Woodchucks aren't known for playing possum, but that seemed to be the case for one of the furry critters in a suburban backyard. The homeowners watched from afar for three days, and after seeing no movement they approached it with a shovel for removal.
Much to their surprise, they realized it was still alive – barely. They called wildlife rescuer Molly Ryan, who began the woodchuck's long road to recovery. Ryan, who has helped woodchucks before, dubbed the furball Coco and set to work administering the care she would need to become chipper once more.
Coco was severely dehydrated from her ordeal, and her days of lying in the yard led to birds pecking her head. Ryan wasn't sure how Coco ended up in this precarious position, but she knew that without help the injured woodchuck would soon die. The normally rotund woodland creature was just skin and bones at the beginning of her treatment, but she soon perked up and began to regain her health and weight.
As Coco healed, a bond developed between rescuer and rescuee. Ryan at first kept Coco in her bedroom "to keep an eye on her." Soon Coco was snuggling in bed as if she had been born there. But as Coco began to roam the house, Ryan noticed something odd: Coco seemed to walk in circles. She also noticed that Coco didn't open her eyes all the way but instead looked like a sleepwalker.
A visit to the vet confirmed her worst fears: Coco was blind. Although Ryan's goals as a wildlife rehabber
is to return animals to their natural habitat, she realized that would not be possible with Coco. Instead, Coco became the newest member of the Ryan family and now accompanies her on educational presentations as an "animal educator," teaching people how to interact – or not – with wild animals.
The family who found Coco in their backyard did the right thing by calling Ryan, and it turned into a happy ending for all.