A close call and teenage days
After the success of sustaining Vlad for the first night, things swiftly developed. Goats milk feeds were every 2 hours during the day and he was loving it! Occasional solids were offered, but he didn’t show any interest in these until another few days, the picky blighter. Day 2 went on well with little to update on, but it was either that night or the next where things got a bit emotional.
Preparing for an early end
Vlad was still very much a little baby, eyes closed, ears folded, size too adorable to put into words. The shoe box so far had been doing well and he appeared to be truly settled in, always tucking to bed in his cloth after an evening in my shirt pocket. Nothing seemed fishy that night (must have been night 3), but when I awoke Vlad was certainly not himself.
As usual I lifted him out of bed and held him as I began his feed, however he was disinterested in the milk he usually falls into a trance for. In general his movement was slow and weak. Rather than sitting firmly by himself, I had to support him with my fingers or else he’d simply lie on his side. A day before, Molly had made an electrolyte water solution, and fearing dehydration, I dashed down stairs to retrieve it. I managed to get a few droplets of the solution into his mouth with the paint brush, but nothing was voluntarily done by Vlad himself. At this point he was now on his side gasping. It was horrible to watch. I awoke Molly, passed Vlad over to her and we just lay in bed as a three pondering on what to be done and shedding a few tears as we watched him fade.
It was weird, I wasn’t surprised at what was happening. He was still at his most vulnerable and at the end of the day there must have been loads that as humans we just simply couldn’t offer that a mother vole would. It was upsetting, but knowing how his life had been over the past few days reassured me that attempting to take care of him, no matter the outcome, was a good move.
Now this is all very sad. I’m sure around the world there are torrents of tears as millions read this…or not, but still, fear not friends because Vlad is strong like bull and after half an hour his recovery began! We don’t know how or why, but Vlad slowly became more active. He fed when we offered water and milk and after a short time was back to himself.
I still don’t really know what that was all about, but the weather up till that night had been beautiful and warm, some may even say it was summer. It then dropped back into the standard weather for Cornwall that evening so my thoughts are that the drop in temperature led to a colder night in the room, and as he was still vulnerable to variants in temperature, he may have been bordering on hypothermia. I’m no expert though so if anyone has any ideas then please let me know.
New crib for the new Vlad
Relieved with the survival of Vlad, it was time to up our game as a reward for his efforts at staying alive. The next day (day 4 now I think), Josh and Ju, top lads the both of them, lent us a glass tank and some spare wood shavings from their stock for Napoleon the hamster (a character to enter the saga’s soon). Also, whilst doing a spot of shopping for milk, Molly returned in typical fashion carrying more items then she intended to buy and thus we gained a bag of meadow hay.
We made his new digs cushty as a voles den and introduced him to the pad. Vlad was a bit jumpy at first and would take any opportunity to climb into our hands, but honestly he has settled in so much now that we rarely see him and he’ll often choose his burrows through the hay rather than our hands. Along with this updated bedding and cover, came a unique kitchen resembling the underside of a jam jar lid and a water source (or toilet according to Vlad) held within a milk bottle lid. Central heating is also provided through an outdoor generator (Hot water bottle).
He officially has all he needs in terms of home comforts, alleviating some concerns of his health, but its more his fast development over the past few days that has confirmed him as an independent soul.
Shortly after the incident, Vlad’s development went through the roof! During the course of one night both of Vlad’s eyes opened. Like dark portals into his working mind they fed his curiosity. His activity increased and he would now shoot off with purpose towards any source of potential burrow. When holding him, he’d escape due to a lapse of concentration, scurry up your arm into crevasses of your clothes, somehow turn up amongst your hair, escape a grasp or two finding himself now in open ground and pelt it towards the back of furniture. We’d dash around in mad panic, trying to get grasp of him as he ran but in a fashion that wouldn’t hurt the tiny fella. In my view, from that point onward, he has been a little budding teen rebelling against the system.
It was around the time of the eye opening that he also took a fancy to solid foods. Spinach leaves, clover, oats, seeds and blueberries became a regular input to milk feeds. Literally over the course of a day, he suddenly turned his nose to milk completely and relied solely on the food we left him in his jam jar lid, I mean kitchen. If we attempted to feed with the paint brush Vlad would just chew on the fibres so we quickly aborted that strategy. Just in case he does still require the sustenance of goats milk (and also because no one else in the house drinks the damn stuff) we soak his oats with it to make a little vole porridge which he often favours over other food. Blueberries are also a particular favourite. We only ever cut 1/4 of a berry for him but he finds it immediately and takes it to a particular chamber in his burrow that is visible through the glass tank. Blueberries have been cut down in his diet, now through advice that too much fruit could be too sugary for dental health.
Now his ears are unfolded too. He’ll respond to a high pitch squeak I make with my lips when I want his attention which is super cute, but as I said before, he is so comfortable in his den that this is often the only contact we’d have from time to time. Don’t get me wrong he still comes to our hands but we can now go hours on end knowing he’s a happy chap.
The speed of his development came as a surprise to both Molly and I, but to be fair its great. Daily care is now simply refreshing water and food in the morning, he deals with everything else. Yet there is still much more to go in his saga, I’m sure of it.