The mouse and the machine

About two and half years ago on a hot, sunny summer afternoon, I had set out to cut the grass after work. I walked into the shed that sits on the edge of our property and proceeded to pull the riding mower out. Before doing so, I lifted up the hood to check the gas. As soon as I did, I noticed what looked like a messy birds nest in the engine compartment. Right away I knew that it was a mouse’s nest. The first thing I did was too see if there any mice around. Nope. None. I checked two more times to be sure. Nothing. I backed the mower out of the shed, set my ipod, and spent the next two hours cutting the grass. Upon my return to the shed, I set my eyes to the ground so I could line up the mower with the ramp to the shed. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something wiggling in the grass as I pulled in. I parked the mower, locked the door and headed back to the house. On the way back I had decided to check out the spot where I saw the grass move. I was sure it was a toad or frog, so I called for Sia to come and see, as she loves to play with frogs. She came flying out of nowhere, ran to the spot that I was pointing to and abruptly stopped. The look of bewilderment on her face told me this was not a frog as she expected. Then she started to whimper. Taking this as a sign for me to get closer and explain to her what animal it was, I moved in for a closer look. We both lowered our heads at the same time to the grass to see exactly what we were looking at. What we saw both horrified and shocked me. It was this little guy in the photo above. He was gasping for air and his tail was almost completely cut off. He was about half the size of my thumb, pink with almost no hair, and his eyes had not yet opened. I ran back to the house to get Sheila. She scooped him up, brought him inside, and set him on the kitchen counter. “Can we save him?” I asked. “I don’t know, he’s pretty small” she replied. She told me to watch him while she looked for a box to put him in. A few minutes later she produces a shoe box and puts him inside. At this point, the little mouse had stopped gasping, but was still moving. “Is he hungry?” I said. “Let’s see” she answered. We still had formula left over from Jespah, so we grabbed the tiny bottle that we had used for the kitten, and tried to feed this poor mouse. This idea went south pretty quick because as small as the bottle was, it wouldn’t fit into the little guy’s mouth. Not wanting to waste any time, Sheila grabbed the box and ran out the front door. “I’m going to the vet” she said. About 30 minutes later she walks back in the door. “Well?” I asked. Sheila informs me that the vet had told her that it might be a good idea to put the mouse to sleep because raising a mouse this small without his mother was extremely difficult, and it was impossible to tell f he had any other internal injuries. I was crushed. I felt it was probably my fault that he was in this mess and the guilt was starting set in. I took the box from her and decided to get one last look. I opened the box and was shocked to see that he was still moving. I should have known. We’ve been through this before with other wild creatures(chipmunks, rabbits,birds, etc.) and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Sheila doesn’t give up that easy. “Okay, how are we going to feed him?” “Well, I talked with the vet and this is what we came up with” she says. She reaches in her purse and pulls out some kind of syringe with a long, extremely skinny tube on the end of it. “What the hell is that?” I asked. “A cat catheter” she answers. A catheter? For a cat? Really? Oh well, so be it. We immediately went to work getting the formula in the mouse. It worked. We fed him one drop at a time careful not to drown him as due his size, the difference between a full belly and choking was only one or two drops. We fed him every few hours or so just like Jespah. This went on for a couple of weeks and things were going great. He started to grow hair. You could see his little ears start take shape. Sheila put him in a ball of yarn that you see in the photo above. It was perfect. It kept him warm and if he wanted to hide, all he had to do was just bury himself into the wool. Then one day I come home from work to find Sheila in the kitchen with the ball of yarn cradled in her hands. “Look” she says. Judging from the long look on her face I knew it wasn’t good. Sure enough, after looking at him in his ball of yarn for a few minutes, I slowly realize that the poor guy had passed on. “It wasn’t your fault” she tells me. “He was so small there’s no way that you could have seen him on that mower.” Sheila was right, but I still felt bad. We stroked his furry little head for a few minutes and Sheila took him away, to be buried later. We had a cup of coffee and talked for a while about all the animals that we had rescued and set free, and how you just can’t save them all. In the end, I take comfort in the fact that all of our animals (all rescued) live very happy and healthy lives and should we come across another poor soul in desperate need for help, we’ll be there ready to lend a hand.

Tech:Canon 40D, Ef 35mm L 1.4, ISO 250, 1/250@f/8

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8 Comments on “The mouse and the machine

  1. So heartbreaking… as a fellow animal lover, I know that in just a few moments you can become attached and to lose that animal, no matter how small or big, how long or short of a time they’ve been in your life, is just so sad. Its so sweet of you two to do everything you could to save its life though, thank you for that

  2. That one got to me. A tiny tear. Such a sweet photo..Last month, in the freeze of winter, I realized I had a little mouse move in…it runs out from a hall closet and across my livingroom floor each night…sometimes it is so brazen, it sits there while I take flash photos and doesnt mind at all. It sniffs around for seed my pet dove has been careless with. I went to Walmart but they were out of those no-kill traps, so I let the little thing stay. It’s sort of entertaining late at night to see. 😉

    But when it warms up, I am afraid I will have to catch and release. I live near a wooded creek, so it’s got plenty of environment. I guess your post really triggered me; Thanks for doing your best to save your baby mouse! Bless both your hearts.

    • Oh, and by the way, if it’s any consolation, my neighbor (years ago) was a vetinary assistant. She took one of my dogs babies and had its tail docked (I am against, but she did it) on Day 5; she said their nerves are not developed and they do not feel pain yet so young, so maybe your little mouse never felt the mower cut its tail off! (if that helps)

    • Good for you Author. We once had a chipmunk who lived in our house in a picnic basket. Every evening at about 6 o’clock he would jump out an run around the house to his secure spot so the cats couldn’t get to him, where Sheila fed him, and he would then run back to the basket. When spring came, I woke up one morning to find that he had chewed out a hole in the window sash and left. Check your local vet for a loaner on the no kill trap. Here’s a tip: If he is too light and grabs the food without triggering the trap, then use a piece of bread clamped to the tray by a clothes pin. He’ll have no choice but to pull on it, thereby flipping the trap. Good luck.

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