About a baby – or: The day of the dead mouse

It was cold, when we wake up this morning and we got a good sense of how fall will feel up here in the mountains. My husband was still asleep, but my little daughters wanted to make breakfast, so I peeled off my warm and comfort bed. When we were entering the living room, I – still half asleep – heard my daughter’s frowning voice: „Mama, what is this on the floor?“ I opened my eyes fully and trudged on their side: There was a tiny little something laying on the floor. We took a closer look at it and I suddenly realized that this was a little baby mouse. „This is a little baby mouse,“ I told my daughters. „Where does it come from?“ they asked back. Well, that was a really good question! I took a look up, if I could discover a hole in the ceiling – I know that we have mice between the roof and the ceiling, I can hear them make a racket at night -, but I could not see anything odd.
We picked up that tiny little thing and bedded it in a light wooden box. „It is cold,“ my husband submitted, now also awake, caused by the fuss we made while we examined the baby mouse. So, we put some extra tissues in the box and placed the mouse’s bed under the floor lamp to keep it warm.

The mouse in the box

„We have to feed her,“ our daughter added, „She must be hungry.“ – I think she was assuming this, because she was hungry herself. Easier said than done! What do little mice eat? „Well, we probably have to milk a mouse…,“ my husband laughed. Unfortunately, there were no mother mice we could even tried to milk. So we went to the store, bought a small baby bottle, particularly for feeding baby animals. The teat was nearly as big as the baby mouse, but we could not find anything smaller.
Back home, we warmed up a tiny amount of milk (from a cow, not a mouse) and tried to feed the baby mouse with the baby bottle. It didn’t work very well, but we had the feeling to do something good. And we felt that the mouse took a least a few sips.
Unfortunately the baby mouse was dead at noon.

The House mouse (Mus musculus) is very common in old buildings. Mice in general live preferably in hidden places near food sources, which make older buildings, full of nooks and crannies, a perfect place to coexist with humans. As long as mice have enough food, they can reproduce six to eight times a year, each litter with up to eight babies.

The young mice remain blind and bald until they are around 15 days old. Our mouse, by the way, was not bold any more, but had its eyes still almost closed. I guess, it was at least 10 to 15 days old, when it – most likely – fell out of the nest between the roof and the living room’s ceiling and landed on our floor.

Female mice breastfeed their offspring, until the young mice are three weeks old. Assumed, our mouse was not older than 15 days, she should than had to be fed with breast milk at least one more week. In case you find an orphan mouse, the American fancy Rat & Mouse Association (AFRMA) proposes, you should better find another nursing female with babies, who can bring up the baby mouse.

As we were not able to find a foster mom for „our“ mouse – in fact, we did not really search for one – AFRMA suggests to feed the mouse with milk. They recommend whole, raw, fresh or goat milk, as well as kitten or puppy milk or some others. Whole milk was easiest to access for us, so we tried whole milk. As the sun on the deck was meanwhile much warmer than the 30 Watt bulb in our floor lamp, we put the box with the mouse out. As I said before, when we looked in the box the next time, the baby mouse was not alive anymore.

„Your chances of successfully raising newborns are not good“, AFRMA warned. We still do not really know, what caused the mouse’s dead. It seems, we had the right food, but maybe the mouse was heavily injured by falling from the ceiling. Or we did not take enough effort to keep the mouse warm. Anyway, now we have a little grave in our yard and one gadfly less, who rackets over our heads at night.

„The“ grave
Our daughters in funeral mood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.planet-wissen.de/natur/haustiere/maeuse/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_mouse

http://www.afrma.org/orphanrm.htm

 

 

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