Today I need to talk about mice. Mice get a hard rap, but they're kinda awesome and really cute! AND amazing survivors- pretty smart little ones! To the left is a picture of M. Curieux, who I caught in 2006 and spent about a month in this mouse palace until he chewed through and escaped. And below is a picture of Chunk, so called because my very first night in the house I left out some very pricey dark chocolates, and in the morning he had run off with every single one of them, leaving he package behind.
Chunk had a broken tail, but got along just fine. He was also caught and spent all winter in this aquarium until I released him in the spring. I think he moved right back in, but I like to think that it taught him a lesson. In fact, I had a couple in the aquarium all winter, and during that time, I had no trouble with mice stealing food, and a year later I still don't- so I'm sure it taught them a lesson...well, unless I leave dark chocolates out- like the dark Hershey's kisses a few months ago- in which case they are all gone by the next morning! But can you really blame them??!
I know that I have quite a population living in my house, but they really don't bother me, and it's rather amusing to find their stores of bird food in random places in the house. The other night I was kept up all night by the strangest and kinda scarey noise. I didn't get up to check it out as I was tired, it was downstairs, and it was kind of spooky! The next monring I was making breakfast and heard it again, coming from an almost empty bag of squirrel food in the kitchen. This is what I found (below). He had been jumping against the side of the bag all night trying to get out. Bless his little heart! I took him out and he promptly ran across the kitchen and disappeared into some place that only the mice know about. He was pretty darned cute and very soft and silky. He has a laceration behind his ear, but it looked all healed up. It is not unusual for wildlife rehabbers to rehab mice and to end up with twice as many as when they started! All of these mice so far are Deer mice.
Now for a strange mouse tail... several weeks ago, when I arrived back from NYC, I sadly found a little baby mouse who had gotten in my bathtub and couldn't get out. He ended up dying there. He was very small. I don't think that he was a deer mouse- he was very gray and had no brown to his coat at all. I was about to go bury him outdoors, but I thought I would try an experiment. Many animals will remove their dead. Some canabilize them, others just remove them and put them somewhere else. I thought that especially because this mouse was so little, he might have a mother out there, or something like that. So I placed him in an area where I know mice come and go, right near a mouse hole.
Well, the next day he was gone! He had been taken away. I assumed that he had been taken and eaten. But the really strange thing was that there were so many little mice footprints all around hte back of my house, which I had never seen before. So, my parsimonious theory is, of course, that there was a mouse burial. See, this kind of cleaver thinking got me into 2 top grad schools! But you know, maybe there really was! Has anyone really robustly studied wild US mice in the wild??