April 30, 2020: San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center tales

‘A Snake on the Outskirts’ and Other Adventures in the Daily Life of the San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center

The San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center has been rescuing and rehabilitating raptors (hawks, falcons, owls, eagles) and other birds and animals for more than 40 years in Merced and the surrounding San Joaquin Valley. They get all kinds of calls and requests. For example, a week or two ago a neighbor presented them with a baby Hummingbird. There is nothing more adorable than a baby Hummingbird but few creatures have a more voracious appetite and require feedings hourly, day and night. It’s no picnic being a mother Hummingbird or a person responsible for feeding a lost baby.

Today a resident from the northern outskirts of the City of Merced called to ask if the Raptor Center would please come out and remove a snake from their front garden.

“What kind of snake?” the Center asked.

The lady didn’t know. She didn’t seem to know anything about the snake but that it ought to be removed from her property.

“Did it make a rattling or a buzzing kind of sound?” the Center inquired.

The resident of the outskirts of town didn’t know but seemed to be indignant than a snake – a snake of any kind – should be on her property. She seemed about to complain that the snake might lower her property value and the woman at the Center got a little abrupt with her.

“Nature exists,” she said. “You live on the border with the country, where Nature lives. You have to expect visits from time to time.”

Others said her customer relations were not at their best this afternoon. But it would a good question: Why does anyone who is terrified of Nature live where she is more likely to encounter more of it  than she would living in the middle of town. Not that we lack raccoons, opoasums, rats., and squirrels here, too, along with feral dogs and cats.

But the virus has everyone a little jittery.

The Center representative took a deep breath and said that she would not collect the snake and urged the woman not to bother it.  She suggested instead that the resident of the outskirts should keep any children and pets in the home inside for the night on the off-chance it was a rattler and that probably the snake would be gone in the morning.

“Will we be called to remove Black Widow spiders next? the lady from the Center asked.

A few days earlier a woman had called because, she said, Ground squirrels were menacing her dog from on top of her house.

The representative of the Center asked what color the squirrels might be.

“Red,” the caller said.

“Those are Tree squirrels,” the Center replied. “They aren’t going to hurt your dog. All they are doing is telling it to stay away from their nest, where they are raising a family.”

“I think they are raising their family in our chimney,” the caller said. “I’ve found droppings in the fireplace.”

“Close the flue,” the Center advised.

Well, evidently the flue wasn’t very tight and the homeowner was afraid the squirrels would come down the chimney into the house. One could imagine a war with the dog in the dark livingroom, smashed lamps, blood-stained settees, carnage.

The Center advised that the homeowner place a piece of cardboard in the front of the fireplace and put a cap on the chimney in the fall after the squirrels have gone.