Saturday, December 31, 2005

Victorian Rat Tale

I discovered a website that showcases a little-known story written in the Victorian age about a rat.

You can read a summary of the story here, as well as see more wonderful illustrations from the book...

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Rattie Christmas!

Beatrice says a belated Merry Christmas...she wasn't so sure about this stocking business, and kept us busy shooting her in various stages of escape!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Feast Fit for a Mouse

"...We baked hooks into sugar cookies cut into the shape of stars and then frosted them yellow. We chose candy canes over foil tinsel and when it was done we stepped back and breathed in our Little House on the Prairie triumph. As did the mice. By the next morning the lower branches were stripped of snacks, and the day after that the tree was clean up to knee level. I dreamed of star-shaped cookies scampering across the living room as if propelled along on their own tiny feet. They rounded the corner into the laundry room and disappeared under the drier. Mouse H.Q. Mice shinnied up the trunk and took away the popcorn and the cranberries piece by piece, and though they could not lift the candy canes from their branches, they could stand on their back legs and nibble the lower ones until their collective mouse breath was pepperminty fresh. In the end, we stripped off what they left behind, the candy canes and bare strings and gnawed wire hooks, and had a naked tree that Christmas. We all thought it looked very natural."
From Christmas Past by Ann Patchett

Friday, December 23, 2005

"Wanna Play?"


Wee Little Friends

Nothing brings joy to my heart like having my little friends crawl all over me!

Poor Quimby the Brave is covered by 2 tails of her sisters...! Meanwhile, the chubby brown mouse (aka "Curly") stares into the camera and says to the world, "Hello, there!"

Lady Regina

Regina is a lady. Sometimes she lets her hair down and gets silly. But most of the time, she's very lady-like. Whereas her sister Beatrice will chomp treats, Regina will nibble delicately and savor them.

Here Regina looks up from a repose, looking very regal. "I am a pretty rat, and I know it..." her face seems to say. I quite agree, Lady Regina.


Quimby's right eye has some clouding - not sure if that indicates glacouma or a cataract - but it's definitely not a good sign. Thankfully her other eye appears to be fine, and she is getting around OK.

I empathize with Quimby. Since turning 40 things are falling apart on me, too. Bifocals, here we come!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Fewer mice, newer arrangement

As the mouse population changes, so does the habitat. The design still keeps in mind older or weaker mice as well as making things interesting.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Routine Rodent

Lately I have been attempting to make a morning routine with the mice, where I take them out for a cuddle while one of them gets a turn at running around in the adventure ball. I will also take the hamster out for a cuddle and a brushdown and a run if he is willing. By then the rats are so desparate they are pleading for attention...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Peek Part II

Beatrice peeking out of one of the tissue boxes.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pretty Boy Hamster

Humphrey will not admit to enjoying his daily brushing.

And then there were four...

Pudding was not well this morning. I could tell she was weaker, more tired and sad looking. When I picked her up she did not fuss as much as she would usually fuss, especially when I cleaned her eye. I cleaned her and let her rest in my hand for a while before putting her back in her nesting area. Pudding appeared to perk up a little as I watched her poke around, picking up a nibble of bread crumb or yogurt bits before she settled into a spot by the food dish.

I gathered my things to go do some errands. But before leaving I had to check on Pudding one more time. She was sleeping next to the the food dish in a crouching pose, her nose poking into the bedding and her breathing appeared to be regular.

I returned a sort time later. I looked in on Pudding and found her collapsed where she had been sleeping. She had not been gone too long. I was sad but I was more saddened that she had been alone, as that she had been with her babies when they had died. I took Pudding and laid her out on her burial cloth and gave her some treats for her trip home.

I then took out the remaining four. After checking each of them I let them take turns running in the adventure/explorer ball. I noticed that when I put the remaining four back in the habitat the youngest mouse ran down to where Momma Mouse Pudding would have been. She sniffed around and looked confused. I had removed Pudding's "sleeping bag" and removed the bedding around where I had found Pudding. So I suspect the little mouse had noticed Pudding was gone.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

strike a pose

Little Lord Fuzzy Butt Humphrey strikes a pose.

