Wednesday, December 29, 2004
On one special morning walk, I reached my hand up to my shoulder and she hopped on. Then I turned her so she faced me and lifted her upwards, into the air perhaps 6 or 8 feet. She opened her wings and gently fluttered back down to me. I caught her in my hands. She liked it. She had that "lets do it again" look all over her face. So we did it again and again. Higher and higher she went, sometimes circling two or three times before coming down to my hands. It was a wonderful experience, for both of us.This reminds me of Christopher and Agatha, our Budgie (that's her in the picture...) They've begun this game recently where during Agatha's out-of-cage playtime, Christopher has her come perch on his finger, walks across the room, then launches her into the air towards her outside cage perch. It encourages safe flight, and interaction/play between them. Speaking of safe flight, she can be rather reckless at times, trying to land on the ceiling fan...while running!
From Lucky In Love: A Pigeon Story
Monday, December 27, 2004
Lately they've been rooting around in the bedding so vigorously that the underbedding of corn cob, like little pebbles, come spewing out between the cage wires onto the floor and my countertop in the kitchen, where they live. Quite a mess, I can tell you, and I scold them with a smile on my lips, and they never take me seriously...Well, what can you do? They're so cute!
Saturday, December 25, 2004
The mouse was jumping up and down in delight when he got an email from America :) He's coming out more in the daytime now: I may be able to get some photos soon. He loves eating suet.David went on to say...
The mouse is nonchalantly filling himself with suet and almonds even as I write. But my camera has dead batteries. No doubt you will hear from him again, by and by.Well, we certainly hope so, David.
Monday, December 20, 2004
Saturday, December 18, 2004
A "magical book", the reasons it speaks to such a wide range of readers is that "...in its inventive celebration of junk it reveals the consciousness of a child. In its lyricism it suggests a young man newly in love. In its tenderness we see the father of young children. And in its dark places we meet a middle-aged man in crisis." - The New York Times Book ReviewI was delighted to discover a book today titled The Mouse and His Child.
Now, as soon as I read that title, I HAD to find out more, of course. It was an intriguing title, not because of the word 'mouse' (well, maybe a bit...!), but because it was followed by '...and his child'. THAT is what made it unique, and thus worth looking into.
Sight unseen, I have ordered a copy for myself, and my grandsons, and they are on their way to us as I write this.
I did a bit of investigating online just now, and found a few sites of fans who love his work. One site even mentions the first ever convention about this author will be this coming February. What an excellent time for me to become aware of him. And here I was cynically thinking I may have no worthy authors left to discover...
This is great news for mice and those that love them, since tumours are one of the most common health problems with mice. It's good news for their human friends, too, since this could be indicative of future treatments that might help them, too.
Once again, mice lead the way...
Friday, December 17, 2004
Thanks a lot for your mail. :)
There have been no updates since November because I'm very busy lately, having to do two jobs. Baruchito, Flan and the babies are fine... except for one male who died two weeks ago. :( We gave him to a friend of mine who apparently didn't have any experience with pets, and looks like the poor baby got a cold and died a few days later. The other four babies (two boys and two girls) are still living with us, and we'll be giving three of them to two friends in Hiroshima when we go there for new year.
We're keeping one girl. She was the smallest of the litter, but also the most friendly. She really likes to play on my hands. You can see a photo of her here (when the two females where still on the same cage)
By the way, her name is Nana. :)
The funny thing is that each of the babies has developed his own personality or habits. One of the boys, for example, cannot live without some tunnels or some narrow place to hide into. We think he's the one who's sleeping in the last item I posted on baruchito.com. He's the one on these photos:
He has a very big CritterTrail cage, but he looked sad until we put a lots of tunnels on it. He's spending most ot the time running inside the pipes and sleeping.
