Click here to return to Bucky's home page
Lil’ Orphan Annie
© 2002, paul goodman & Deb Krom

Annie was orphaned quite young, but was very fortunate to have been found by Deb Krom in, of all places, a parking lot. This is how Deb tells it.

On July 31, we went camping in Sussex County (northernmost) NJ. It was quite warm, probably near 90. Around 5:00, we went to fetch firewood at the campground store. Several small boys were playing with something on the hot asphalt. As the boys ran away, we saw that it was a small, gray something with closed eyes. I thought it was a mole. We brought it back to our campsite and put it into an oven mitt for the night. The next morning, we assumed whatever it was would have expired overnight, but found it to be alive and hungry. Not knowing what it was or what to do, I heated some water and mixed in powered creamer. She took a small bit. We took her home via the vet's office; they told us it was a mouse. They gave us some powdered goats milk, but said the mouse would be dead by morning. I got home, surfed the Internet, and found you, Paul. The rest is history!!!!

I referred Deb to a number of sites with information on caring for orphans (see the FYI - Orphaned Babies page for these links) and answered any questions that I could. At this stage Deb didn't know if the mouse was male or female. Even though she had little knowledge of mice, she worked hard for the little girl's life. Since this is Deb's story, it's mostly descriptive email that I received from her during Annie's infancy. I've included my own email only when it helps with readability.

On August 3rd I received this letter:

From Deb - 08/03/2001

Paul,

Should I get the aspen bedding or something similar rather than soft cloth? I know NOTHING about mice - never had one. At this point, I don't even know if this is a mouse or a rat. He's getting much stronger over the past 24 hours and is eating very well. I bought the KRM this morning and he seems to like it. He makes a big mess though, and I've been cleaning his face with a q-tip and warm water. I really hope he's over the hump; it's been since Tuesday when I found him. Any and ALL advice you could give is most appreciated!!!

Thanks so much,

Deb

And this one on the 5th:

From Deb - What do I do next??? - 08/05/2001

Paul,

HELP!!!!

His little eyes are starting to open!!!! When do I start him on solid food? Also, I've not seen mouse food, only gerbil and hamster food. Can you recommend something?

Thanks so much,

Deb

By now it looked like the little guy was going to survive and it was time to try and identify what type of mouse he was. I inquired as to what he looked like.

From Deb - 08/05/2001

Hey Paul,

I have to tell you - I never in a million years expected the little guy to get this far. I'm so pleased! He's so much more active and I swear, he's doubled in size since Tuesday. He's doing well; getting so strong. His left eye wants to open, but it's slow going. He can clean himself and squeaks every now and then. We have really become attached to him. I'm so glad he's survived. I look forward to tomorrow; I hope his eyes will open!

When do I stop rubbing his tummy and bottom? After he goes to solid food? How will I know when he can "go" on his own?

Let's see.... he's a brownish gray, going from gray to brown. His belly is white. His tail is about 3/4 of the length of his body. His eyes haven't fully opened, so it's hard to tell with the size. His tail is the same color as his body, and I think there is some very fine hair on it, but I'm not sure.

I saw a pic this morning of a deer mouse. I thought he might be one of those. I wish I could see a pic of a house mouse, so I could compare. Considering he was found in a campground in northern NJ, I am thinking he must be a deer mouse rather than a house mouse? I might try to get Steve to take a pic of him with the digital camera; do you think you could identify him if we did?

He actually tried to nibble the aspen bedding a little bit ago. That reminds me, in addition to the questions I've asked above, should I get something for him to chew on?

Thanks for everything and let me know,

Deb



From Paul - How's the little one. 08/09/2001

Hi Deb,

I haven't heard from you in a few days. I was wondering how the little guy is doing. I imagine he's a handful by now. He must be well into the hopper stage.

paul



From Deb - Re: How's the little one. 08/09/2001

Paul,

Oh yes... hopper stage it is! But, I swear, he is the cutest little cuss! OK, let me try and tell you what has transpired...

He's attempting solid foods but still wants formula a few times a day. He's not on straight formula any more, rather, oatmeal soaked in the formula. He likes that. He also eats a little of a Grape Nut flake soaked in the formula, too.

He's fond of peanut butter (in small quantities - I know, the fat content; but I think the protein might be good), grapes, sunflower seeds, apple, carrot and raisins. I went to the library yesterday, and read up on mice. I also have a book on order from Amazon, which I hope will give me some insight.

He's now in the aquarium with a little house, water bottle, food bowl, and toilet paper rolls that Steve made into a maze. I had bought a small, metal wheel last week, but I'm afraid to use it, as it is open; I hadn't gotten your email before I rushed out and got it. The tank he's in is 5.5 gallons; I'm afraid there won't be room for an 8" wheel. I guess the solution is to get a bigger tank?

He LOVES to be held; he prefers being in our hand to anything else. He falls asleep in my hand, wakes up, and then goes to Steve's hand and pees. Steve swears mouse thinks he's a heated toilet seat! Another earthy note: his stools have firmed up and look "normal". I don't need to stimulate him anymore; he does fine on his own.

