Marmot rescued from SUV at Burnaby 8-Rinks

A marmot is recovering at the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. after being plucked from under the hood of an SUV Saturday morning in the Burnaby 8-Rinks parking lot.

The marmot was a hitchhiker, having apparently hopped into the car of Henri Jover in Merritt, where he and his son Luke had gone on a fishing trip last week, says Luke's mom, Mary Frances Hill.

"On Friday before they left they heard a chirping and thought, 'what the heck?'" Hill said.

They heard the chirping every now and then as they made the five-hour drive back to Vancouver. Even back in the city, they could still hear it.

"Then it stopped. I thought, 'Oh my god, it's either dead or gone,'" she said, noting it was parked near a park that they thought it could have wandered over to.

The next day, Saturday morning, Jover and Hill took Luke to Burnaby 8-Rinks to watch him play hockey.

"We come out and it's like, 'chirp, chirp.'"

But this time, it's coming from someone else's vehicle.

Jover left and Hill and her son stayed behind, crawling around in the parking lot looking under cars until they narrowed it down to the SUV two spots down from where they had parked.

"It survived this long, god bless it, we've got to help," Hill recalled thinking.

Luckily, the owner of the SUV showed up, and Hill called the Burnaby SPCA who arrived within five minutes. Then came another 20 minutes of searching for it until they suddenly heard a chirp coming from the hood of the SUV.

After lifting the hood, they spotted a little ball of fur, apparently jammed in under a maze of motors. "He looked like he was pretty well stuck."

With the help of a pole with a small noose-like loop at the end, the SPCA staff person managed to pluck it out of the engine and place it into a little cage.

Hill was grateful for the SPCA expertise and the patience of Dave, the SUV's owner, who was obviously late for something. "I heard him tell someone on the phone,

'I've got a marmot in my motor,'" Hill said with a laugh.

As for seven-year-old Luke, Hill said he was concerned for the marmot, "but also excited because it's wildlife where you don't expect it."

Yolanda Brooks at Wildlife Rescue said the yellow-bellied marmot is a young adult female and came in "very stressy," with singed whiskers. She was being treated for "degloved" toes—the skin on the digits of her left hind foot had come off.

Other than that, she was in very good condition, Brooks said. She was not very responsive when it came in, likely due to stress, but was much more so on Monday.

"It was very noisy in the exam room," Brooks said Monday, which is a good thing. The main challenge is getting the foot to heal, as the marmot had already pulled the dressing off once.

The Burnaby-based non-profit organization gets two to three cases a year of marmots hitching rides to the Lower Mainland, usually in Merritt, Kamloops or the Manning area. They live in rocky areas and burrow into the ground, said Brooks, who speculated that engine blocks might be similar enough to that habitat to cause them some confusion.

Knowing where this particular marmot came from will help Wildlife Rescue get her home again. Brooks said when she's healed, they'll likely seek a volunteer to transport it back to Merritt.

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