Saturday, October 18, 2008

A mouse's life

This morning as I came downstairs for breakfast, I was confronted by an adult house. The poor animal lay prostrate on the kitchen floor, having been badly mauled by my two cats. Though I could make out no obvious external injuries, she appeared unconscious, taking in weak, gulping breaths at two-second intervals — very, very slow for a mouse. As I carried her outside I cursed my cats for their cruel indifference to the suffering of another, and wondered if they had been perusing the daily paper, filled as it is with news of similar cruelty among humans.

Mice are not infrequent visitors to our abode, especially in the autumn as the weather cools. In the previous fortnight I had discovered the grisly remains of another mouse, and rescued a third, half-grown mouse unhurt as our two cats toyed with it in the living room.

I spent several minutes trying to revive this latest victim, but her body remained slack so I euthanized her and placed her in the woods behind my house. Back inside, I quietly reproached my cats again, as I served them their “proper” breakfast, which ironically may be a poor nutritional substitute for what I had just taken outside.

I have to wonder why mice venture into my home when they must know — given their superb sense of smell — that it is prowled by cats. Just earlier that day I had learned of the tenacity with which a mouse will return for a free lunch. The manager of a sanctuary for rescued farmed animals at which I volunteer from time to time, told me of a house mouse they had caught recently in their home. They took the live-trap to the pig barn, gave the mouse some food, then released him. The very next evening, the same mouse was recaptured in their house. They recognized him because his front left foot is snow-white. For the next three mornings “white-foot” reappeared, almost mystically, in the Have-a-Hart trap, having traversed some 100 meters of mostly open pasture from the barn to their home. By this time he was rearing up on his hind-legs in anticipation of his daily snack. They eventually let him go next to a rill, a mile away.

Mice seem as inexorable as sunrises. As long as there are kitchens, and housecats, there will surely be mice. I am fairly certain that, should the day come when the Earth is no longer inhabited by humans, the tiny feet of mice will continue to scamper across the landscape.

1 Comments:

At January 8, 2009 at 11:07 AM , Blogger Aluwings said...

We've historically been visited each fall by at least one field mouse seeking warmer climes for the winter. I too discovered how tenaciously the same mouse will return to it's new "winter home." So then I face the dilemma of finding a place to relocate it that will not just doom it to a longer cold death from starvation and cold.

My current solution is a bushy area on a local fair ground that is adjacent to stables and a barn with lots of grain spilled around. I hope that works out for him/her.

 

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