The other boy has a normal CritterTrail cage (like Baruchito's). He runs a lot on his wheel, but he has a very bad habit: he likes to have his toilet just next to his bed, on the second floor of the cage, and AFTER removing all the sand/wood chips that I put there. We have to clean him every day, and I'm thinking about blocking the pipe so he can't use the second floor and is forced to use some other place as toilet. If you know some way to make him do this without blocking access to his nice bedroom, please let me know. ;)
I will update the blog software as soon as I can, because something went wrong with the current one and users cannot post comments for some reason. When I do that, I'll post a lot more things about Baruchito, Flan and the babies. :)
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
We think you sound quite brave, having a fox for a friend, and to know a pigeon, and even know a cat!
You ask what we do...well, we love running in our wheels - you know how it is with all that energy! But then, there are some of us who love nothing more than a good nap and a cuddle. Especially now that it's a bit chilly outside. We're very lucky to have a nice warm house to live in.
Some of us are really industrious, making large, warm nests for all of us to cuddle up in. We notice, however, that our Humans get rather cranky after we've been kicking around the bedding and some falls on the floor. You'd think they'd thank us for sharing!
Mabel, our patriarch, has a special friendship with Christopher, his Human friend. He loves sitting in Christopher's hand for time on end, watching him type with his other hand on the computer, or just sitting in companiable silence together.
Belle is the oldest among us. She loves sitting on Trish's collar, and rooting around in her hair at the base of Trish's neck. Sometimes she crawls to the top of Trish's head to look around. She is very brave!
Pudding, the mother of us pups, requested that we ask you to tell us more about the fox. We have never seen a fox...
P.S.: Do you have a name?
helo i am the mouse"Oh, he sounds quite brave!" exclaimed Quimby.
the fox is leting me send a mesage on her computer
the kind man said there were mice in america that wanted to get mesages from me
so here i am
but i have never done this befor so i hope you get my mesage
i live in an old blackbird nest on the side of the kind ladys house and i am trying to mend it so i can be dry when it rains
but it is not cold living outside even though i am a house mouse
some mice have been talking about the weather and how it does not get so cold anymore
i think this is a good thing
i like to eat bird food but i like to eat cheese and nuts even more
i have asked the kind man to make it easier for me to get into the bird cafe because i sometimes fall down when i am trying to get in and then it is hard to climb back up the wall
what do american mice do? i have never met one
at first i thought the fox would eat me but she didn't
she is quite a nice fox but she has got a sore foot
i just saw the pigeon as it came for its breakfast
and i saw the squirels who come every day too
i didnt get much sleep last night because the nightingale was singing to loud
the kind man is teaching me english so i can have my own website and i have lerned a lot
but he says i need a bit more practice befor i can be famous
i must go now because it is geting light and there are some crows in the garden
Mabel wiggled his whiskers, thinking.
"Tell him we like to run on our wheels," Belle said.
"Speak for yourself," Pudding commented, "Personally, I'd rather sleep."
"There's nothing better than a good round of nest building, I say," said one of the little brown mice (one of three otherwise known as the Triplets of Belleville...)
Mmmm, I thought, and making messes for me to clean up off the floor...!
"Human hands make very comfortable beds," Mabel enthused, no doubt thinking of the warm kind hands of Christopher, his friend.
"I personally love the neck area myself, all that fur on their head to root around in!" Belle cheerfully opined.
"Is that all?" I asked.
"Yes, for now," Pudding said. "Oh, and ask him to tell us a bit more about this fox person..."
"Alright then," I agreed. "Let's 'get the pen and paper out', and send along your responses!"
The Mouse is sending you a message!He also sent us pictures of his friends, the OEC and the FTP, aka the One-Eyed Cat and the Famous Tooting Pigeon. I must say, for a suburb of London there sure is a lot of wild and/or stray animals around. I have a feeling that David is kind-hearted soul. I like that...
This is not a good thing for the mouse...
It has already started going to his head, causing all this commotion, and all.
He was a very weird mouse to begin with, but who knows where this could go now???
But he was - of course - only too pleased at the idea of corresponding with North American Mice, but did express slight concern over his possible inability to decipher
their odd way of speaking :)
In fact, I just saw the mouse, as I went out to offer him an almond. The almond proved too heavy and he dropped it. So I picked it up, broke it in two, gave it back to him, and he had to make two trips to his sky-house.
