Of Mouse and Man

One evening recently I went to the bottom of my basement stairs to move some laundry when I found a baby mouse on the floor.  Now, you might wonder, as I did, why there was a baby mouse on the floor, but that was only after I wondered if he was alive.  I called Mark, who came bounding down the stairs, picked the little mouse baby up and announced that it was alive, but barely.  We took a moment to poke around the basement to see if there were any other babies and found one more lying on its side under some empty corn bags, dead.  Later, we found a mouse nest inside of an old pair of Mark’s waders.

At the time, though, there was a baby mouse to take care of.  Mark got a drop of water on his finger and watched the baby drink.  He said that she needed some milk, and that our milk wasn’t as good for it as canned milk, preferably with vitamins in it.  You’ll find it a Meijer in the baby food section, he said.

While I ran off to Meijer to pick up $15 worth of supplies for a mouse who refused to tell me what it preferred to drink, Mark gave the wee mouse a drink using a little eye dropper.  

Baby mouse getting milk off an eye dropper.
Baby mouse getting milk off an eye dropper.

 Mark also gave the mouse a Cheerio and held the little thing in his hands to keep it warm.  And unfortunately for me, he also looked for information online about baby mice, because when I returned with my bag of goodies, he shooed me back out the door to pick up KMR kitten formula, which was recommended on some web site about mice.

I returned with powdered kitten formula, added some of the powdery stuff to some water and handed the mixture to Mark.  He used a paint brush to feed the mouse because he said it was better than the eye dropper.

Mouse taking milk off a paintbrush.
Mouse taking milk off a paintbrush.

I found the little thing so cute I had to include the above photo zoomed in a bit more. 

Close-up shows a drop of milk on the little  mouse's nose.
Close-up shows a drop of milk on the little mouse’s nose.

Once the little mouse was fed, I dug out one of a half dozen empty aquariums in our garage and added a hot rock–a plastic rock-shaped gadget that you plug in to create a type of hot pad for mice and the like.  We also added some of the mouse nesting materials we found in the basement and a milk jug cap with some oatmeal mixed with kitten milk. 

Mouse with the milk cap of milk and oatmeal in the foreground.
Mouse with the milk cap in the foreground.

Mark fed the little mouse several times before he went to bed at 11 p.m., and at one point, the little mouse wobbled around inside the aquarium for a bit before disappearing inside the mouse nest.  Mark got up at 3 a.m. to feed the mouse again, and he said all signs were good that the little fella would make it.  But at 6 a.m., our little mouse pal had a faraway look in his eyes as if he wasn’t so sure about things.  We tried feeding him again but he suddenly seemed too weak.  Sadly, he died later that morning.  Mark buried him in the yard with our household pets.

While the baby mouse was fighting for its life, our last ferret, Chip, has been fighting for her life as well.  She’s seven years old, and there have been days lately that I wonder what keeps her going.  But what I realized in watching both the mouse’s brief life and Chip’s willingness to continue wobbling about even when I don’t think she can continue on is this:  what’s important in life is making the best of the time we have.  That is true with people, with mice, and with Chip.  See, we knew the odds were against the little mouse, but we did what we could to make his time as good as possible.  And for our old pal, Chip, we will continue to spoil her `til the end.


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