Rob goes to Sherry's place to check out some beavers.
Hi. I'm Rob.
Tale Number 41: Beavers
One of my neighbors got in touch with me because there was a possum that was wandering around that had been hit by a car. I didn't know where this possum was, but if I was going to try and find it and eventually catch it, I wanted to know where to take it. So I called the veterinarian that I took my dogs to and they said they would not take wild animals, but they had a wildlife rehabber that I could try and call. And so I did.
Her name was Sherry. And I just asked, hey, if I'm able to catch this, possum, could you take it? And she was like, sure, and then she started telling me about everything she did. And she mentioned that she had two beavers that she was rehabbing and how much fun she was having with them. And they're animals that, you know, people don't like. And a lot of times people kill them if they have them on their property because they'll dam up streams and things like that.
I've been fascinated by beavers since I was a little kid. They have a strong social structure, so you can see them interact and build their dams. And they're just really great. So I found that interesting that this woman was rehabbing these beavers. And at the time I was making these videos where I would go around and interview people that I thought were neat.
I only made a few of them. It didn't really pan out, but I asked her, I said, Hey. I'm making these little short documentaries about people. Do you think I could come over to wherever you are and make a video about you and these beavers? And she was like, sure. So we set a date I got her address and a few weeks later I paid her a visit.
I do need to add that. Unfortunately, I did find that possum. And it was like on death's door it had been severely injured. So I did take it to my veterinarian and they put it down.
A few days later, I arrive at Sherry's place and I'm expecting it to be like maybe a house with a barn with a bunch of cages outside or someplace where she's keeping these animals that she rehabilitates. And that's not the case at all. It's an apartment building, a regular run of the mill apartment building. She is on the bottom floor and there are three floors total.
I find her door and I knock. And she lets me in. The first thing I notice is a really strong odor. Smells kind of like a mixture of cat pee and ice cream. Beavers are known for having a sweet smelling musk. They're also territorial, so they mark their territory. So the smell was the first thing, but then just the utter devastation that was Sherry's apartment. It was a total mess. And I don't mean she was messy. This was a place that had been destroyed by animals and the only two animals she had at that time were these two beavers.
On the phone, she had mentioned that she had gotten them when they were babies, but when I finally spotted one of these beavers, just walking freely around her apartment it was gigantic. Beavers get up to four feet long. They weigh over 50 pounds. I'm guessing these two beavers weighed 50 or 60 pounds.
And, you know, beavers need water. And she had two bathrooms in this apartment, one was the main bathroom that had a really big bathtub. The other one was just like a normal sized bathroom, but it also had a bathtub. Both bathtubs were Full of water and there was water all over the floor because these beavers would run around the apartment and jump in and out of the water.
I'm not sure what they were doing, but the beavers seemed very busy. They were moving around a lot. They were soaking wet. They were clumsy and had these floppy heavy tails. It was quite a sight to see.
They also have giant teeth. So there was evidence everywhere of their chewing. The corners of her baseboards were gone. They had been chewed until they were not there anymore. It was very chaotic. Sherry was panicky. She was very nice, but she was overwhelmed. And she was like maybe we shouldn't film today. Maybe we should just let them meet you and go from there. Maybe come back another day and film. And I was like, yeah, that's fine.
And so I sat on her sofa and she brought out a huge Tupperware container full of food. She thought maybe if I fed them that would make them less afraid of me. And it was a mixture of apples and sticks. I think it was a specific kind of wood or maybe it was like a shrub or something that she had harvested from a local pond.
The two beavers walked out because they knew we had food. And this is when I learned their names. Colby and Pepperjack. They were both males. She said Pepperjack was more dominant, more feisty, more of a troublemaker. And Colby was more submissive and easier to get along with.
The way the feeding worked is I would get an apple or a stick and I would hold it out. And one of them would run up and grab it and then just run off to one of the bathrooms and you would hear splashing. And then they would come back for more. And at one point Pepperjack saw that we had this big pile of food and we were just giving them one item at a time and he went for the Tupperware bin and tried to grab it, but he didn't get it. So, the more I was there, the more I could see their personalities.
Sherry said she had gotten these guys about a year ago and they had been poisoned. So they were very sick when she got them. And at that time they were juveniles. And then they started to recover and had put on weight really fast and gotten big quickly which caught her off guard. I asked her if they had ever been outside. And she said, no, but she wanted to take them outside very soon.
And that her big concern was that she was going to get kicked out of her apartment if anyone found out that the beavers were in the apartment. And I totally agreed with her. A landlord could not dream up a situation this bad for an apartment.
And then she suggested, Hey, maybe when you come back and actually start filming this thing, we can take them somewhere and let them run around outside. And I said, yeah, that sounds great.
And I was just trying to make small talk and learn a little bit more about these beavers and. I asked if having beavers in her apartment was legal. That's when her whole demeanor changed, she sort of clammed up and didn't answer any more questions. She said she thought that the beavers had had enough for the day and that I should probably go ahead and leave. So I did.
I called her and texted her the next week. And didn't hear anything from her and I kept trying and I never heard from her again. And I think while I was there, it hit her that a video about these beavers could have a negative impact on her life and on the beavers. And she was not willing to take that risk.
Sherry loved Colby and Pepperjack. She really cared about them. She had sacrificed her entire life for them and put a lot at risk for them. The situation had gotten out of hand and I think there's something to be said about how our best intentions sometimes bump up against the reality of dealing with wild animals. It might be impossible to provide some animals with what they need.
I don't know if there's a better solution here. Certainly the beavers could have been in a better situation but I think Sherry was just trying to help two beavers that needed help. And as I mentioned earlier, beavers are often maligned creatures. So, I also think there's something really powerful and special about trying to help beings that are often unloved.
And from that perspective, Sherry was sort of a saint. I don't think it was necessarily a case of her, like holding on too hard and not wanting them to go. She knew they needed a pond. She knew they needed a place to live. I'm confident that was her goal and that she eventually made that happen.
Of course I could be totally wrong about that, but we'll never know.
Rob Tells Tales is produced by me, Rob Tiffin. The cover art is by Marcella. She also came up with the title of the podcast. Our theme music is by Mitchell Hardage. Thanks to Ben, Gordon, Marcella, and Melanie who are always there to bounce ideas around. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and at robtellstales.com. And thanks to you for listening.