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  • Miss Clover is now an elderly badger. She is going on 12 years old. When we noticed her slowing down a couple of months ago we attributed it to age. But watching her over the days and weeks, dreading the possibility that we might lose her, we decided to have a vet check her out – perhaps there was something else going on. Jean packed her up in her travel box and took her to Summer, the Victor vet that agreed to see if she could help. Ordinarily one might think that packing up a badger would be difficult, but Miss Clover idolizes Jean. She will do anything he asks. Mostly. She arrived at the clinic in state.

    The following are Summers’ words: “Growing up in Victor on a ranch I had seen my fair share of badgers, although none up close and personal and certainly none with first names. Although I had been close enough to know that they had very sharp teeth and claws, so I was intrigued by this elusive creature Jean brought to the clinic. When I got close to her carrier she hissed at me. The funny thing was that when Jean would get close and talk to her she would come nose to nose and start purring. I was very surprised at her reaction to Jean. You could tell how much she adored him. The problem was I had to examine her, not Jean. The only logical way to go about this was to sedate her. We got Miss Clover positioned in the carrier so I could give her a shot. Considering this was the first badger I had ever worked on I wasn’t sure exactly how much sedative it would take, I extrapolated doses for cats since badgers are small carnivorous creatures. The hardest part was trying to figure out how much she weighed. She looked quite large in the cage but she had a tremendous fur coat. Not wanting to give her too much sedative I started with smaller dose and we waited and then we waited some more. Miss Clover did get a little sleepy but every time I touched her she would lift her head up and hiss at me. At this point I decided to take her to the back in the carrier and use gas anesthesia to get her more sedate. Still unable to remove her from the carrier we made the carrier into an anesthesia chamber by covering it with saran wrap and putting in the anesthetic hose. Within a few minutes Miss Clover had finally given in and relaxed. We took her out and placed an anesthesia mask over her mouth and nose to keep her asleep while I examined her. I was amazed when I picked her up. She was much lighter than she appeared (only seventeen pounds) and her body shape was unlike any dog or cat I had ever seen.

    I placed her on her back to examine her hairless belly and couldn’t believe how flat she was. Even her head was flat. Her jaws were wide and very powerful but from the top of her head to the bottom of her jaw was only about 2 inches. I have seen badgers going in and out of holes but hadn’t really thought about how efficient their body design was. They are very streamlined creatures. I literally folded her in to multiple positions to see how she could maneuver in tight spots. It was truly amazing to see how small she could make herself when she needed to. In the process of studying her contortionism I pushed on her bladder and she released some very bloody urine. I examined it under the microscope and found that she had a urinary tract infection and crystals in her urine. It was scalding her belly and she had been licking and pulling her hair out wherever it had come into contact with her skin. We gently washed her belly and used burn cream on the irritated skin and placed her on antibiotics to treat the infection. We took the mask off of Clover and she slowly woke up unaware of the badger acrobatics I had put her through while she was sleeping and she went back home with her beloved Jean to recover.”

    And Miss Clover did recover. She is a young badger in spirit again. Alert. Lively. Guardian of the Small Animal Area. We look out the office window and watch the daily architectural changes… Mt. Vesuvius erupting as she digs down to China at incredible speed, dirt piling up behind her; an Alp appearing on the east side of her enclosure, crumbling and reappearing on the south side the next day……Miss Clover is back!

    Back to full badger mode, digging, charming, digging, hissing, digging, snarling, digging, giggling, loving Jean, and exploring with verve. She is back to her job of teaching people not to have preconceptions about badgers, and to question their assumptions about any animal they have not had the opportunity to meet under relaxed circumstances. She has struck so many blows for badger awareness…hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people have learned to see her kind in a new light. They have gotten glimpses of what is possible in terms of humans’ relationship to wild creatures. At the very least they have a deeper appreciation of other beings inhabiting the earth with us. She is a warrior badger.

    Click here to learn more about Earthfire Institute.
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