Last time I looked there was this year's fox cub (a.k.a: Long Tip) gazing up at him!
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
No, he's from Tooting, a suburb of London. Silly us.
Here's a peek.
Oh, the mice are excited.
I told them today that there is an English mouse that has written to us from across the Pond...
"Hello! I am the Famous Tooting Mouse! I am not a tame mouse, and I live outside.Of course, many of the mice were perplexed by this advice, since they always thought people were nice. (But then, they didn't realize not everyone was as lucky as they were and had nice humans around to wait on them hand and foot...)*
I was not always famous, but then I realised that all the food I was eating was being put out for me by a person. That was when I decided to stop being so timid, and to become bold. Soon I was getting even better food from the person, and began having my picture taken. Now I have cheese and an almond every day, to go with my wild-bird seed.
So my advice to other mice is this:
Stop being so scared! Be as bold as you can, but don't bite anybody! Soon you will be loved and cared for, and will never be hungry again.
And if you see a fox watching you, run away, but watch to see if it is a nice fox or not. There are actually some very nice foxes out there, who may not eat you just for being a mouse. And most birds are nice too. This is my advice to mice."
"We should write him back," they tell me. Indeed. What shall you say, I ask? "Mmmmm," they say.
* I must explain, however, that the FTM does have a Human Friend, a very special one. He used to run a very famous toy shop in London...
Monday, December 13, 2004
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Most countries honour their war dead, but China has erected a monument for a little thought of but altogether more cuddly martyr -- the mice, guinea pigs, rabbits and monkeys who gave their lives to science.China has decided to honor the mouse for its crucial and important role in legitimate scientific research.
At the same time, others around the world protest research of a very different kind - not for a cure for a disease, but for what appears to be profit-motivated...
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
And to think it is starting, once again, with the help of a humble rodent...
Since you mention your mice inventing games, I thought you might appreciate this story. I've posted it before, but that was a long time ago. It's about my mouse Athena.Mabel plays a little game with Christopher when Christopher opens his cage door to pick him up and cuddle with him. He will go hide, then come out like he is about to walk onto the hand, then he'll run back, peek out, etc. until he finally comes onto the hand like he's saying, "OK, I'm ready now", and sometimes even squeaks in satisfaction...or is it impatience?!
When Athena was about 6 weeks old she was very active. Many deer mice are active, but she seemed almost hyper active, even for a deer mouse. I remember watching her run on the wheel very fast climb to the top of the tank and run around upside down and just act crazy. Her cage had a house on one end and a parrot food cup on the other end with a ladder for her and her mom to climb to the cup.
She would run on the wheel, jump off while it was still spinning and run over to the house, climb the house to the screen, run upside down to the parrot food cup on the other side of the tank, drop into the cup, run down the ladder as fast as she could and back onto the wheel. After a quick run on the wheel she would do it all again. At first I thought this was just some repetitive action like a dog running in circles.
After watching for a while I started to laugh because I figured out what she was doing. She had invented a challenging gymnastic game. She had created a circuit to follow like a race course and like a race course there was a time to beat. The point was to traverse the entire course before the wheel stopped spinning. The thing that gave it away was that she would only run on the wheel long enough to get it going as fast as she could and than she would jump off with the wheel going at full speed and run the course as fast as she could. If the wheel stopped before she finished (it almost never did) she would just run a little longer on the wheel to get it turning at full speed.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Carinthia - 12/01/04 - Someone was stealing cash from a shop, but thanks to a video-camera, authorities got their man - and it was a mouse. A security camera set up inside the shop in Villach in the southwestern Austrian province of Carinthia helped the owner figure out who was making off with euro 50 bank notes from the cash register. It turned out to be a mouse looking for nesting material. The critter was caught on camera.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
She has always been somewhat timid and fragile. She has been a mother and a nurse / aunt to the litters. I have noticed she is starting to show some signs of aging and I am a little concerned with her well being, especially when it comes to her navigating the habitrail and it's tubes. And I have seen at least one younger female bullying her.
