The Ringworm Infection

•June 5, 2009 • Comments Off on The Ringworm Infection

I have a ringworm infection.  Blech.

After being crazy itchy for 2 weeks, I finally went to my doctor to see if he could give me anything to help.  He looked at my chin.  Then I showed him my shoulder and he said “you have ringworm”.  

I had, at one point, suspected ringworm, but the appearance wasn’t completely typical, and despite my scratching, I hadn’t spread the rashes to other parts of my body.  Now, I wish I’d gone to see him a week ago.  I could have been a week into my treatment already.

But now, my usual rampant paranoia is in overdrive.  If one of the little’uns was infected, they could be quarantined.  But, how do I quarantine myself from 20 furry babies who rely on me for their existance?  The last two days have been a flurry of vet appointments, scrubbing, bleach, hand sanitiser, and laundry.

Almost everything has been scrubbed – my nails cracked in several places, and various scuffs and tears in my skin, and cramps in my fingers to show for it.  The vet said that I “shouldn’t worry about it”.  Well, how does that work?  I’m contagious!

Here’s hoping for the best though.  I’m on high-alert for itchy-looking mice.

Moral Dilemma

•May 20, 2009 • Comments Off on Moral Dilemma

My little wild mouse escaped.

In what I suppose are her frantic efforts to escape, she had been making a considerable mess of the tub I had her in.  Afraid of the litter going mouldy, I took her out of the tub to clean it last night.  I did the best thing I knew to… pinched her tail and picked her up.

As this is not… “good” for the mouse, I have this technique where once I’ve grabbed them, I twist my hand around underneath them to support their feet.  When I picked up the little wild mouse, as I was trying to get my hand under her, she reacted in the only way she knew how.  Something had a hold of her tail, so she bit it.

Now, I’ve been bitten by my mice before, it’s not much to worry about, but this was different.  She sunk her tiny teeth into the pad of my pinkie finger and refused to let go.  And dear sweet Optimus ever-loving Prime did it HURT.

I finally dropped her in the cup I was transferring her to, but it was pretty traumatic for both of us.  So tonight, when she’d made a week’s worth of mess in just one day, I tried to come up with another tactic.  I took a small transport tub that I’ve borrowed from a friend, opened the hatch in the top and placed the two tubs on their sides, hatch-to-hatch.  She immediately went to investigate this new development, and I dropped the hatch on the smaller tub, smacking her on the bum as I did so.

I should have been more patient.  In hindsight, that was far more horrible than I thought it would be for her.  But it got worse.  This borrowed tub is smaller than mine, and it turns out I couldn’t get the water bowl in there.  

If I’d just converted the damn transport tub to be able to hold a water bowl, none of this would have been a problem!  This is not the first time my laziness has thwarted me, and I should really learn my lesson.

So, I pried the top off the tub, and covering most of the opening, I carefully lowered the water bowl in.  I should have seen it, she was calculating.  She saw an opportunity, and she took it.  She leapt out through the gap between my hand and the lid of the tub.  She sprang towards freedom.  She luckily landed on the bin my my desk, and leapt again to the floor. 

It happened so fast.

So here’s my dilemma: do I try catch her again?

I could set the traps again and see if I can trap her.  But what then?  Keep holding her unfairly?  Hope that she settles in and warms up to me?  I’d actually considered setting her free as my personal House Mouse.  It seemed like a better idea then setting her loose outside to the mercy of cats and birds.  But what about my dog?  What about my mice?  I mean, I’m pretty confident that she can’t reach them, but it’s still a concern.

So, do I let her be?  Maybe she’ll run far, far away from the sadistic mouse owner with the humane traps.  Mayhaps that I never see her again.  It makes me sad, she was so tiny and adorable.

*sigh*

Mouse in my House

•May 18, 2009 • Comments Off on Mouse in my House

As you know, recently (Friday) due to some exceptional stupidity on my part, two of my mice escaped.  The very next day, I was surprised by a tiny mouse head poking it’s head out at me from down on the floor near where I keep all the mouse accessories.  It sure as hell didn’t look like one of my mice, and surely it was too small!  I’d put the humane traps under my bathroom sink instead of returning them upstairs, so I pulled them out and set them near the dogs bowl.  Sure enough, the little squirt was gravitating towards the water as well.