I still don't know his sex; I keep thinking he's a male, but I'm not sure if I can tell for a few more weeks. I think at that time I should take a photo and send it to you so maybe you can help sex him.

He was scratching quite a bit at his head; another person said it was probably mites and not to worry, just to get some meds. I would not know what to get and it seems at this early age, anything of that sort would be lethal? Your thoughts?

His little eyes are open and they are beautiful! Big, round, black eyes, with eyeliner! He was darling as an infant, but I have to say, he grows cuter every day! I am just guessing, but I really believe he has doubled in size since last week! It absolutely amazes me how fast they develop; just think, last week his eyes were closed and he could barely feed from the bottle...

I think I'm in love! He really is the sweetest thing and I only want the best for him. Nature is amazing.

Regards,

Deb

At about 3 weeks old, Annie was ready to take her first real journey.

From Deb - 08/14/2001

Paul,

He's doing so well, that I have to pinch myself every now and then. We got him one of those "balls" that he can go in and roll around on the floor - just loves it! He ate his first whole peanut today and is quite fond of cucumber. I'm sorry I've been so lax...

We are going to a cabin in NW PA Sunday-Wednesday. We are taking him with us because my dumb vet wants to charge us $18 a day for boarding! So, he'll take a five hour one-way drive with us to the mountains.

All you advice has been invaluable to me. Please don't stop!!!!

We hope to get some pics next week.

Best,

Deb



From Deb - 08/25/2001

Paul,

The trip went very well. The mouse did well and I believe was glad to get home to more familiar scents. We gathered some acorns and she seemed to enjoy them.

We think she is a female. Her genitals are very close to her anus, and it appears that nipples are starting to show. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I'm torn about something; should I release her back into the wild? Would she be able to survive on her own? I feel so guilty having her in a cage, when I know that deep down she really is a wild mouse.

Or, if not, should I get her a female companion? Will they fight? How do I introduce them? The last thing I need is another pet, but if I have to keep her caged, I want her to be happy. Would she be happier and healthier back in the wild, alone in her cage, or with another female????

We haven't named her yet, but I'm leaning towards "Annie", as in Orphan Annie.

Please let me know your thoughts. Hope you had a great week.

Regards,

Deb



From Deb - 08/28/2001

Paul,

Today I went to the pet store to do a comparison on mouse breeds. The "fancy" and "common" mice that I saw had much, much smaller eyes that my mouse. I want to say she's a deer mouse, but the lack of hair on her tail makes me wonder. I think her back legs are unusually long and her whiskers are at least 1.5 inches long. She's a medium gray with some brown flecks, white chin and belly. We are still searching for the cable for the digital camera so I can't send a pic. Today she was introduced to brussels sprouts (which she loves), strawberries (ditto), and snow peas and nectarines. This mouse eats better than we do!

Regards,

Deb

At about a month old it was time to determine the little mouse's sex.

From Deb - She's a she. - 08/29/2001

Paul,

Went to the "expert" at the pet store. Well, some expert. She determined right away that our mouse is a female. But then, she spent 20 minutes looking through books to try and figure out what breed of mouse. She has no idea. I really think a deer mouse. I think we will just have to buy a new cable for the camera because this is driving me crazy! Not to mention the 40-mile one-way drive to the pet store!

Deb



From Paul - Re:She's a she. - 08/29/2001

Hi Deb,

Well if the "expert" can't tell a deer mouse, I'm not sure I'd trust her to sex one either. Unlike house mice, deer mice don't "drop" their testicles. Most house mice are very obvious as to their sex, at least by about 6 weeks. It's not as easy to tell with deer mice. I re-sex mine at least 3 times, because as they get older, I find I've made mistakes. It's easier as they get older, but I still have questions about some of mine. At this point sex isn't that important anyway.

Take a look at my web site. Look at the page for "Squeek & babies". The 3rd, 6th and 8th pictures show the bicolored tails pretty well. This might help with the identification. If you hold the cursor over the picture, it will display the pictures name, 3rd: (Circus Trick), 6th: (Climbing to the top and checking out the camera), 8th: (Grouped on the wheel).

paul



From Deb - 08/30/2001


Paul,

She looks identical to your mice except she has no white on the underside of her tail. Maybe that will appear later? I'm hoping she is a deer mouse. The stores I've been to have Egyptian mice, fancy mice, etc. and she's not anything like them. Maybe she's a crossbreed? She does have very fine hair on her tail, but it's gray. I'll stop with the breed identification until we can get a picture to you. Regards,

Deb

By now Annie had grown into a healthy adolescent deer mouse. I've heard how Annie in her ball would follow Deb around the house and come when called, or ride in hammocks that Deb would knit to carry her. A far cry from an orphan discovered in a parking lot.

To find out more about Annie, email Deb Krom.


Annie, age 7 months
Annie, age 7 months

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!
Bucky Goldstein's G.W. Deer Mouse Ranch © paul goodman, 2000 - 2013.