Belle and Pudding are the Matriarchs of the brood and they have spent most of their lives together. When they were put in with the females of their collective litters they seemed to drift apart. But, I have seen them snuggling together when they are not overwhelmed by their children.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Later on, as "Dusty" began his first summer and began hunting on his own, I eventually would tag along with him into the pasture outside our yard and watch him as he hunted. It was fascinating seeing how he found mice or ground squirrels, then totally FREEZE in the long grass, not a muscle or whisker moving, or an eye blinking. A false sense of security would fool the prey, and then BAM, he would shoot out towards them like a bullet out of a gun, and they almost always didn't know what hit them. Sometimes, in turn, he would get a bit cocky after he had them, and would let them down to taunt and tease them, and they would make a break for it and give him a merry chase until he caught them again (which he usually did, but not always!) Eventually, he would crunch their necks, and then proceed to eat them. While "Dusty" was indeed a domesticated cat, and even became a housecat full-time towards the end of his life, for most of his life he spent a lot of time outdoors especially in the summer, and only came in at night to have his milk and sleep in my Mom's old doll's crib in the basement (after sitting on our laps and getting spoiled and petted, of course..!) It's strange, but I never felt it odd that my cat hunted, that he was a good mouser. In fact, I was proud of it. I haven't changed my mind on that, either. It just is the way it is in nature. "Dusty" lived until he was 18, and when I remember him and all he meant to me, from waking me up in the morning by jumping on my tummy, to sleeping on me as we layed out in the sun on a warm summer's day, it just makes perfect, organic sense.
Now that I have mice as pets, I see a whole other side, of course. I see how wonderful they are as animals and individuals, too. I can more fully understand and appreciate the mice that stood up to "Dusty" and would rear up and chatter at him as they made their last stands before being killed and eaten. They may have been small, but they had dignity...
* She ended up getting caught in traps a couple of times that townspeople had set for racoons, squirrels, and beaver along the river. The last time, she was gone a long time. She finally came home limping with one hind leg nearly amputated at the lower joint. She went into the hayloft to recuperate. My Dad would check on her and she seemed to be coming along OK, the leg was healing, but eventually, she left and we never saw her again. I guess she was too weak or had an infection, and couldn't last as the winter was setting in...
Friday, November 05, 2004
Mabel, our oldest mouse, and Daddy to all the pups, lives alone. To make up for that - and to assuage our guilt for his isolation - we have given him one of the swankiest addresses in the Mouse City, a lovely two-story with a spiral staircase and a 'space' wheel. Cool!
Alas, Mabel is still a neurotic little mouse. We spoil him rotten by lavishing attention on him, holding him, playing with him, feeding him, and letting him hook our noses with his little paw claws if we get too close peering in (!), but he STILL tends to hang around the front door area like a prisoner on death row. He's SO cute, but SO guilt-inducing. So far, we have no practical solutions for other mice socializing. If anyone has suggestions, please send them along...
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
I recently went on an obsessive spending spree (totally unnecessary, but fun!) and created a mouse city. I did it so I could make an extended living/play area for my female mice so they could all interrelate instead of having living spaces in several separate cages. It's worked out well. There are 9 females, and they're having a lot of fun wandering around exploring. They definitely love the tubes!
To make this possible, we had to rearrange some of the males who had taken up temporary housing in the Big Wheel. I have 8 males*, and 4 10-gallon aquariums. I put a pair in each one. Two pairs get along well, two do not. Of the two that do not - Grant & Phil (named after the infamous Mitchell brothers from Eastenders...appropo considering!), one (Grant) got to the point of drawing blood and were temporarily separated for a day. I bought a fish breeding divider kit to divide their tank, but the sheet included was too flimsy and easily defeated. I then took the sheet to a local hardware store to use as a template and bought clear Plexiglas. It's working beautifully. They can see each other, but can't kill each other. Peace at last...knock on wood!
* I actually have 9 males, but the one male - Mabel - is the Daddy of the younger mice and lives by himself...
