Rasches to the rescue, preventing chinchilla appetizer

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Humane shelters will tell you animals are abandoned all the time. Mostly though they are of the canine or feline variety. Rarely are they the chinchilla variety.

Diana Rasche and her husband Thad couldn't believe it either when they were walking their dog last week in the heart of the Frank Lloyd Wright district, the 300 block of Forest Avenue, and spotted what Diana described as a cross between a squirrel and a rabbit sitting by the Dugal's fence (aka the Nathan Moore house).

"It was mottled grey with little round ears, a little bushy tail about 1/3 the size of a squirrel's, which curls over its little behind," Diana related. "It sat up on its back legs and was very cute. I said to Thad, 'That is someone's pet, and we need to catch it.'"

Catch it they did, and soon heard reports from neighbors of two women seen walking down the street with the little critter, and asking if the neighbors wanted him. So it seems a pretty clear-cut case of chinchilla abandonment.

That was further confirmed when Diana drove to Petco in the River Forest Town Center and the staff recalled that the two women had come to them first trying to unload what by now Diana was calling "Squabbit." She bought approximately $100 worth of chinchilla supplies (they gave her a 20 percent "rescue" discount), and Squabbit took up residence on their porch.

Her teenage son went on the Internet and did some research. They come from Central and South America and like to hop around. This one eats mostly pellets, alfalfa hay, celery and fruit. And it enjoys gnawing on tree branches.

"It's definitely a male," Diana said. "I did check."

The Rasches already have a dog, two cats and an iguana, so they don't really want to become chinchilla owners, and they're hoping to spread the word to chinchilla lovers throughout the community.

Diana lets it hop around in the backyard, but keeps it on a leash. She's heard from neighbors that a red-tailed hawk is nesting in a tree near the Wright Home & Studio.

"He wouldn't last long," Diana said. "He'd be an appetizer."

Her teenage daughter used to want a rabbit, but she's too busy with teen life now, Diana said. They did name it after a rap artist, however. Diana can't remember the name, so she just calls it Squabbit.

Anyone interested in adopting Squabbit (other than the red-tailed hawk, that is) should call the Rasches at 524-2748.

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