When Carol Roemer heard a nighttime noise coming from her home's attached garage, she feared a raccoon had found its way in.
"We'd had a raccoon in the garage a few months earlier, so when I heard something scratching at the door, I thought we had another one," said Roemer.
"The next morning, I told my husband to open the garage door from the outside. With the door open, we didn't see anything," she said. "I took the kids to school and when I returned home, there was something sitting in the middle of our garage eating leaves off the floor."
Though Roemer knew the animal wasn't a raccoon, she had no idea what it might be.
"It looked like a combination of several animals. It was kind of shaped like a rabbit but had the bushy tail of a squirrel. It had whiskers like a mouse but hopped like a kangaroo," she said.
Working with a neighbor, Roemer tried to shoo the animal from her garage.
"I thought we had a wild animal, but when we finally got it out the back garage door, it just hopped around and came back in the front. It was like it was saying, 'You're not getting rid of me that easily,'" she said.
"It seemed smart and it seemed like it wanted to be around humans. I started wondering if it might be someone's pet," said Roemer.
She contacted her neighbor, Bonnie Wick, a volunteer with the Henry County Humane Society - Geneseo.
"When she called, she told me she had a strange animal in her garage and she didn't know what it was," said Wick. "When I got there, I recognized it as a chinchilla, but I couldn't believe it."
From the rodent family, chinchillas are natively found in South America, but have found a market in the United States as somewhat exotic pets.
"The only place I'd seen a chinchilla before was in a classroom or at a zoo, but I knew it wasn't a wild animal Carol had found," said Wick.
Roemer discovered the chinchilla in her garage on Oct. 16, yet, to date, no on has come forward to claim the animal.
"It looks very well cared for. We've tried different ways of finding an owner, we've asked around, we've contacted the area vets and the police station," said Roemer.
The animal's picture also has appeared on Facebook and volunteers at the humane society have assisted in the search for the chinchilla's owner.
The chinchilla, which is gray in color, has been named "Charlie," though humane society volunteers aren't sure if Charlie is male or female.
Page 2 of 2 - "Charlie is very sweet and doesn't mind being picked up," said Wick. "When we first got it, we gave it a lot of lettuce. It seemed very hungry."
The chinchilla was discovered on Hawthorne Court in Geneseo, which is just east of Congress Street.
"We don't think it could have traveled very far," said Roemer.
Humane society volunteers are caring for the chinchilla but hope to reunite the animal with its owner.
"We will require proof of ownership — either vet records or proof of purchase," said Wick.
Though the Henry County Humane Society - Geneseo usually only deals with cats and dogs, volunteers will look to place Charlie in an adoptive home if no owner is found.
"He's an adorable little creature. We're just so surprised that no one has come forward looking for him," said Wick.
For more information, contact the Henry County Humane Society at 944-4868.