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Friday, October 08, 2004
This last situation with Lena was highly likely a classic respiratory infection. Time was of the essence to get Baytril into her, to give her a fighting chance. The clinic told me today they don't do emergencies per se, and it would be a minimum of two days to get in. That could be critical time in saving a mouse, in my opinion...
* I used to own horses in the 1970's. Obtaining meds for livestock was easy, from innoculations to antibiotics. When I go online now to find sources for building a basic mouse medicine chest, all the sites make it clear a prescription is required. I assume laws are either different for small animals, or the laws have changed since the 1970's. Either way, it looks like a choice between doing without, or coughing up a significant amount of money for the wee ones.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
This picture, which was the best and clearest picture taken of her, was taken the day she died.
Lena did not stand out from her siblings for the first two weeks of her life until I noticed how small she was in comparison to the other pups. She did seem to have some trouble breathing. I was so afraid she was ill or being brutalized by her larger siblings. Or even worse, she was being ignored by her birth mother, Pudding, and / or her surrogate mother, Belle. But there was no real evidence that she was mistreated, was being ignored, or was ill. She was just a runt. In fact, when I picked her up she would stick her nose up at me and make little chattering, smacking noises while sitting back on her hunches. She was actually quite sociable and appeared to be interacting with the other pups, chasing her "mommies" around the cage and seemed genuinely interested in eating "hard food", like seeds.
I decided to start augmenting her diet with "kitten formula," feeding her three times a day between .5cc and 2.0cc of the formula through a syringe. The first feeding was not very successful. Lena fussed and avoided the tube and made more of a mess than a dinner. The second time I set her up for feeding she was actually waiting for me to pick her up, chattering at me and reaching for my fingers when I leaned in to grab her. This time she took the tube between her front paws and eagerly suckled away on it with me pushing through enough formula to keep up with her demands. After she was done she would sit back, clean herself up, and then go exploring around my hand or up my arms. She would in fact be very excitied to go see the world around her and when I put her back in the cage she would make several laps around the cage, climbing up and over anything in her way, and then go back into the mouse house and snuggle down either by herself or with another mouse. Every feeding was like this, with Lena getting more and more brave and interested with the world around her.
The evening came on the last day, just three days short of her fourth week. Early that day I took the picture seen above after a rather successful feeding. Lena was full of living that day. I put her back in the cage for the day. Later when it came time for feeding all the beasts I could see her prancing around the cage, eager as usual, and even stopping to press up against the glass of the cage and seeming to look up at me. I took her out for a while, played with her and chattered with her before putting her back in the cage. This was also the night we separated the other male and female pups that were healthy and weaned from their mother and put them into separate cages. I had planned on taking a quick shower after feeding all the other beasts and then spend time with Lena's feeding before going to work. I came out of the shower, got her formula prepped and went to get Lena. I found her in the mouse house, apparently sleeping or resting and covered with some bedding as if she were cold. I first thought she may have been tired from nursing, but she was lethargic and limp. I could see that her eyes were open and that she was breathing, but her breathing pattern had changed. I picked her up, hoping she would perk up and take interest in the feeding but she would not do more than move her head slightly. I cried to Trish that there was something wrong. I looked Lena over, trying to find anything obviously wrong with her. I gently put Lena back in the mouse house, watched her for any activity and got ready to go to work. I could see that she moved herself a couple of times while I waiting to go. I went to work, fighting back sobbing or openly crying. After being at work for about a hour Trish called and said she would check on Lena. Trish said she could see that Pudding and / or Belle had been busy, covering Lena with bedding, and even appeared to be trying to block Trish from getting to Lena. Trish took Lena out, told me over the phone that Lena was cold and stiff, her eyes closed, and not responsive. Trish and I discussed what we should do with Lena, what would be a fitting way to let her go.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
It's hard to believe that Lena is gone. Just 3 hours ago, she was lively and walking all over Christopher's hand and up his arm. He delighted in her. I in turn delighted in my heart with him. It crushes a person's heart every time this happens. There is something so sweet and pure about the little creatures among us such as Lena was. So small, so short a life, it was all she knew. We tried to give her comfort.
