Sunday, January 13, 2013

Christmas Carol

We had a bit of an odd situation over the holidays at South. Five days before Christmas, some Parks workers discovered that someone had been living in a shed owned by the city. The shed was abandoned before they found it, but four pet mice had been left behind - two males and two females.
 One of the females, sadly, had an injured eye and a frostbitten tail. She was in very poor shape, and had to be euthanized. The two males, Calvin & Hobbes, were put up for adoption and found a home together a few days ago. 
The last female was on pregnancy watch of course, and did not disappoint. On Christmas morning, the staff were greeted with this sight:
Christmas pups! The fourth mouse, Carol, had given birth to seven little ones on Christmas day. I took her home that day for foster care. Carol is an excellent mother, as you can see above. That white band on the pups' tummies is the "milk band" and it's visual evidence that they are well fed. 
Of course, it's been over two weeks now and they are much less gross-looking these days: 
We don't get mice very often at the shelter, and this is certainly my first time fostering a litter. It's interesting! 
They're  similar to hamsters, yet very different in their way. The pups are currently at the 'flea stage', an age which is definitely living up to its name. They can hop out of your hand without any warning!  As well, they seem to be much more bonded with their mother than hamster pups. I suppose this fits - mice live in colonies and Syrian hamsters are solitary. Unlike the hamsters, when these guys are old enough, they will be divided into pairs and trios, so that they are never alone.
It's also surprising what a difference a tail makes! They are still very unsteady on their feet, and as they climb over your fingers, their little tails whip back and forth to help them keep their balance. They are clever little fellows. Hamsters are lovely but pretty slow. With mice, even at this age, you can see them figuring things out and carefully learning their way through the world.
After she was so unceremoniously dumped in a city shed, I'm glad we can help Carol and her little ones, but they do present a problem. Why couldn't we get a boatload of those cute fancy mice? Eight pink-eyed whites are going to be a challenge to adopt.

For a few more days, they can keep growing and learning at my house, but by the end of this week, Carol's family will be in the Room, and hopefully on their way to homes of their own.

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