Friday, November 25, 2005

cuddle mouse

Pudding letting me take her picture while she gives me a cuddle.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I looked in on Pudding to find her on one of her adventurous trips up the tubes to the petting zone when I saw what appeared to be two of her girls attacking her as she tried to enter the petting zone. Perhaps the girls were only trying to get out of the petting zone and were merely pushing Pudding out of the way. But I saw one of the mice turn around and take a nip at Pudding. Maybe the older girls are just making it clear that the zone is their place? I opened up a section of the tube and rescued Pudding but I could not find any noticeable injury.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Small in Size Only

Wonderful things come in small packages.

It's those moments when we're "surprised by joy", that makes life the amazing experience it is.

With the joy comes the pain, which only makes it sweeter because we know we only have so much time.

My Christopher loved Mabel, and Mabel loved Christopher; and their love was something to behold. This week, another gentle giant of a man lost a small friend, and had these poignant words to say...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Pudding keeps on trucking...

Pudding seems to be coming back into the game. She has twice gone all the way up to the hightest petting zone and even comes to greet me when I open her cage. Her eye appears to be slightly better and she seems to be able to clean it better without my help.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


I guess it was inevitable. First there was Friendster. Now there is HAMSTERer.

This is Humphrey's "profile" on HAMSTERer. We've met several other neat hamsters and their humans through it. It's silly, but fun...

Pudding is determined

Pudding has been slipping away from us. She has lost the use of one eye and is getting weaker everyday. Yet she is determined.

Today I watched as Mamma Mouse Pudding, who has been staying in the lower level cage where there is a heating pad, crawl out of her usual place and up through the tubes to the highest point of the mouse city. She has not been this determined to climb outside the safety and familiarity of her space since Dixie Mouse died and I watched as she carefully pulled herself along the twists and angles of the tubes. There were a few scary points (for me) when it looked as if Pudding was about to stumble down or fall into a steeper tube. But other than snagging her foot on loose bedding Pudding managed to make it all the way to the top. Pudding crawled into the upper petting zone sitting on the top most section of the mouse city, pulling herself through the bedding and eventually tucking herself in ontop. I watched for a while as she curled up and took a nap and after a few moments I carefully took her out and cleaned her eye. I put her back down in the heating cage and after chewing on some yogurt bits and bread crumbs and drinking some water, Pudding tucked in underneath her "adventure bag" and went back to sleep.

Fear-controlling gene identified in mice

Fear-controlling gene identified in mice
US scientists turned normally cautious mice into daredevils by switching off a gene which regulates fear, in research that could lead to treatments for anxiety disorders, according to a new report.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Aggie and her best friend

Aggie the Budgie visiting with her Best Friend...


Regina peeking out of one of her favorite sleeping places.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Just remembering a mouse

This was Mabel, looking in on the first litter. Mabel was a "good father" mouse. Just before we had to remove him to his own cage so that there would not be another litter I found him straddled over the pups keeping them warm and cleaning them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A lonely mother

I am starting to suspect Mamma Mouse Pudding has given up on life. Perhaps she is grieving over the loss of Dixie. But I fear with her own health and age issues Pudding is slipping away more rapidly.

And then the morning came

And then the morning came. I took the mice out, snuggling each one as I put them in the temporary cage. I opened the cage where I found little Dixie, partially covered up, and gently removed her and put her down. I could see she had died sitting up and appeared to have been trying to eat a nibble of a yogurt drop. After preparing her burial cloth I took Dixie out to where the rest of her family is and placed her near her sister Pixie.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sometime in the morning...

I have been observing the decline in the older and younger mice. Momma Mouse Pudding, the oldest mouse and the mother of all the remaining mice has mostly one eye (literally) and is thinning down. Pudding is still very much her own mouse and will chatter at me if I bug her too much but she will also come to my hand and snuggle right in. Dixie Mouse has also lost an eye and is showing the signs of cancer. Dixie is still motivated to eat and drink but not as much as she should. Dixie will also snuggle with me, even when I am trying to give her palliative treatments. Dixie does not cry out and does not appear to be suffering greatly.

I spend part of mornings and evenings holding these two mice together and separately. There was a time when Pudding would not settle in unless there was another mouse with her. But now Pudding wants all the snuggle to herself. Dixie immediately tucks herself in and will sleep for some time until she get excited and wants to be put back so that she can eat or go to the bathroom. Dixie has been such a good little trooper, much like her father Mabel Mouse was when he was in his decline.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quimby in the Spotlight...