At times like this, it makes me wonder, why can't we look at fellow human beings with as much compassion? I love animals very much, but it's harder with people. It's rather sad and damning all at once.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Lena is one of the eight pups born to Puddin' three weeks ago this past Saturday. In a few days, she will be four weeks old.
She is the one on the right in the picture above. For comparison's sake, when we took the photo this morning, we had her sister with her. As you can see, there is a very noticable difference in size. It only became apparent in the last 10 days. Before that, all the pups were growing at same rate.
From what we can tell, she is not ill, nor is she being ignored. We observe her nursing, she has started to nibble on adult food like her siblings, she explores the cage, snuggles with her Mom and siblings, etc. We began trying to supplement her with kitten formula using a feeding syringe, and she seems to enjoy the experience - both the extra little bits of food, as well as the attention. Her eyes are bright, and she seems happy. Just very small.
We're not sure why. Is she a runt? Or is there a small mouse strain/trait coming out in her? We're new to all of this. We've become rather fond of Lena, and hope all fares well...
Monday, September 27, 2004
The pups are at that fun age when their eyes have opened, their legs are beginning to work right (I meant to do that...!) and they're venturing outside the nest to investigate the entire home area in the 10-gallon acquarium Mom Puddin' and Aunty Belle and the pups all live in. We've seen some try the wheel, having to go halfway up the side before their little weight has affect and then it spins and they hang on for dear life. I get a big laugh out of it because they look like they're having the time of their life discovering all the neat stuff they can play on. Some are starting to nibble on grownup food, trying to find out what the deal is with this stuff Mom eats. We're starting to handle them more, and are beginning to know them as little individuals. Soon it will be time to name them. One name I will be handing out is Reepicheep, one of my all-time heros of literature, a very special mouse from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia...
Friday, September 24, 2004
From: Trish LewisMy second email to Dr. Hinds asked her for her opinion on the viability of a chemical/biological contraceptive for mice. Her answer is encouraging...
Sent: Friday, 24 September 2004 13:00
To: Hinds, Lyn (CSE, Gungahlin)
Subject: Mouse Contraceptive
Dear Dr. Hinds:
I have read with interest about a 'contraceptive' virus in development for mice in Australia. It begs the question, however, that couldn't this lead to the extinction of mice?
Fargo, North Dakota (USA)
Subject: RE: Mouse Contraceptive
Date: Fri, 24 Sep 2004 14:18:31 +1000
We are still in the process of developing this agent for the management of mouse plagues in Australia. However, even when we have done the research and have permission to use it in the field, we do not expect that it will be so successful that it will eradicate wild house mice here. What we want to achieve is a reduction in the impact of mice - that is, have the mouse population maintained at low numbers and certainly below a level where they are causing economic damage. The contraceptive is targeted only at the introduced house mouse, Mus domesticus, and not other Mus or other rodent species.
Dr Lyn A. Hinds
Tropical Landscapes Program
CSIRO Sustainable Sustainable Ecosystems
GPO Box 284
Canberra, ACT, 2601 AUSTRALIA
From: Trish Lewis
Sent: Friday, 24 September 2004 15:45
To: Hinds, Lyn (CSE, Gungahlin)
Subject: Possible applications
Dear Dr. Hinds:
Thank you for your reply. I have one final question...
I keep domestic mice as pets. Many pet mouse owners ask if there might be an effective mouse contraceptive developed someday so we would not have to house males separately from females. Normally that is not that big of an issue, but you might be surprised, also (maybe not) that we find that many pairs come to care for one another, get along well, and some males even make great parents to pups, but there's always that problem of another pregnancy. Neutering them is too costly for the average pet owner. An afforable chemical/biological means would be wonderful. Do you see that as a real possibility someday in the not-too-distance future? Thanks...