I was completely paranoid, though I knew this mouse couldn’t be one of mine, so I went around and roused all my mice out of their beds early (dinner time was still about 2 hours away) to do a head count.  Everyone was accounted for, but I left the traps set up just in case.  Then, last night (Sunday) I spotted the pipsqueak again.

I was snacking on some granola clusters, so I added some to the traps to sweeten the deal, and sure enough, this little mouse darted across the floor and into one of the traps.  It did not need to go far enough into the trap to trigger to grab the granola, but the trap was facing away from me, so I crept towards it and nudged the end.  Gotcha!

Just my luck, but between Jakobim making his tub unlivable, forcing me to temporarily home him and Nate and Tris in CritterTrails, the third one is currently occupied by a (hopefully) broody SUN Blue Sky.  I grabbed the transport tub, and tipped my captive inside.  She’s tiny!  At least, I think she’s a she… she might just be teeny.  I’ve given her food, and water (though I can’t fit a water bottle in there, so I have to use a bowl, and she keeps throwing litter and bedding in the water, making it smell funky).

Now I’m at a loss.  She’s a sweet little thing, though terrified.  I know that I should release her.  I don’t know where.  I could try taking her up to the top of the estate and hopefully let her go sorta in the scrub.  If it’s too close to home, she might just come back, but I really can’t think of anywhere that’s not right on top of other people’s home.  Other people who might be less humane about a tiny wild mouse.

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click to enlarge

Injuries

•May 15, 2009 • Comments Off on Injuries

In light of my last post, and seeing as the boys were awake again, I took them each out and examined them.

Tristan has had his tail marked.  He still has a tiny bit of scabbing on his shoulder from the incident with Jakobim all that time ago.  He also has a bit on his neck.  I fear this has occured since their reunion this morning.  I’m not sure of the meaning, but I if either of them suffer any further injuries, I will have to seperate them.

Nathaniel has an injury to his paw.  It looks like it has a thread wrapped around it and pulled tight, biting into the flesh.  This could have happened during this morning’s debacle, as I noted that the escapee mouse was dragging some dust behind him (both myself and my dog shed hairs, making my home a haven of dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds).

Nathaniel does seem larger to me.  In absence of any other options, I will weigh them tonight if I remember.  They are back in the igloo together – peacefully this time – so I won’t take them out just now and disturb them.

A weigh in confirms that a) Nathaniel is larger than his brother again, b) that is was Tristan that was running wild about my living room this morning, and c) Nate is lost without his baby brother.  There have been several scuffles, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t make me think twice, but has put me on edge considering their injuries.  However, they have remained curled together in the igloo, so I may just be paranoid.

The Mouse Debacle

•May 14, 2009 • Comments Off on The Mouse Debacle

I am an idiot.

I’m an idiot who is very, very lucky.

Just the other day, I posted about Jakob having chewed through the plastic of his tub, to escape.  Jakob’s currently living in a CritterTrail while I decide what to do about the situation.  Last night, I was cleaning some of the tubs/cages, and I decided that seeing as Jakob’s tub was currently vacant, I would empty it and clean it.

Because each tub acts as the lid for the tub below, I couldn’t simply leave the slot where Jakob’s tub would go empty.  So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to move Nate and Tristan’s tub up one slot.  Stupidly, I figured that they wouldn’t escape on the first night.  Surely it would take some time for them to work out Jakob’s escape route.

Idiot.

I had volunteered to go to work this morning so one of the girls could have to day off, so I got up to my alarm this morning, and dragged myself out of bed.  I’m glad I’d put socks on about half an hour prior, when my alarm first went off (I time it so I can get 2 twenty-minute snoozes in), because I might have been frost bitten by now otherwise.

The bathroom is just across the hall, but the door is slightly offsite from the bedroom.  I was about to step into the bathroom when a small and grey mousey shape darted out of the bathroom and into the hall, heading for the kitchen.  It was dark, I couldn’t really see, but I knew it was Nate.  I just knew.

At the moment, my house is a mousey dreamland.  There are half-unpacked boxes everywhere, and perfect mouse-sized gaps around most of them.  I managed to corner Nate, trapping him behind a box, but as I tried to grab him, he leapt over my hand and disappeared between the forest of boxes.  I freaked out.