Quimby got two honors this past month - her image was chosen to grace the front page of a mouse group, and she won a photo contest. Way to go, Quimby!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Singing Mice

I can testify to this with some of my boy mice and girl mice. And that the budgie, Agatha, has had conversations with mice. In fact one time I was holding Pudding and Dixie and they were almost sleeping when Agatha let loose with a tirade of clicks and chirps. Both mice sat up and chattered right back at Agatha...

"The Public Library of Science has a research article on how male mice actually sing in the presence of females. They actually posted some of the audios adjusted for human ears as these songs are ultrasonic. The authors are comparing these warbles to bird songs. The songs are quite complex so do the mice learn them and/or improve on them? This can be a potential model for investigating how brain chemistry works during learning."

More links:
Study: Mice Sing in the Presence of Mates
Researchers add mice to list of creatures that sing in the presence of mates

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - Homeward Bound

Alas, the day has come for Rattie to leave us. We have so enjoyed having him here as our guest!

But Rattie is VERY excited to be going home. In celebration of his time here, we gave him some going away presents - some new sneakers, a backpack, and his own little teddy bear. He especially like his teddy, which will keep him company on the long trip home...

Have a safe trip, Rattie!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - DAY TWELVE

Karen my friend shows off Rattie's badgeToday was another long day for Rattie.

We arrived at Valleycon shortly after 10:00am to stand in line and register. As you can see here, Rattie is cunningly in costumer as a 'nerd' with his glasses!

HELP!We toured the sellers room to see what there was for sale - things you don't need, but must have! Along the say, we encountered many people in costume. Some were fun ones, but others were pretty scarey. Here, Rattie has a close call with Leatherneck!

Is he done yet?Here, Rattie is getting a little bored. We're waiting for see Kevin Sorbo! Kevin is originally from Minnesota, and attended college in our metro area. I'm a big fan of his, and he was fun to listen to as he answered questions and gave insider insights to his experiences.

Rattie asks to go to the bathroom!Later on we left to check out the film festival at the Fargo Theatre, part of Valleycon. We had fun watching a new low-budget independent (but well done) film of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. It was produced, written, directed, and starred Mark Redfield, from Redfield Arts Studio.

We finally headed wearily home around 6pm, a full day of silliness and fun behind us. Tomorrow Rattie will rest up, before his trip home on Monday...

The ultimate escape

Razza swam from one island to another 400m away

The ultimate escape by an island-hopping rat
By Richard Macey
October 20, 2005 - 10:19AM

Razza was the Susie Maroney of the rodent world.
A wild rat, captured and then released on a deserted New Zealand island as part of an experiment, he amazed scientists by taking to the sea to escape.
No one knows why, but Razza swam 400 metres through treacherous open water to reach another island.
His feat, loosely billed as a record, has also alarmed the scientists, who say it shows that coastal islands cleared of rats can easily be reoccupied. Mick Clout, Professor of Conservation Ecology at the University of Auckland, said yesterday Razza was taken to Motuhoropapa, a flyspot east of Auckland, for a study on how a rat behaves when alone on an island.
"We assume most rat invasions begin with one or two rats coming ashore, probably from ships," Professor Clout said.
Researchers wanted to know how hard it would be to spot a single invader, and how difficult it would be to capture.
Razza had a small radio transmitter attached and was set free on the island. Scientists intended to recapture him within eight weeks, but Razza gave a new meaning to "rat cunning".
He avoided all the scientists' traps, and after 10 weeks his radio signal failed. "It would be fair to say that at that point we were worried," Professor Clout said. The Conservation Department was also worried, as the island had been cleared of rats.
Two weeks after the transmitter failed a woman reported finding rat droppings on Otata, a rat-free island 400 metres from Motuhoropapa. DNA tests confirmed they were Razza's.
"To our knowledge this is the first record of a rat swimming across open sea, and it's often quite rough water," Professor Clout said. "We assume he did it deliberately, but who knows what was in his mind?"
He speculated that Razza may have wanted female company.
A trap on Otata finally ended Razza's four months of freedom, and his life. His adventures are detailed in today's Nature.