Fargo, North Dakota (USA)
There are a few products being developed for long-term immunocontraception of cats and dogs which could have potential for use on smaller animals if the dose was worked out. There are already steroid implants available for dogs and cats, and gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonists (which affect the hypothalamus in the brain)
are being fine tuned.
So maybe in a few years time mice and rat owners will have a choice other than expensive surgery to control the fertility of their pets
Dr Lyn A. Hinds
Tropical Landscapes Program
CSIRO Sustainable Sustainable Ecosystems
GPO Box 284
Canberra, ACT, 2601 AUSTRALIA
* The method was developed in direct response to the need to control mice overpopulation in Australia. In recent years, the traditional 7 year cycle of 'mice plagues' has been lowered to every 2-3 years, having devastating effects on agriculture...
Thursday, September 23, 2004
A member of a mouse list I belong to queried the group today about if mice purr. Another member answered, "Deer mice purr, or maybe more appropriately sing." Another member, commenting on the same thread, shared "I have read that Mice talk all the time but at a range that we can't hear. I've read there are incidents where Mice have learned something new in a laboratory in California; within hours the mice learned the same trick in China. Kind of makes you wonder about the 'Mice Drum'." Mouse Drum, eh? Makes you wonder about all that we're missing in the audio ranges we can't hear!
An unfortunate consequence of mice's extraordinary reproductive proficiency is that when you keep domesticated mice as pets, you must house males separately from females unless you want to spend a tidy sum neutering each male. To state the obvious, that is wouldn't be practical for most people, is to say the least. Many of us who own mice notice that there are deep bonds that form between pairs, and it's a shame to have to separate them, but a necessity nonetheless. We wonder, in this day and age, might not some entrepreneurial chemist come up with a mouse contraceptive that could be put in their water, or sprayed on food, or...? Not a priority with the pharmaceutical companies, I'm sure!*
Currently, there is a different angle to the 'mouse contraceptive problem' in development in Australia. The problem with that one is, if it's truly effective, it could spell extinction for mus musculus...
* But wait! There is hope...!
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Belle is mobbed by the wee ones. Belle is the backup Mommy to Puddin', the biological Mom. Belle and Puddin' have been cage mates for as long as I've known them, even in the pet shop. They get along well, with Puddin' normally the alpha female, but ever since she became a mother, she's mellowed and has welcomed the support of her friend Belle in nursing and caring for the pups. As any mother knows, it's great having a backup!
Sunday, September 12, 2004
We weren't sure if Puddin' was pregnant, fat, or ill. Christopher kept worrying it might be tumors. We did a little research and found that the most common tumors mice have don't usually manifest themselves in a manner that would be indicated by her weight gain. We palpated her tummy gently to see if we could detect the pups, but inexperienced as we are, we couldn't tell. I found out that some mice are genetically predisposed to obesity, and it can look much like we were seeing in her, on the bottom half of her body with the upper body thin. Well, it turned out it was babies, and there are now eight more little ones in the house, just like the first time! Both Puddin' and Belle are once again taking turns nursing and watching over the wee ones. They make a great team those two. That will help Puddin' not be so overburdened...
The older pups are now in their own cages. We were having a devil of a time sexing them, but thankfully, that became very apparent this week! Since there are new pups, we got the girls their own place, too. So now we have 4 mice cages/tanks, plus Agatha the budgie. It's getting to be a regular Dr. Doolittle around here!
I'm thinking if I can't find good homes for this litter, maybe I'll form a mouse circus. What a hoot that would be...!!
Friday, September 10, 2004
This may be true.
It began shortly after his littermate, Hanna, died. I was determined to spoil him rotten. Even after two more mice, females named Belle and Pudding, were brought in, I still focused my attention on Mabel. And then one day after picking him up and expecting him to do his usual fussing about, he just tucked in his paws and tail and sat in the palm of my hand, looking up at me with mousey goo-goo eyes. From then on I figured that we were buddies.
Mabel and I have a routine of sitting together in the morning, afternoon and evenings. I attend to his food needs, check to see if anything in his cage needs to be changed, and then I pick him up. Mabel will fuss a few seconds, especially if I have handled any of the other mice before him, checking out my fingers and sniffing up in my face or even touching his nose to mine if he his close enough. And then he will settle in, tucking his limbs in and letting his tail relax.
