A yellow-bellied marmot is recuperating at a Minnesota animal rehab facility after taking a long, dangerous and unlikely journey across half the country.
On Friday, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC) shared a Facebook post documenting their efforts to treat the rodent, which crawled into the wheel well of vehicle in Silverton, Colorado, and "tenaciously clung" to the undercarriage for 1,250 miles:
"That, my friends, is perseverance," wrote WRC. However, the animal suffered significant injuries as a result of its harrowing ride.
"She's emaciated from five days without food or water (amazing she was strong enough to cling to the car), has some burns and abscesses on her, and oddly has a mild case of lead toxicity," WRC said.
The rodent is currently in critical care being treated for her wounds.
As WRC notes, it's a bit of a mystery how she ended up in an undercarriage, but it's suspected she "climbed into the vehicle while it was parked at a trailhead" in Colorado, possibly to seek shelter after "a tangle with some other animal."
Once the marmot's condition is stable, WRC plans to transfer her to another wildlife hospital, with the ultimate goal being her release "back to her home territory."
The rehabilitation center called it a "once-in-a-lifetime" case.
Yellow-bellied marmots are large ground squirrels that go by several different names, such as woodchuck, groundhog or whistle pig.
And the one currently rehabilitating at WRC is way out of its territory. As the Washington NatureMapping program notes, the animals are indigenous to southwestern Canada throughout the western United States, including the rockies and Sierra Nevada mountains.