We’ve had some changes to the mouse colony.
Last I wrote about them, we had Ruby, Pippa, and Teddy (properly called Theodora).
That was in May. The Brit and I got married August 30, and after 3 busy days of wedding and post-wedding day trips, we were excited to relax and play with the mice. Ruby and Pippa came out to play, but Teddy, who was usually waiting at the door for us, was nowhere to be found. Moving things around in the house, we found Teddy buried in the bedding. She must have passed away in the 3 days we were gone and the girls, probably Ruby, buried her. We were stunned and devastated to lose Teddy.
A few days later, we went to the PetSmart where we had gotten Amelia to see about another mouse. Female mice do better in odd-numbered groups. We found 2 mice in 2 different cages. Both about 3 months old, having been in the shop for 2-4 weeks. We chose the one that came to the front of the cage when people came by. Her name is Lucy.
Lucy has turned out to be, like our Amelia, a large mouse. She is also very active and… well, I think she’s part Labrador retriever. She is sweet and funny and sometimes over-friendly. Like many types of animals, mice sniff each others butts to identify one other. Lucy can be a bit rough with her hellos, much to poor tiny Pippa’s distress.
There were some ground rules squeakily laid by Ruby upon Lucy’s arrival, and we were concerned we’d have to exchange Lucy for a calmer girl. A week of active intervention, however, brought us all to a more liveable arrangement. Lucy learned her place. Pippa learned to avoid Lucy when possible, and Ruby seemed to help Lucy acclimate to her new home.
The Brit bought me a jigsaw so I could build a new Ikea kitchen cabinet habitat because 3 little creatures such as mice need a bigger space, after all. Then I re-vamped the first Ikea house for a second time.
Having 2 mouse cabinets does take up some space in our currently cramped apartment, but with 2, when I clean their house every week, I can just switch the girls into the “other” house instead of keeping them in the tiny cages for the couple of
several hours it takes me to clean and rebuild the interior.
Cleaning takes only about 20 minutes, including the toys and food/water apparatus. It’s the putting everything inside that takes the time because I do it differently each week. There are shelves, boxes, bedding materials, tubes, tunnels, wheels, and toys to place, and treats to hide throughout. They are intelligent creatures who need mental stimulation for overall well-being, so the change is good for them. There are constants in that certain items are used every week and there are always at least 3 stories, but enough change to make them have to look for toys and food and build nests. I use lids from Ikea plastic storage boxes (PBA free, thus, safe for the mice) to line the bottom of the house and the shelves for easy cleaning.
Our Ruby is not happy unless she has building material. Seriously. Ruby has passed up treats for a pile of torn up packing paper. Mice are susceptible to obsessive compulsive disorders when they are bored too much. Ruby, having been in the pet shop for 4 months before we got her in late April, has overcome numerous OC tendencies to become a happy little mouse. She still has some OCPD, but so do I, so we understand each other. At least I know the other girls are well-cared for, kept in order, and always have a good warm nest to sleep in thanks to Ruby.
Mice like to forage. It’s natural behaviour. So while most of their food is spread around the house, I keep a bowl of food near one of the water towers so I can keep tabs on their eating habits to some degree- what they like, what they leave behind, etc. We have 2 water towers made from small plastic bottles. This solved the problem of not having cage bars to attach the water dispensers to in the big house. Since the cage is large and we have multiple mice, we have water upstairs and downstairs so no one has to go too far for a drink. We started off with the typical upside down bottle with the metal tube and ball assembly, but decided to try gravity bottle, from the bird section of the pet-shop, for the second one. I assume they prefer the bird one, since that is the one that goes empty first, no matter which floor I put it on.
Three months later…
We have 2 more mice. Everyone is fine. We just have 5 mice now, instead of 3. Yeh. I know. But we did it for Pippa! Pip is the tiniest adult mouse I have ever seen. Ruby is normal size, and Lucy is literally a hand-full, while Pippa fits in a teaspoon. Lucy and Ruby are both what would be considered dominant personalities. Pippa is totally not, which means she gets bossed around all the time. So off we went to the PetSmart where we’d gotten Marcella, Ruby, Teddy, and Pippa because they seem to have smaller mice than the other one.
First off, when I talked about getting more mice and the Brit agreed, I thought he was pulling my chain, so I called his bluff to see how far he would go. He went all the way to the pet shop. He was serious.
Now, I had been in that shop a couple of weeks earlier for mouse food and, as always, peeked at the mice to see what they had
chanting “no more mice”. There was a pretty little white mouse with a fine line of black outlining her ears. She reminded me of one of those white Siamese cats.