Originally when we did this he would more or less take a dump in my hand while sitting there and appear to think nothing off it. But, one time I found him trying to roll the dung off my hand with his nose. And there have been a few times when I noticed he does what I refer to as "projectile pooping." That is, he will literally set his back end off the edge of my hand and then with a quick twitch send it flying. Now I have noticed is he "really has to go" he will get all twitchy, even chirping at me, as if it were a warning. That I when put him back in his cage so he can do his duty.
Alas, the girl mouse who turned out to be a boy has had a good life so far.
To figure things out, we had to (once again) sex the mice. Thank heavens it's gotten a bit more obvious this week. Still, there were a couple of sneaky boys who had retracted their testicles within their bodies, but I quickly learned that if you held them by the base of the tail, picked them up, and held their little bums towards a warm light, they would come peaking out and viola, they confirmed themselves BOYS!
Now the question is, is Puddin' (one of the mothers) just getting really fat, really quick...or is she about to drop another litter? I think the latter. Mabel was a baaaad boy right after the first litter. I told him so tonight, and he just stared at me...!
As the week went on I begin to notice Hannah begin to falter. She would fall over when she would try to drink from the water bottle and became more and more disinterested in activity. Her fur was becoming more and more dry and un-kept looking and she was obviously becoming more and more lethargic. When she sat in my hand she would just cuddle inwardly, her eyes closed and slip off to sleep.
The morning Hannah died Trish woke me up to say there was something wrong with the mice. I looked in and found Mabel maniacally running around the cage while Hannah lay in the middle. Hannah's breathing was extremely labored and every few seconds she would have whole-body spasms. I held her in my hand, trying to hold back my own selfish sobbing and weeping while trying to get her to drink from a water bottle. Hannah eagerly lapped at the the water and appeared to come around, becoming alive and perking up a little as she tried to crawl around in my hand. I held her for a while and then put her back in the cage. Hannah crawled for a few inched, but then was seized by another whole-body spasm and fell over. I picked her up again, gently blowing on her face and rubbing her fur as I tried to get her to respond to any stimuli. Hannah's body convulsed one more time and then relaxed, her mouth dropping open and her limbs falling limp. I looked at Trish and said, "I think she is dead now."
Hannah had been around for only a week. It may be silly to be so attached to such a little thing, but, I most of the day when Hannah died I would find myself sobbing and to this day I still feel sad when I look at her pictures.
Mabel noticed Hannah was gone. The first time I took him out from the cage after Hanna died, Mabel chattered pathetically, looking all around my hand for some sign of her. Since then I take Mabel out at least twice a day, letting him sit in my hand as I gently stroke his fur and talk to him. In the beginning Mabel was not my favorite mouse, but, has become since Hannah's death one spoiled little rodent.
We were lucky with our first litter of pups. They were all born healthy and have all survived to week 3 and going strong. We have many types - body types, colors, and both genders.
So far, this is what we know:
"Scamp" - Grey long/curly hair (Male)
"Patootie" - Dark brown long/curly hair with white tipped tail (Male)
"Quimby" - Brindle colored (Female)
"Buttons" - Dark brown satin with black button eyes (Male)
"Curly" - Dark brown long/curly hair with all dark tail (Female)
"Ignatz"/"Pixie" & "Dixie" - Triplets, all cream/light tan short hairs (1 Male and 2 Females)
"Scamp" is a wheel maniac, for instance. He will run like a speed demon on that thing! He even runs and jumps onto it, grabbing the edge with his paws to get it going and then runs to the inside. He's sort of like a skateboarder mouse. He just loves that thing!
"Quimby" has proportionately lovely large ears, and is highly energetic, exploring all over. She's a hard one to catch to hold, but after you hold her in your hand for awhile, she'll calm down and let you gently pet her between her ears, just like her Daddy "Mabel", who she takes after in color as well as temperment.