Of Mice and Men

I was excited to post pictures and a story about the mouse habitat I built last week.

But it was a rough weekend.  It’s still hard to talk about.  It’s taken me a week to sit here to write.  I hate imparting sad news.  Unfortunately, sad stories are sometimes part of the larger tale, and always a part of life.

I have posted about my mice a few times before.

In perusing the Internet for mouse info, I found out about people building amazing mouse/hamster/rat houses from furniture.  Many “hack” Ikea furniture for these purposes.  With Amelia Pond Mouse being so large, and it being hard for her to get through the Habitrail tubes meant for these little furballs, a habitat was especially beneficial for her.  The habitat allows them to live more naturally, which is just better for them.  Thus, I ventured to that home furnishings playground and found a kitchen cabinet floor sample in the “As-is” section for $20 and began my project.

Last Friday, I ended up in the emergency room.  I was putting the last blasted screw into the plexi-glass door for the mouse house when I suddenly felt a strange pain and notice a fountain of red coming from my hand.  I am not sure at what point of the “in and out” I realised something was wrong, but I managed to flip the switch to reverse the drill to bring it back up, so I figure it must have been on the way out of my flesh that my brain registered.  Fortunately, I was using an 18 volt drill, so it was fast, and I was using the smaller of the 2 bits I was alternating between at the time.  Unfortunately, I broke the damn bit and drilled a hole all the way through my thumb- entry wound, exit wound.  It’s OK.  Shoosie found the bit on the floor, so I felt better knowing that it broke off NOT inside my thumb.  The Brit was a little upset that I didn’t go the ER right away, rather than waiting until 10 hours later when my hand was so swollen I couldn’t move my fingers and it was turning red, but…

I’m fine.  Mad because this really inhibits my ability to do ANYTHING easily, but I have done far worse.

Saturday, as I was filling the mouse house with bedding and toys, The Brit noticed Amelia sitting in the tubes of the Habitrail.  He went to look at her and thought she looked odd.  She wouldn’t move, so he pulled the tubes apart and slid her out.  She was obviously un-well.  I snuggled her in a piece of fleece I had just bought to make mousie hammocks for the new house, and she cuddled up under my chin as she was prone to do when she didn’t feel well or was sleepy.

She moved around a little and seemed perkier.  Her breathing and heart rate felt normal.  Half an hour later, it all stopped.  Just stopped.  Amelia drifted to sleep, and that was it.

That night, missing our Amelia so much, we put Marcella and Ruby into the new house.  They loved it.

On Sunday, Shooshie woke to a noise and came into the living room to find Marcie dead on the rug.  My cat had knocked the trap door that Habitrail tubes can attach to off.  It was screwed tight- I checked it 5 times before I went to bed and piled stuff in front of the barred end of the cage so he wouldn’t scare them.  Marcie, not knowing to be afraid of the cat and wanting to play, came on out.  Finnian didn’t eat her.  He just played, and that can never end well.

We were all stunned.  We still are.

On Monday, we took Amelia and Marcella to our local no-kill/third chance animal rescue where they were cremated with other animals that had deceased.  They were very kind and compassionate.  Shoosh and I toured the facility.  It is amazing.  She has already decided to adopt a dog and maybe a bunny from them when she gets her own place out here.

But back to Sunday…

My first thought was to get rid of the cats because I would never be able to even look at Fi without thinking about what he had done.  A few hours of sobbing, and I realised that he didn’t mean to do it.  He wasn’t being malicious.  He just wanted to play.  Fi is a thick-headed cat and forgets that he has been told NO about things before.  He knew we were upset with him, and he still looks puzzled and slinks off when I look at him in just the wrong way.  He really is a sweet boy, and I KNOW he wasn’t trying to hurt Marcie.  Fortunately, Ruby is still afraid of the cats as well as us, so she ran away from the open hole.

Female mice are not happy alone.  The best thing for them is to keep them in odd numbers.  Three female mice are better than 2 or 4.  Male mice, however, are a different story.  You could keep multiple males as long as they are from the same litter and have never been separated.  Girls are chatty and social.  Boys fight for the top dog position.  This applies to many species of creature.

Ruby had gone through a trauma, too.  Mice make noises on sound levels that humans cannot hear.  We have no way to know what sounds of distress she may have heard from Marcie.  Leaving Ruby alone in a new place, with humans she is not quite accustomed to, after the incident of the morning…  It seemed detrimental to Ruby.  After brief discussion, The Brit, now referred to as “The Mouse Whisperer”, took me to get company for her.  We went to the same PetSmart we’d gotten her from the week before with the plan to buy whoever was left.

There had been 4 babies about 6 weeks old when we got Ruby.  Two remained.

From left, Pippa, Ruby, and Teddy at bed-time

From left, Pippa, Ruby, and Teddy at bed-time



Pippa and Teddy (Theodora) now live happily with Ruby in the “kitchen cabinet”.



Had it been up to us, we would have waited to get more mice.  At least until I could walk past the old Habitrail cage without crying, a cage that sits in the garage for now because I still cannot bring myself to empty it out.  We got the babies for Ruby.  She had been cage-mates with them for a brief time, so they were somewhat familiar.  She has taken to the role of mother-hen, like Amelia did with little Marcie, ushering them around, building nests for them all, and making sure their ears are clean before bed.  It’s so cute.

For now, the mouse cabinet stays in our bedroom at night, even though I attached a safety panel of cage bar over the trap door.  It’s on wheels, so we can roll it out when we are home and awake, and back into the bedroom behind the closed door when we’re not.

Everything inside is adjustable and re-arrangeable

Everything inside is adjustable and re-arrangeable



I am sure I will sleep on the sofa the first month week night we leave it in the living room.







In a few days I will post the progress pictures of the mouse house.  For now, here’s the finished to be added on to later project.

We miss Amelia and Marcella, and while nothing could ever replace them, we love our new “children”.  The Brit is an amazing man to encourage me to build anything I want for our mice, no matter how absurd it may seem at first, to humour me through all of this silliness, and cry with me over our losses.


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