WARNING: Rodentophobes, move along. Baby mice picture coming up.
Edit: I was going to call this Penultimation because that sounded cool, but it didn’t have much to do with rodents. Oh well. At least I’ve mentioned it.
This is going to be a very, very short post. [I lied. It’s as long as all my other posts. Figures.] Because this:
Yesterday late afternoon our dogs finally managed to get into a mouse nest that one of our local critters had built within the folds of the grill-cover I had (foolishly) left lying in a heap outside on a deck chair. I had no idea it was there but I suspect the dogs have known for a few days. Ironically of course, I saw that grill cover a few days ago and thought Hrm, now that we’ve moved the grill to the front of the house and away from most of the rain and wind, I really should move that cover to the garage. As usual, thinking about it (and then not doing it) probably took longer than simply picking up the damn thing and putting it away would have done.
Oh well. Long story short, baby mice strewn all over the back patio and surrounding gravelled areas. SO and I found the nest after a bit of judicious searching in the area. Mom was not there, obviously. I have no idea if we got them all — we found 5 altogether — and we’re lucky, I suppose, that our dogs are apparently too gormless (or too aware of what a bleeding heart I am) to have done them any damage other than nosing them around on the cold concrete.
So out came the shoe box, in went the tea towel (later replaced with a lovely cotton nest with a donated sheepskin dog toy, which the Husky is none too happy about), in went the meece. It was late, it had already been a bloody long day and we were tired, so we called our Biology PhD (mammalian no less) friend / neighbour just to be sure we were doing the right thing and fed them what we could of the milk we had in the fridge. It’s not ideal, incidentally, if you ever need to rescue young mammals, but it’ll do in a pinch.
We lost one of the meeces overnight, despite me getting up every couple of hours to try to get them to eat a little more, but the four that are left seem relatively hale and active (for creatures that basically sleep all the time). We hit the pet shop this morning and picked up a small cage, some bedding, and some kitten formula and they certainly preferred the latter to the cow’s milk.
Why kitten formula and not puppy formula, you may ask — I know I did. I’d have thought it had way too much protein in it for rodents. And why not mouse formula? Well that’s one’s easy — your average pet shop does not assume you will be hand-raising orphaned mice. The reference we Googled suggested kitten formula (twice diluted) without explaining why, but a quick perusal of the nutrition percentages leads me to believe it’s because puppy formula contains more than twice the fat (~40% vs. 18% in what we bought), which is presumably not so good for meece, while the protein & carb levels are almost identical.
So yes… as the spousal unit pointed out, we spent $60 on what are essentially back-yard pests, but I’m ok with that. I couldn’t leave them there to die, and having made that non-decision the rest is as much of a non-decision. No, we didn’t get a gold-plated rodent cage, but we did get enough to keep the little buggers alive and well for the 3-4+ weeks it may take them to become independent. Then we’ll release them. We live in a very rural area on the edge of a national forest, and they can go out and thrive and/or become owl or coyote food as nature decrees. I’m fine with that, but I wasn’t okay with letting them die on the concrete.
They have changed a lot in the 18 or so hours we’ve had them, but I haven’t taken any other pictures yet. Last night was very fragmented and I’m kinda tired since the SO doesn’t dare manipulate the babbies as they seem so delicate. They were 2-3 days old I think when we found them, so they’d had their colostum (which is good) and should have a reasonable chance of survival.
[Edit – here’s an updated picture, less than 24 hours after we found them. The ears are unfolding.]