Friday, July 22, 2005

... I came as gold, I came as crap ...

Spiritually, it's another fine day. I'm still getting used to feeling so good even when physical conditions suggest that I shouldn't ( it's nastily hot and humid, but I'm gradually acclimating, so hey.)

Herewith a few items that may (or may not) be related. Part of my delight with the Internet is the journey of discovery that I undertake and the surprises that I find. If you enjoy discovery too, check out these links -

This refers to my subject title today. This is something we discovered by accident and got us to wondering whether the two are related. If you love animals, as we do, this is something you may want to take a peek at when you have some time. And this will be my subject matter for today.

Mice are curious creatures. At times they want nothing to do with you, at other times they will seek affection. They are much like cats, we have discovered; when they have security, they feel free to do whatever takes their fancy. They tend not to quickly embrace the unfamiliar; if we introduce an unknown element into their habitat, such as a cotton ball, they will often inspect it from a distance, waiting to see if it will move or in some other fashion present a possible threat. When it does not, they will dart forward, sniff quickly, and just as rapidly dart away again, looking back to see what, if anything, has changed. It takes a while for them to approach the object in a more leisurely fashion and give it a thorough inspection. Eventually it will become accepted as part of their environment, and the more adventurous mice will conceive a use for it, if there is one, and claim it as their own.Then, of course, all the mice will want it. Just like children.

They enjoy being petted and scratched, but only when it is their idea. Again like cats, the places where they like being scratched the most is in front of the ears and on their foreheads, where their little toes can't quite reach. A favorite place for being stroked is above the base of the tail, but it has to be gentle, as it seems to be quite sensitive. We maintain carefully manicured index fingernails for scratching purposes.

Their eating habits differ. Some mice prefer to take food to a private corner to eat in solitary; others are communal, sitting right at the bowl to eat. Inevitably, a few scuffles will ensue when more than one desires the same morsel. They hold nuts in their paws and gnaw at them in the manner of squirrels, although they don't sit quite as erect; they are slightly hunched. Seeds are rapidly hulled and devoured. We give them tuna, dried or fresh egg yolk, bone meal and oats, which they seem to enjoy; less appealing are the wretched vegetable pellets, which are almost universally scorned. Occasionally, we treat them with cheese and snack foods (we actually ran across a website that claimed that mice do not like cheese. This is a bald-faced lie. We can personally attest that mice love cheese.) Once we gave them some Ritz Bits; they liked the peanut butter flavor but scorned the 'cheese'-flavored crackers. Their palates can apparently discern the difference between real cheese and whatever processed matter Ritz uses to produce the crackers.

Something that never fails to amuse us is the perusal of exterminators' advertisements. Invariably they depict mice as scruffy, almost mangy creatures, and their ears appear to be notched or torn, as if Mike Tyson had attempted to snack upon them. In reality, mice are among the most fastidious of creatures, spending long minutes grooming and preening their beautiful fur. To watch them wash their faces is a rare joy, an action from which we always derive much pleasure.

Their eyes can be most expressive, almost paradoxically so, since we rarely, if ever, see the whites. By observing the light reflected from their pupils, we can tell in which direction they are looking (we have found this to be true of parakeets also.) There are all sorts of opinions to be found regarding whether mice have good eyesight; it has been our experience that they can see keenly up to a distance of approximately 6 yards; beyond that they can certainly detect movement, but we are unsure of how much detail they can make out.

Their noses, of course, are the most important sense organ that they possess. When confronted with the unknown or unfamiliar, the first action that they take is to raise their heads fractionally and twitch their noses. Their heads bob slightly up and down and turn from side to side, whiskers quivering, seeking the source of whatever has claimed their attention.

The ancestors of mice, shrew- or vole-like creatures, were among the first of the true mammals, and mice are likely to be one of the surviving species of a major natural (or human-created) disaster. (This is a cute site if you want to learn more.)

We have watched our mice evince watchfulness, curiosity and confusion, animosity and affection. We have seen them engage in love and war (how human of  them!) It never fails to amaze us that entities with such seemingly small brains are capable of so much more than basic instinctual behavior. We have learned much from these tiny but fascinating companions, not the least of which is that all the Creator's creatures have souls.

Peace.

1 comment:

queenbigo said...

Oh gosh now I want a mouse.