I locked my dog in the wardrobe.  There are no doors in my house.  There is only the “baby” gate that I had set up in the doorway of the walk-in robe.  I put Menchi behind that so he couldn’t chase Nate. Instead of getting ready for work, I spent half an hour alternately freaking out, flat on my stomach trying to peer under the last piece of furniture I’d seen him run under, or trying to inch closer to the dog’s water bowl where Nate was gravitating towards the water source.

It was almost time for me to be leaving for work.  I took one of the spare cages I had and propped it over the dog’s bowl.  I hoped that Nate would be desperate enough for water that he’d climb up the side and into the cage (the top of the cage wasn’t on), and that I’d be able to grab him faster than he could climb up and out again.

I went into the bedroom to wait for mum to come downstairs.  In my messed up state of mind, I decided to check on all the mice tubs.  Danube?  Check.  Jackson?  Yes.  Ronan?  Yup.  Heath.  Indeed.  Finally, I opened the tub where Nate and Tris were supposed to be.  

Tristan had always been a home body… part of me hoped that maybe he had stayed after Nate had gotten out.  I wasn’t that lucky, the tub was completely deserted.  My heart fell.  I’d only seen one mouse in the living area, and although it was moving around fast, it wasn’t getting around so fast that it could have been two mice.

I told mum what happened, and that I wouldn’t be going to work.  Menchi is a terrier, and given even half an opportunity, he would love to “play” with my mice.  I couldn’t risk allowing him free run of the apartment while my babies were loose.  I mentioned something to mum about having to go out and get humane mouse traps.  Blessedly, she told me that the owned some, but didn’t know where they were.

I decided to clear my head by setting out exactly what I was going to do.  I was going to go to the bathroom, get dressed, find the traps, set them, and wait.  Wait for as long as it took.  Coming out of the bathroom, I noticed movement.  When I’d taken Jakobim’s tub for cleaning, I’d put his wheel in the gap under the stack where the bottom drawer would go.  Perched there was one of the boys.  He must have stayed on my chest of drawers, hiding behind the girls cage.

I gathered him up, he didn’t try to run.  Curled in my hand, I was convinced it was Nate.  He honestly seemed larger than the escaped boy.  Last night, I’d set up one of the CritterTrails, thinking to try pairing Tris and SUN Blue Sky again.  Thankful, I took Nate through to the living area to put him inside.  Tris was frozen under the dining table.  I pinched the base of Nate’s tail and crouched down, saying “tell your brother to come back”, but Tris ran.

I put Nate inside the CritterTrail, and gave him a water bottle.  Hoping that Tris would want to come back to his brother, I put the CT on the floor next to the dog’s bowl and went to get dressed.  My idea had worked, Tris kept coming back to Nate in the cage, but wouldn’t let me approach.  I went upstairs and found the traps.

The humane traps are like a bent pipe.  When set, they balance on one end, with the baited end up in the air.  The hinged door has a pair of “legs”, when set, these legs rest on the floor, holding the door open.  As soon as a mouse walks too close to the baited end, their weight tips the trap over, the baited end coming down to the floor and the door end tilting up in the air.  The moment the “legs” aren’t firmly touching the floor anymore, the hinge of the door springs closed.  I imagine it would be possible for a mouse with a long body to trap their tail in the door, but all round these are pretty good traps.

I smeared some nutella in the end of each, and stuck a piece of sugary cereal to the nutella.  Tris was climbing on the CritterTrail when the traps were ready, trying to get to the water bottle.  I blocked off the two easy escape routes with the traps, and sat there, ready to try and frighten him back towards the traps if he tried climbing the cage around the water dish and escaping that way.

It didn’t take long.  He investigated both trap entrances, them carefully made his way inside.  I think the fact that it was dark and enclosed appealed to him – he was feeling vulnerable.  He’d barely touched the slope inside the trap and it triggered.  I picked up the CritterTrail and the trap and took them over to the dining room table.  I filled the food bowl and put the boys’ igloo, stuffed with their bedding, into the CritterTrail.  I was completely paranoid about Tris making a dash for freedom once I opened the trap, so I stuck the end into the CritterTrail and opened it, almost unceremoniously dumping him onto  the CT floor.

He had a long drink, and the boys had a big feed.  They curled up in their snug igloo and went to sleep.  I can only imagine how cold the poor things were, it was a mere 17 degrees this morning.

I plan on keeping a very close eye on them both.  I worry that the escapee may have injured themself when they jumped/fell of the drawers and onto the floor.  And one of them looks like they have an injured paw (dammit!  Why didn’t I mark the tail of the boy that I found safe under the tubs??).