Fast-forward 2 weeks… she is still there. Along with three others, all no more than 7 weeks old (mice are put for sale around 6 weeks of age). The very kind young man who helped us with the mice mentioned that the white mice don’t get adopted very fast. That made our minds about one of our new girls. (Keep in mind, we needed 2 more mice to keep an odd number.) That left us with 3 tiny girls to choose from: a chocolate satin with white belly, a fuzzy white with brownish splotches and a stripe on her head making her look like a miniature skunk, and another the spitting image of our Amelia. Initially, of course, we thought to take the Amelia look-alike. But the Brit pointed out that it would be difficult not to think of the original A all the time (like we don’t anyway) and we might expect this girl to act like our Amelia. He was right, so that left us 2 choices. After 10 minutes or so of observation, we noted that the chocolate seemed to follow “Amelia 2″ around closely, and the fuzzy seemed to run around on her own a lot. We pondered and played a few more minutes, having a lovely chat with our clerk, young Trevor. We chose the fuzzy mouse.
Finally, Pippa had a friend her size! At least for now. Pippa is the same size as this baby mouse. Pippa, being 9 months old, is not going to get any bigger. We tried, Pip!
Five mice. I have 5 mice. The crazy Brit bought me 5 mice! And then he says: We need a bigger cabinet. O.o
Like I need any temptation to go to Ikea!
The current, and hopefully long-running, cast of characters:
Ruby, born October 2012. A belted lavender mouse, not the silver we originally thought her to be. Lavender is a combination of fawn and silver fur that actually looks pale purple in the right light. She has pink eyes.
Pippa, born March 2013. A chocolate belted. Smaller than my Charming Tales mice figurines, no bigger than a 7 week old mouse, and perhaps the smallest mouse ever.
Lucy, born July 2013. Broken marked. She looks like a black mouse wearing a white coat. Much larger than the other girls, and as big as Amelia was.
Sadie, born September 2013. When I said she looked like a Siamese cat… well, I found out she is a Siamese mouse! She has brownish “points” on her bum and onto her tail, around her muzzle, and the outlined ears. She has pink eyes.
Tinkerbell, born October 2013. A mis-marked Dutch with wisps of long hair amidst her over-all coat. We’ll be working with her a little extra to tame her because she is rather wild at the moment. We’ve made good progress in the almost 2 weeks we’ve had her. She’ll do fine.
Adding the extra 2 mice was a good decision. Sadie is calm and friendly, so Pippa has Ruby and Sadie to pal around with. Those 3 sleep together. Lucy has simmered down some since the arrival of Tink who moves fast and sniffs at Lucy’s butt enough to make *her* squeak. They are the most active girls and spend a lot of time together. Meanwhile, Ruby is working on getting Tink into line when it comes to interacting with the others. Ruby reminds me of my 8th grade Catholic school teacher, Sister Kevin.
As a matter of fact, I observed some amazing behaviour from Ruby last night with regards to Tinkerbell. Tink shoved a few shreds of paper into the outhouse after Ruby dug all the litter out of it again. Ruby and I need to come to an agreement about the outhouse. She knows what it’s for, but when Ruby doesn’t like something where you put it, she will move it, and I have apparently not found an acceptable spot for the potty. Anyhoot, Tink was trying to make a nest, but didn’t have enough paper. Ruby poked her head in to see what Tink was doing. Then she ran into the box across from the outhouse into the ball nest there. There was some cheeping, and Ruby ran back to Tink, then back to the nest. Tink came out of the outhouse and into the nest with Ruby. Ruby went out, and Tink stayed for a moment before going back to the outhouse. So Ruby goes back and does it all again. Tink finally abandoned the outhouse and kept running into and out of the ball nest. I have not noticed Tink in the outhouse today. I really believe there was some communication going on there with Ruby teaching Tink about nesting.
Mice really are intelligent creatures.
I started writing this post last week. Five days later, the ladies have settled in even more. Tink is not causing so much squeaking, and has discovered how fun it is to come out and play with the silly humans. The new girls have successfully, excitedly gone through their first house cleaning/change, I added more staircases and floors, and we bought them a living room suite.
It is the cutest thing! The girls LOVE it. Pippa claimed the 4th floor where I set it up. She has a a rug, sofa, rocking chair, lamp, TV, and then a window to climb “outside” to her play area. I put a piece of polar fleece (safe for small pets) into the sofa and within a short time, after exploring her new digs, Pippa was curled up inside. Later, Ruby joined her. And then Lucy, who could only get her head in, then Sadie and Tink who piled up on the rug in front of the sofa. It was adorable.
Now I want the bedroom set, too. I think the girls would like the bedroom set, too.
The 4th floor continues to be Pippa’s domain, but the others visit. Ruby still sleeps with Pip, and Sadie joins them most of the time. Tink has Lucy, so the balance is good. That doesn’t mean they don’t all play together, just that we now have 2 groups so no one is out in left-field.