We have all seen them. They lay strewn along the asphalt, the hardly noticed victims of a technology they will never understand. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over one million unfortunate animals meet their demise on the endless stretch of roads that knit our nation together every year. And yet these numbers are misleading; they represent the ones that can be counted. But what of those that were left unseen? What of the dependents? These are the young that are suddenly forced to fend for themselves, orphaned by the V-8 or straight 6. What is to become of them?
Rebecca’s Rodent Ranch and Rescue
For Rebecca Cobb, owner of Rebecca’s Rodent Ranch and Rescue, this heart-wrenching question became a call to action. But it wasn’t something that was planned; it was a mission quite literally dropped in her lap. It began in 2020, a year that most of us would like to forget. While covid ravaged the world and most of us hunkered in seclusion, an accident happened, and with it came Jelly Bean.
Jelly Bean is not the chewable candy responsible for so many dentist vacations but an opossum: A lone infant marsupial whose mother had been struck down on a country road just outside of Jones, Oklahoma. At first, Ms. Cobb considered not accepting the responsibility. She was recovering from shoulder surgery, and her knowledge of rearing babies was limited to two sons, both now in their twenties. But Jelly Bean was cute, and his options were limited, so, after many Google searches and calls for advice, Ms. Cobb began the tenuous challenge of mothering the baby opossum.
The bottle feedings seemed never-ending, and every day she could only hope that what she was doing was indeed helping and not harming the critter. And it seemed to be working. Jelly Bean was surviving, and not just surviving but thriving. Ms. Cobb had successfully raised the infant to an adult, fully capable of caring for himself. The rumors of her accomplishment began to spread, and that’s when her phone began to ring.
You could certainly understand if she had refused and had been content with the knowledge that at least one had been saved, but for Ms. Cobb, it was as if her eyes had been suddenly opened and a calling had been heard. Help was needed, and as a nurse, helping was what she was meant to do. After a bit of research and a couple of inquiries with Oklahoma’s Wildlife Department, Ms. Cobb paid the ten-dollar licensing fee and became a certified wildlife rescuer.
But this is not an easy task, and food, housing, and care prices are constantly growing. This cost Ms. Cobb covers without any additional funding. Then there’s the labor, which can be quite daunting. The work begins each morning just as the sun rises with feeding, and each animal’s requirements differ. The time is mainly spent determining which formula goes into which bottle and what grain or meat goes to which animal.
After the meal, there is the cleaning of the animals living space. But it’s the exercise time that Ms. Cobb enjoys the most, which consists of allowing the animals that are capable a chance to roam around under adult supervision. For some, like the baby skunk, it’s an opportunity to practice grubbing skills and learn about basic survival. That is the true mission of Rebecca’s Rodent Ranch: to reintroduce these tragedy survivors back into the wild with the skills they will need to make it.
Soon, she found herself winding her way through a small squad of animals in need. Her one opossum, Jelly Bean, has turned into eighteen, and next door to them are four raccoons. A little further down, you’ll find a skunk and two rabbits. All of these orphaned critters would have perished had it not been for the concerned people who took the time to make a call and Ms. Cobb’s willingness to respond.
It’s safe to say that with over one million dying on the roads of America each year and the endless encroachment of their environment, native animals need all of the help that they can get. And for Ms. Cobb, that is the true measure of success, watching tearfully as her adopted children leave for that final time and knowing that without her, they would have been gone long ago.
You Can Help
Rebecca’s Rodent Ranch is a nonprofit wildlife rescue located at:
920288 South Ridge Drive
Luther, OK 73054.
As a nonprofit, donations are always welcomed.