Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Mouse Tale

 
 

 
 






 
     I told Sweetface, "I think we have a mouse in the basement!" It had recently turned bitter cold January weather, so it was no surprise that a mouse had found an escape into the warmth of our home, leaving a tell-tale clump of insulation on the basement floor which it had knocked loose from the top of the foundation. I wondered what to do. I only knew there was no way I was going to put out a trap only to come down and find a squashed dead mouse in it the next day. And, worse yet, no way I would ever again catch a mouse in one of those gluey-sticky baits. I had done that only once, and was horrified to discover a tiny brown creature stuck onto the tape, looking pitifully up at me with his large, frightened eyes! I put on gloves and did my best to pull him slowly and gently off the tape and release him in the back yard. It was a gruesome thing, knowing I must have caused him a lot of pain. I have never gotten that memory out of my brain, and wasn't about to repeat it.
     So, what to do? I got online and ordered a tiny, mouse-sized "Hav-A-Heart" trap. It arrived the next day on the front porch. I put a handful of mixed nuts inside and set it stealthily on a shelf in the basement and waited. The next morning I went downstairs to find that my nuts had turned into a tiny brown mouse! It sat, fat and happy, inside. Delighted, I took it right upstairs to my car. Soon I was driving down the road searching for an appropriate field that might be a good home for a wayward mouse. 
     But the farther I drove the more concerned I became. I could not find a single place that looked like a mouse could survive there. There was nothing that looked like food anywhere in that brown, barren terrain. And worst of all, it was COLD outside--really cold! Grey skies frowned down on the whole idea as I was overcome with a sense of guilt at the thought of dumping this warm little lump of fur out into such a hostile environment.
     A thought came to mind. Maybe they would have some kind of temporary little mouse habitat at the local thrift shop? Just to keep the mouse until the weather warmed up a bit? I turned the car around and headed there instead. And wouldn't you know it, there was a large glass aquarium sitting on the shelf, just waiting for me to find it! "It just came in," said the store clerk, smiling at my good fortune. Not only was it plenty big enough for a tiny mouse, but it came filled with delightful things like food dishes, a wooden climbing bridge, a tiny igloo shaped hut in which to live, and even a tiny plastic palm tree.  And all that for only $15.00!
     Later I saw that at Petco the same aquarium--empty--was priced at $189.99. I discovered that on my stop on the way home to buy whatever else a mouse might need. Such as a bag of "Gourmet Mouse Seeds, Hawaiian Flavors", a plastic assemble-it-yourself "Playhouse Village", and a bag of shredded papers for the floor bedding. About $35.00 later I was back in the car, happily heading home with my new finds.
     Later that evening, Sweetface came home to find a new inhabitant in our kitchen. "His name is Mickey," I announced. "That has to be the luckiest mouse in the world," he said. "While other mice are freezing their tails off this little guy is living on Paradise Island, palm tree and all."  I soon had him busily assembling the plastic play village on the kitchen table.
     Later that night another insight crossed my mind. "Where there is one mouse, there are probably more." Oh, dear.  I sat the trap again.  Next morning the nuts-turned-mouse miracle had happened again.  Soon Mickey was joined by "Minnie."  They were adorable together! Whenever you would peer inside their little hut door you could see their tiny black eyes peering back at you as they sat snuggled up side by side. I dropped a large clump of the soft white paper shredding material inside for them, and the next morning I found that they had worked hard all night to arrange it exactly where they wanted it, all around the floor of the aquarium, and piled up high in front of their hut door so they had perfect privacy. They had enough shreddings that they could tunnel all around underneath it, coming out only to eat and climb on their exotic play things. 
     Soon we had settled into a nice routine.  The mice only came out as the sun was setting, and they were busy all night long. A friend donated a little metal hamster wheel, and you could hear it squeaking loudly in the dark early morning hours.  The curious cats enjoyed laying on the floor and watching their little mouse antics, longing to get inside for a closer encounter, but thwarted by the screened top. Every night after cleaning up our dinner dishes I would put a new treat inside for the mice to enjoy--a piece of fruit or bit of vegetable--only to find it had disappeared by the next morning into the secrecy of their underground tunnels below the paper wadding.
     Then one evening Sweetface made the comment, "I think I saw more than two mice in the aquarium." The inevitable had happened in the romantic little Paradise Island Resort hut. We still saw Mickey and Minnie sitting happily, side by side, on top of the largest plastic palm tree leaf in the evenings. But now and then we saw a faintly unfamiliar furry face.  And the exotic Hawiian flavored gourmet seeds were disappearing at a much quicker rate.  As spring finally thawed I knew it was time to release our little friends, however many there might now be!
     After the last threat of a cold freeze passed I carefully removed all the little toys, sadly, from the aquarium and loaded it into the back of my car.  I found a hedge alongside a little stream near the entrance to our subdivision where the ground had a nice layer of fallen leaves under which a mouse family might find a good place to hide. I carried the aquarium to the edge of the bramble, removed the screen from the top, and gently turned the contents onto the ground.
     They all scattered so fast it was hard to count! But I was sure I saw at least five or six grown mice, not to mention many more tiny, blind babies! I only managed to capture a snapshot with my phone of one tiny Mommy mouse simply because she had too many babies clinging to her to make a fast get-away.  She looked up at me pleadingly, hoping I would not grab her like a fox or an owl. I lifted her and her babies and sat them in the leafy undergrowth. 
     "Goodbye, Mickey and Minnie! Have a happy life!" Whenever I drive by now I wonder how they are doing. I even wonder if they will find their way back into our basement next year.
     I kind of hope they do.
    
     
 


9 comments:

  1. You have such a kind heart! Wonderful story.

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    1. Thanks, but I do love helpless little animals. (Big scary ones, not so much.)

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  2. Awww! How cute! We used a hav-a-hart trap to catch baby groundhogs that were living under our shed back in PA. I agree that glue traps are pretty gruesome but they're great for catching bugs in Alabama. Unfortunately we found a small lizard in one of ours and after that we got rid of them.

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    1. Oh, I mever would have thought about lizards, either! So nice that you got rid of it.

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  3. So cute these mice are. And so sweet you are. I know some people hate mice (my Mom screams when she sees them). She doesn't yet know that we've acquired 2 gerbils and 2 hamsters since her last visit. LOL

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    1. Oh, dear--this could be very interesting the next time she visits. Keep the video camera on hand!

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  4. What a sweet story, Linda. And a testament to your big hearted kindness. They were very lucky mice to have picked your house as their new residence!

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    1. The cats were kept very entertained, and miss them very much. I may have to go buy a mouse or two (hopefully the same sex!)

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  5. I have to print this out to show my husband I am not the only one. :)
    We recently lost our beloved (and then loved some more)cat and since then, I have/had been fostering the winter mice from my business. Granted our "paradise" isn't as nearly as grand as yours.

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