Cleaning up some stuff over at the studio, I “eeped” when I picked up a box of stuff that had been sitting for a year or so, and something moved – quickly – in it.
It was a mouse. As I gingerly removed some of the top layers of stuff, it appeared, then ran and dug deeper to hide again. But something subliminally upset me: the mouse looked like there was something wrong with it. I’ve had to deal with mice that have had limbs sliced off by traps, or which had deformities – this one looked like it had some kind of deformity in its hind quarters, like it was dragging something.
The mouselings seem fine, but they were latched on to something (I assume her nipple?) for all they were worth. The entire family moved as a unit. It looks like the mouselings are new enough that their eyes aren’t opened, yet, or something.
I put the container in another room where it can be left alone for a few months. Unfortunately, madame mouse appears to have pooped and peed all over some of my stuff; but I couldn’t bear to kill her (with what, anyway? a hammer? a b.b. gun?) she and her mouselings will eventually have enough to worry about.
Did you know that mice do this “latch on” behavior? It was quite a surprise for me!
If this is part of standard mouse strategy, it seems like it must limit the size of the litter.
Mice are cute but very inconsiderate of my stuff. I’d be happy to give them a comfortable home (I’d even feed and water them) except that it’d just result in more mice and mouse poops. My house has had no mouse issues since Basement Snake [stderr] took up residence under the freezer chest – he recycles mice like nobody’s business, but he leaves cast skins and snake poops.
My house has had no mouse issues since Basement Snake took up residence under the freezer chest
Reminds me of a colleague who was researching the causes and cures of wet basement. One report from the field (well cellar) said that the basement was very wet; it even had a colony of frogs. However, the snakes were keep them in check.
Well, here’s some science to cheer you up! The gestation period of the house mouse is 19 – 21 days. The female gives birth to between 3 – 14 young (average 6 – 8) and can become pregnant again the day after giving birth. Females have 5 – 10 litters per year throughout their life, and in a protected area such as your house, they can live two to three years. Young females reach sexual maturity at six weeks of age. The pups you found are a little less than two weeks old; they generally open their eyes at 13 – 14 days of age.
I used to raise mice, and although I never saw the pups latch on and hang on to the mother like this, I also never disturbed the mothers in the nest. I raised mice in cages and did not let them roam free, of course. At my house, I have a very good trapping program in place. (I use the electronic kind of trap.) That’s because the mice I have here are not the house mouse but the deer mouse, which carries Hanta virus. I am not keen on getting that, so I keep up my trapping and do everything I can to keep mice out of the house and to keep their numbers in check out in the barns and sheds. You can see that in a very short time you can have a crap load of mice (I mean that most sincerely) and yes, even if they are not deer mice, they can still do a great deal of damage.
I have used the sonic deterant things with success, the main disadvantage with them is that they only work in line-of-sight, but if you have everything on shelves that isn’t a problem. Well unless the little bastards come down into your dog’s treat box from the roof. I did a bioderoiration module way back at university and the rough reckoning was if you saw one mouse you probbly have at least another thirty around. If you do want to trap they prefer going round walls and behind things so putting traps down between furniture and wall is the most effective placing. It was one of those fascinating modules that stick with you even though you never do any more studying on the subject.
I only experienced one mouse. Until one day my shepherd mix (RIP, Max) had an upset stomach and urped up his lunch onto the floor. Said lunch included one intact mouse.
Marcus Ranum says
Said lunch included one intact mouse
Dogs are food opportunists.
My dear dog Miles got his pooper blocked and some poor vet-tech had to help him with that. It turned out he had chugalugged an entire rabbit. Now, try explaining to your dog that they have to make sure they bite down on the skull part…
Marcus Ranum says
I did a bioderoiration module way back at university and the rough reckoning was if you saw one mouse you probbly have at least another thirty around.
Well, living out here, I know I am surrounded by critters. Its cool to see the mouse-runs in the snow in the winter. But my house is pretty permeable to anything smaller than a raccoon. Which is good, because the raccoons would probably be in my refrigerator otherwise.
Marcus Ranum says
You can see that in a very short time you can have a crap load of mice (I mean that most sincerely)
Now I reminded of Richard Dawkins’ bit about calculating the the entire solar system ought to be filled with rats out to the orbit of Saturn (or something) Yeah, mice have a pretty impressive reproductive strategy!
I do admit I was initially squicked out by the little blind things hanging on momma while she ran around…
Dunno about mice, but ratlets latch on like nothing you’ve ever seen. I’ve had a mom move while a crew is nursing, with all but maybe one or two keeping their latch. Those little ones come out hungry.