Experiment ends in wild rat chase

Scientists got more than they bargained for when they released a single rat named Razza in an experiment into why rats are so hard to eradicate.
Razza avoided traps, escaped dogs, and ultimately swam a record distance from one uninhabited island to another.
Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand had problems catching him even though they had fitted him with a radio transmitter.
He was finally killed by a trap 18 weeks after the experiment began.
The researchers released Razza to study "the problem of rats reinvading islands that have been cleared", author Mick Clout told the Associated Press news agency.
The research was reported in the scientific journal Nature.
Let loose on the uninhabited New Zealand island of Motuhoropapa, Razza ran free for 10 weeks before swimming 400m (1300ft) to a nearby island which was also deserted.
It is thought to be the longest swim across open water ever recorded for a rat.
Just lucky?
It then took the scientists another eight weeks to find and catch him once he arrived on Otata island.
"We were literally tearing our hair out at times trying to find this animal," Mr Clout said.
He said it was fortunate they had used a lone male rat in the experiment.
"If this had been a pregnant female rat it would have been a problem. It takes only one to establish a population."
Scientists have released a new male rat in a follow-up experiment to see if Razza was unusually clever or lucky.
"We want to check whether this was normal behaviour," Mr Clout said.

Cunning rat outsmarts scientists
Rodent eludes capture for 4 months
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A rat released on a deserted island off New Zealand outsmarted scientists and evaded traps, baits and sniffer dogs before being captured four months later on a neighboring island, researchers have said.
Scientists from the University of Auckland in New Zealand released the Norway rat on the 23.5-acre island of Motuhoropapa to find out why rats are so difficult to eradicate.
They got more than they bargained for.
"Our findings confirm that eliminating a single invading rat is disproportionately difficult," James Russell and his colleagues said in a report in the science journal Nature.
Despite all their efforts, including fitting the rat with a radio collar, they couldn't catch the crafty creature.
After 10 weeks on the island the rodent decided it had had enough. It swam 400 meters, the longest distance recorded for a rat across open sea, to another rat-free island where it was eventually captured in a trap baited with penguin meat several weeks later.
The Norway rat, which is also called the brown or sewer rat, is a husky rodent that weighs about 11 ounces and has a long tail.
Invading rats on remote islands off the coast of New Zealand have been a recurring problem. Norway rats have invaded the uninhabited Noises Islands at least six times between 1981 and 2002.
"Our results may help in the design of conservation strategies to keep islands free of invasive rodents," Russell and team added.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rattie goes to ValleyCon 31 - PREVIEW

Ahhhhh....Breathe in that fresh, crisp fall air! Yep, it's October, and autumn is in full swing here in North Dakota. And that can only mean one thing...VALLEYCON! As an old geek/nerd, I have been attending the fest for over half of its existence (it's the 31st year, this year...)

What does this have to do with Rattie? Well, for his final weekend visiting us, I thought it would be a lot of fun to take him with me and my friend Karen and I attend the convention. We'll show him around, introduce him to people, and take photos.

Today, I tried to convince my night-working boyfriend Christopher to take him to Bonanzaville to show him a fun time, but I think they ended up taking a nap together on the couch. Men!!

Stay tuned...there will be a report this weekend from the convention!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - Area Icons

This week, Rattie visited some area icons, including the Fargo Theatre.

He also crossed the new Main Avenue bridge, and had his picture taken at the central prominade, as seen in the picture above, on the right...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - DAY FOUR

Tonight, for a special treat, we had a bedtime story. We read "The Mouse & His Child", by Russell Hoban...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rattie's Adventures in Fargo - DAY ONE

Today we decided to show Rattie some highlights of Fargo/Moorhead.

Here we see Rattie (where IS Rattie - can you spot him?) by the brand new Main Avenue bridge that connects Fargo and Moorhead, and goes over the Red River of the North.

Rattie bumped into Stuart Mouse, and they decided to hang out for awhile.

In the background, you can see a small part of the Red River. It's a very important part of our local culture.

Next, we went over to Viking Park, to visit the Hjemkmost Center.

Rattie poses here climbing a tree in front of the Stave church.

These are the magnificant hand-carved doors of the Stave itself; it is an exact replica of the Hopperstad Stave in Norway, built by a local craftsman who also did all the hand-carvings and paintings in the interior.

When all the sight-seeing was done, we all retired to the local coffee shop for a well-deserved libation.

