, ouch!, it bit me. Needless to say I was quite surprised and dropped it, much to our one of our dog's pleasant surprise, and of course then immediately has grabbed it up and trots off.
More concerned with the chipmunk than my finger (I'd had a hamster as a child, and know that while the bite hurts like the dickens, it's usually quite minor) off I go to rescue it a second time. Too late unfortunately, the dog dropped it immediately upon being told to, but the poor thing seemed to have suffered a heart attack from all the stress.

Thankfully rabies appears to not be a real likelihood (although my wife was as adamant as some others about the need to go to the hospital at once), and I've doctored it up.

I'll kind of miss our little furry yard resident though, am quite used to seeing it around.

lynnie said...

Hi there! Well I am sitting here on my bed wondering if I need to go to the ER after getting..... you guessed it! A chipmunk bite!! My story involves a chipmunk that somehow made it to my upstairs bedroom (in the mouth of one of my cats I'm sure). Anyway early this morning they were running around like crazy and I saw the poor little chipmunk hiding for cover. I got my two cats out of the room and tried to find the chipmunk with no luck. Even the cats couldn't locate this little guy. So I'm hoping he's still alive and just not visible. I get home tonight and the cats are at it again. Eureka! chipmunk found. I ushered him into my bathroom and gave it some cat food hoping to calm it down and catch it. Well I understand now why cats have such a good time with these guys. They are HARD to catch! So finally I cornered it and grabbed it after futile attempts to use a blanket to get it, and just got it with my hand. Successful pick up . Chipmunk free and outside! but Index finger, left hand, clamped down, bleeding with two contact spots. Wondering whether or not to go to the ER or if I can wait until tomorrow.....Washed the site, put soap on it and then poured hydrogen peroxide on it and kept a wet solution of hydrogen peroxide to keep it clean and clear. Initially VERY painful not so much now, feels almost normal, grateful to know that rarely do they carry rabies....

Mayden' s Voyage said...

Let me know how it goes. I don't think te ER is necessary, but seeing a Dr. and getting antibiodics to fight a staph infection is important. Staph is AS deadly as rabies...seriously. 10 days worth of antibiodics is worth saving your life.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone got bit, just cleaned it out real good, and was just fine? I got bit by a 5-6 week old baby (very small) and I really don't want to waste the $ on a doctor if people are just over reacting....


Anonymous said...

Hi all,
My name's Max. I got my index finger end bit by a chipmunk last Sunday. At once, I let some blood flow of the wound out to clean it, then washed it with soap and water real well. It was hurting pretty bad. I went online while still bleeding a little, and found a good Free MD page where if you follow the links they tell you what to watch for and what the MD should do. I also found this page and I thought it was far on the side of caution, but thanks for keeping it; all points of view were important to me! So I decided I'd do some more first aid myself, then watch if it gets worse, and only then I'd go th the ER if it gets bad. I cleaned the wound of dead tissue (a couple small flaps, nail clippers worked well), cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide, applied Neosporin, and went to bed. I didn't see any symptoms in the next days that could warrant going to a hospital. By Thursday, the wound closed completely, and by Friday I stopped noticing it. So to answer the anonymous poster of May 30, 2012, I got bit, cleaned it out real good, and was just fine some days later. Cheers!

5catjenny said...

Ha! Same thing just happened to me just a little bit ago. Cats bring these critters in the pet door, so I can't let nature take place on the carpet! I keep old dish towels to scoop up critters, this one managed to get his head out & let me have it! 2 punctures, they bled. I squeezed more to maybe help get germs out, now soaking in Betadine(kills everything) Will keep an eye for infection & know there's been no rabies cases in my area. So you're not alone!

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