Three baby beavers born last week by Caesarean section on the side of a road near Modesto are being cared for by the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, an animal rehabilitation center off Elks Club Drive.
The beavers each weigh about a pound, not a premature weight, and are being fed a fatty milk formula. The animals will remain at the wildlife care center through September or October, long enough for them to fend for themselves once they are released to the wild.
"Someone saw a beaver on the side of the road having a baby, hemorrhaging, and it died in the birth canal" said Cheryl Millham, executive director of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care. "The woman opened the mama up - a pretty gutsy lady. I have no idea who she is."
Millham didn't know any other details of the story. She speculated that the mother beaver may have been hit by a car because beavers usually give birth inside their lodge.
On Wednesday, the day after the Caesarean section, volunteers transported the animals from a wildlife care center in the Modesto area to South Shore so that Millham could raise them. In the 28 years Millham has cared for orphaned and injured animals, about 10 beavers have come her way. Some of them have been young, but never this young.
"We usually don't get them till they're about 2 months old," Millham said. "Their parents are killed, and the babies come out looking for help."
The baby beavers at the wildlife care center can't be labeled male or female because their sex organs are internal. They will be nursed for about eight weeks, then grasses and branches of tender trees will be introduced to their vegetarian diet.
The animals' first dips in a bathtub will happen in about a month. Before then, they're too buoyant for swimming, Millham said. Where and when they will be released to the wild is yet to be determined.
"They have to be handled right," Millham said. "We're going to raise them and find out if there is a good place to let them go."
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care only allows the public to view its animals once a year at its open house held the last Sunday in July. This year, that date is July 31.
n Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com