Until tomorrow...

...Sweet Dreams, Rattie!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"I Am Not An Animal!"

This week, the Sundance Channel will be premiering a BBC comedy called I Am Not An Animal. I haven't seen an episode yet, but it promises* to be a satirical look at both sides of the lab animal issue. I think it's worth a look...

The show has an official website here.

* Link includes video clips of the show, which includes a mouse character named Claire...


This is obviously not a picture of a mouse, or rat, or a hamster. But it is cute, you must admit.

OK, I'm a bit biased. This is one of my three grandsons. His name is Mu'min. His new kitty is named Blade. Eva (my daughter) told me that Meran* (my son-in-law, and Mu'min's father), named him that after seeing the vampire movie Blade. I still have to get Meran to explain to me what it is about the cat that makes him relate to vampires. Maybe it's those eyes?!

* Despite what the link says about Meran, he is home now. He got home in May, after two years working Iraq. His plans are in the air a bit, but he's scouting for business opportunities; in the meantime he's dabbling in some business with relatives...

"...a creature of great personal valour"

For the Mouse (Mus) prevails in the Latin.
For Edi-mus, bibi-mus, vivi-mus -- ore-mus.
For the Mouse is a creature of great personal valour.
For -- this is a true case --
Cat takes female mouse from the company of male --
male mouse will not depart,
but stands threatening and daring.
For this is as much as to challenge,
if you will let her go, I will engage you*,
as prodigious a creature as you are.
For the Mouse is of an hospitable disposition.

--- Christopher Smart, from Jubilate Agno

* I can vouch for this personally having observed mice standing up to my cat when he hunted, several times. This, I must make clear, was years ago, I was a child, and my cat lived in a rural setting. This was just how it was. He and I were friends, and I tagged along sometimes when he hunted. I did not interfere...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

New(er) Mouse City

Mouse City goes through some modifications as the population changes.

Consideration is still made for the the older or more fragile mice. There is food, water and a wheel in each section. And the angle of the tubes are not so severe.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rat Reform

I dunno about this campaign to reform the public image of rats. I say we just need to educate people more about them.

I enjoyed the PSAs they had made; they made me think and they made me laugh, a good combination. I enjoyed the 'Archer Dash' game, and the site has many little surprises that were fun to discover.

But the name they want to replace 'rat' with - 'great pointed archer' - what's up with that?? I did a bit of research and so far can't find any reason to use that term. Rat sounds fine with me. I'm stickin' with it!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Whisker Nibbler

August 15, 2004 to September 26, 2005

She was the only mouse that ever had whiskers in the girls' cage.

The name we gave her was Pixie, but her secret name was Whisker Nibbler.

She will be missed...

The Good Mother

I noticed Pixie, the slighter larger mouse of the twins, Pixie and Dixie, had been sluggish the last two days. When I did today's cleaning I noticed she was ever more sluggish, leaning to one side and that her tail was kinked at the end. Pixie was also making a heart-breaking chirp/chatter/squeak/crying sound. I took her out and held while trying to figure out what was wrong with her. I noticed one eye was slightly bugged out and that she appeared to have trouble moving the paws and legs on one side and that she was breathing hard. Perhaps she had suffered a stoke? I took out her sister Dixie and held them both together. Little sister snuggled with big sister and after trying to get Pixie to eat and drink I put her back in with her siblings and mother, making sure to watch out for any aggressive behaviors from the others or any worsening of Pixie's condition. Pixie moved around the cages, poking in and out of the usual places until she settled in the bottom cage under the wheel. I could hear her squeak and chatter once in a while if any other mice came near her. I spent most of the day looking in on her.

I looked in and found Mamma Mouse Pudding snuggled against Pixie, looking as if they were doing their usual snooze. I looked closer and saw Pixie's eyes were fixed and starting to mist over. I tried to reach in and to check Pixie but Pudding would move in front of me as if guarding her little girl. I sat back and let Pudding snuggle one last time with Pixie. Eventually Pudding gave Pixie a final preening and then moved to another part of the cage. Trish came home and we brought Pixie to be with her father, Mabel Mouse, her Auntie Belle and her sisters Lena The Brave and Little Brown Mouse Harriet.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hampster Adventure

Setting out on tonight's adventure.

"You call this a treat?!"