Monday, September 12, 2011


It all started when I was 10, and for some reason for my 11th birthday desperately wanted baby mice. They had some adorable ones at the pet store, white with brown spots, and I so needed those mice. Of course other family members weren't so keen, so somehow I convinced my best friend to purchase them for me on the sly as a birthday present. It worked, the mice stayed, I mean, how could someone resist a little tiny baby mouse? I'm actually very sure my mom could have resisted forever, but over the next couple years she got so she loved Mickey within reason (Minnie died within 48 hours).

Mickey lived in my garage in a palatial mouse house that my cousin built. She however did take frequent trips upstairs to visit her inside quarters. This is where the cat found her. Rocky was a huge black and white cat, as mellow as it came, but he quickly figured out how to open the cage. I came into the room to find Rocky laying on the floor, the cage open, and Mickey sitting between Rocky's paws happy as can be and very much alive. This became a routine, Rocky would open the cage, let Mickey out, and then they'd play together, the cat happily watching the mouse run all over him. When I found them, Mickey would come running up to be picked up.

Mickey's other claim to fame was accompanying me to school. She would ride in my shirt pocket and no one was ever the wiser. Until the last day of 5th grade where I exacted revenge on my horrific 5th grade teacher by letting her come out of my pocket on my way out the door. That was an awesome moment. My 6th grade teacher loved her, and she came with me to school quite a bit that year.

Eventually Mickey died at the grand old age of 2, and I swore off mice, as they just don't live long enough.

But then, we moved to Missouri. In Missouri, we were simply overrun by mice in the garage. This was ok, until our current cat Jolson, decided to take matters into his own paws. Jolson was the anti-Rocky, and frankly strongly believed mice should be dead. But, he enjoyed killing them so much he decided to set up his own mouse farm (it's hard to be an indoor cat, without access to a field of mice). So he caught the mice in the garage, and brought them into turn them loose to colonize the house (seriously, I am not joking here). This left us with a major connundrum. The mice had to go, but we don't kill mice. The thought of using glue, or traps, or poison wasn't possible for us, so we bought live traps that I baited with peanut butter.

Over the next few months we trapped and released in a field sometihng like 35 mice. Where we would leave them with food, and well wishes. We trapped baby mice, pregnant mice, fat mice, skinny mice, brown mice, black mice. We finally got down to just one mouse in the garage, who I named Harry, after Houdini since he could get into the trap, eat the food, flip it, and leave again. When we left the house Harry was still living there.

Fast forward several years to the Frozen Tundra. We never had a mouse problem due to another cat who didn't just hunt for sport, but clearly coming from barn stock, he lined em up for the kill. Until one little baby mouse hid out in the room the cats were banned from. This guy was so brave he would come up and take crackers from my hand. Eventually I cupped him up in a box and transported him to our cat free garage where I left him with a supply of crackers and wished him well. I still rather regret not keeping him as a pet.

In any case, all of this came to mind this week when I was cleaning the garage. My personal mouse rule has stayed that if they come into the house, the cats (in theory) take care of them, if they stay in the garage it's cool. I don't keep anything out there they can't have. And yes, I know mice spread disease, I don't encourage them, I just kind of have the attitude that everyone needs to live. It's not their fault they were born a mouse. So, as I was cleaning the garage I upset a suitcase, and out popped a little brown head with bright eyes. She looked at me in shock, like 'WHO ARE YOU!?' but no fear - presumably because it's been approximately 2 mouse lifetimes since I've cleaned the garage. I looked closer and realized she had a bunch of almost weaned babies in there with her. So what did I do? I carefully, while talking to her all the time, sealed up the suitcase, and carefully transported it to a nice wooded mouselike area, where I placed it down, unzipped it and left them in peace (with a little food). I went back today and checked, there's no sign of the mouse family and so I reclaimed the suitcase for the garbage.

I may be weird, but I prefer to think of it as a good life lesson, let others live, why cause a needless death, afterall, we're all on this planet together for some reason. Of course someday remind me to tell you all about the great Rat Relay..

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