At the end of the day, I have to count myself as very lucky.  Depsite my idiocy, if the escapee had found a better hiding place, or if they hadn’t escaped until after I left for work, Menchi would have been loose in the house.  While I don’t doubt that they could have stayed safely out of his reach, I also imagine that they would have died in their hiding places.

There’s Always One

•May 12, 2009 • Comments Off on There’s Always One

On Monday, I went to a $2 store and bought some cheap towels to throw over the cages to help keep the warmth in.  On Tuesday morning, when I woke up, there was mouse poop on the towel covering the girls cage.  At the time, I simply blamed it on Ronan.  The mesh “window” of his drawer-tub overlooks the top of the girls cage, and he climbs that wire a lot.

This morning however, Jakob was perched all casually on top of the girls cage.

Jakob’s never been shy about chewing things.  Though he was fairly well behaved about the items inside his cage (his igloo, wheel, and cuddle cube), he shredded my cage tidy that I’d put around his cage to keep the litter he kept tossing everywhere in.  When I moved him to the drawer-tub, he chewed a second exit hole in his cuddle cube, then destroyed the two loops at the back for hanging.  I assumed it was simply a “protest” (read: bored) at being moved to these new quarters.

I now think that he might have been looking for an exit.

The drawers sit “flush” against the support above, which is what generally keeps the mice from escaping, but this is not a solid barrier.  Forgive the crappy drawing, but here’s a basic cross-section:

The blue is the tub itself, with a folded over edge.  The black is the support above.  Every inch and a half, there is a vertical support that rests against the top of the tub edge, preventing it from being able to be lifted up within the slot.  I didn’t draw that on the picture, or else my diagram would have just looked like a box, and wouldn’t have illustrated what I’m about to say.

As you can see, there is a gap that a sufficiently small creature could slip through.  Fortunately, a full grown mouse is far too large to slip through this space.  Even if they could climb up through the gap, there wasn’t anywhere near enough room for them to “turn” and climb out the gap on the other side.  Unless that mouse likes the taste of plastic. 

There’s always one, isn’t there?  One mouse that’s willing to chew on anything.  When I first put Jakob in the tub, he quickly set to work on the inner side of the black plastic support.  I could stick my finger through the gap he’d made, but as I’d never seen him attempt to get through, I simply asumed that despite his best efforts, he wasn’t able to fit through.  I felt confident that the tubs would hold.  Silly me.

The two drawer units are placed on either side of the girls cage, and all three sit on top of a chest of drawers I own.  On the side that Jakob chewed his first hole, there was nothing outside his cage but a sheer drop.  I expect that he first climbed up through the hole he had made, looked down at the floor, and decided “no”.  To this, I can only say thank God.  Finding Jakob splat’ed on the floor would have broken my heart.

After I took his tattered and tortured cuddlecube away, I think Jakob needed to find a new form of entertainment.  In a display of mousey cleverness, he decided to chew himself another escape hole, but this time on the other side.  Now, I don’t know how long that hole’s been there, and I’ll tell you why.  When I noticed Jakob on top of the girls cage, I picked him up and put him back, knowing he would escape again, but putting my mind partially at ease as I couldn’t address the problem right that second.

Of course he got out again, but in an attempt to dodge my hands when I went to pick him up again, he scrambled back inside his tub.  So, heaven only knows how long he’s been able to get out of the tub, slipping back inside when he got bored or something.  This morning was just the first time I’d caught him in the act.

I put him in a CritterTrail this morning, complete with wheel, and his water bottle, food bowl, and igloo with paper nest.  I can’t keep him there permanently, but I’m not sure quite what to do with him.  I don’t want to set him up in a fifth cage, but I also don’t have anyone to swap him with.  What to do, what to do?

Part XI – Sunday, April 19

•April 19, 2009 • Comments Off on Part XI – Sunday, April 19

Yes, I said that I wouldn’t make any more updates, but I thought it might be fitting to mention how Anya’s been doing.

The news is excellent.  I popped her on the scales yesterday and she’s gaining weight again.  This is the best news she could possibly give me.  Better than the other day when I heard her drinking from her water bottle, or that she uses her wheel at a more energetic speed.

She’s moulting, and her nose is almost bare, which looks terrible with her thin hair and painfully thin body, but that should be perfectly normal, and should pass.