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Stuey's Story
© Vikki, 2002.

From Vikki:

We have a pet mouse, 'Stuey', named after E. B. White's title character who was based on a wild mouse that EB tamed in his youth). She is now 2 years old, but at first her survival was rather uncertain. Our cat brought her to us as a wild baby mouse that was furred but whose eyes were still closed - they opened four days later. When we couldn't find the nest that she had been taken from by our cat, Chomper, I decided to try to keep her alive until she could be released to the wild in our rural area. I tried feeding her a mixture of milks - soy, rice, oat and cow, but quickly learned that calcium fortified rice milk was her favorite. The first night we tried eyedropper feeding, which wasn't very successful. We put her in a cupboard next to the Aga in a very small basket lined with a washcloth over which we positioned a colander. I was much relieved to find her still alive the next morning and tried a different feeding technique - dipping a piece of cheesecloth in the milk and hoping she would suck on it, which she did. Those first few weeks she spent a lot of time sleeping in my left hand (while I tried to get my work done with my right) or shirt pocket and being gently stroked to try to mimic the care she would have been given by her mother. After her eyes opened, we starting offering her more solid food - soaked rolled oats, cooked brown rice, millet, barley, winter squash, apples etc.

She has thrived and is far more endearing than any of us could ever have believed. She is also so tame that when the time came, we couldn't imagine releasing her to the wild. We have since discovered a book on mice as pets which mentions that the White-footed Deer mouse makes a very good pet except that they are very nocturnal.

More than the 'how', you are probably wondering the 'why' of raising a wild mouse, and even my soft-hearted husband was sceptical at first. He was won over one day when he had her out in our small office, where she liked to dig in the dirt of a houseplant and explore my untidy desk. When I came in and sat down on the couch across the room, she raced over and jumped in my hand, as if to say hello, then went back to her explorations. The next day he again was the one to let her loose and again she greeted my arrival in the same way. Despite her size, she is really very much like other pets (tusseling with or chasing our fingers, running on her wheel or around a safe supervised room and performing various acrobatic feats of her own devising, which when they get a laugh or other response from us she repeats many times in succession. And when she has tired of her activity, she curls up in a very small ball next to us on the sofa under a blanket(sometimes with a bit of cotton batting that she has brought from under the sofa, as a pillow) and goes to sleep just like a dog or cat would. Even Chomper has been rewarded for his kindness by the many hours of observing Stuey in her cage - we call it watching 'M (mouse) TV. As two people who would never have considered keeping a pet 'rodent', we have been converted and are sorry to think of the view most people have of mice, especially wild varieties.

To learn more about Stuey, email Vikki.

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