Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pepper the Wonder Mouse


I know it seems silly. To get attached to a mouse that is. It kinda falls into the category of why do we as humans, do the weird things we do?

I mean, it's weird in my opinion, to dance. Not that I don't like it, I do. But to hear music and wildly fling our arms and legs about. That's weird. And to eat squid. Who looked at that slimy bastard laying on a beach 10,000 years ago and said "I'm gonna eat that"? He didn't even have batter to dip it in first.

So yes, taking in a creature that at some point in history, was wild, and caring for it as much as you'd care for your own young, seems so "weird" in theory. Dogs, cats, birds and some people even a monkey or some odd reptile. Even a rodent.

In April of 2008, Tanner had it in his head, that he wanted mice. No idea why, he just did. At first I told him no, that we had enough to take care of, and he's not here all the time, it's something else for me to take care of. But then we made the mistake of going to Petco and looking at the tanks full of little mice and I got melty and caved. In fact, I told him that if he bought *everything else*, I would buy the mice, and they would be his Easter gift.

So he found a 10 gallon aquarium, some bedding, a waterer, some feed and a wheel. He was out around $30. I was out around $5. I got a good deal.

The truth is, we saved these mice lives. You see, when you buy a mouse at a pet store, most of the time it's true purpose is to be a feeder mouse. These little mice were destined to be snake food. In fact the "sales" lady tried to talk us out of them. She made a couple statements about how they were dirty and peed on everything. How they wouldn't be social because they were "only feeder mice." I don't know exactly what she wanted us to do.

Buy a snake I guess.

We took home 2 little mice. One was white, and one was black. It took him a few days, but he picked some obvious names - Salt and Pepper. They lived happily in their cage for a while, but soon the little super friendly white one, got a hot spot. Sometimes they get these from too much protein in their diets. We cut her back to more veggies and less nuts. The hotspot went away, but soon she didn't make it.

We tried a couple more cagemates for Pepper, but if they are not the same age, they tend to fight, so over time, we ended up with two cages, and two mice. Oreo being the younger mouse.

Pepper lived alone now, and all the sudden her personality started to show. Before, Salt was the active one, always wanting attention by running up your arm. Now it was Pepper's turn. She slowly became accustomed to us, and stopped pooping every time you picked her up. (yes, yuck). Sometimes I'd let her play on my desk for a while while I scrapbooked. actually, I'd watch her and not scrapbook to make sure I had no surprise chocolate "drops" on my desk.

(Oh stop, it's not that gross.)

She was pretty good at playing hide and seek too. If you peeked into her cage, you would be unable to find her. Once you cave and open the cage, you'd realize that she was sitting on top of the water bottle. (She learned this from Salt).

Pepper never had a proper "house" to hide in and sleep. When we had to split cages, we just put her rolly ball in there without a lid. She seemed to love it and make the snuggliest nests. Oh once in a while she'd make a pile in a corner or she'd hide out in her paper towel tube, but mostly she slept away her days in the red rolly ball.

I would check on her frequently to see what she was up to and to get her to wake up, I would gently blow through the top of her cage (screen) into the ball, then listen.


She would feel the breeze and wake up, crawl out to visit me. I would feed her and because she was so sweet, I'd give her extra peanuts (her favorite) and watch her crack them open in the corner of the cage.

Sometimes we'd pick her up, and put her to our ear. She would "tell stories" which were sniffs, grinding and grunting type noises. To make Tanner laugh, I'd pretend like she was telling me he'd done something mean to her, but mostly I liked how her whiskers tickled my ears.

A few months back, her eye all the sudden looked sore. It got worse and worse until it was swollen shut. We started to worry and some research lead to the info that this was common in mice. I happened to have some amoxicillian, so I would give her a tiny bit in her water. Over a few days, it would clear up. Then a few weeks later, it would come back again. Sometimes she could not see out of the sore eye at all, you could tell by the way she held her head.

At one point, Pepper was completely blind. She couldn't get out of her ball and find her food, so I moved it to the opening of the ball for her. She was so weak that she could no longer crack her peanut shells, so I would crack them for her. I gave her some more medicine, and crossed my fingers she'd make it until Tanner got back.

She always did! She always got better.

Her eye however, was sore so many times that over time, it seemed to be permanently scarred. Despite that, she always seemed happy, and friendly.

Last week, Tanner was gone to Upward Bound. Normally he would have been here every day since school was out, but instead, I picked him up on Friday around lunchtime. We got home around 1:30, and later that afternoon, Tanner brought Pepper out for a visit like he always does. We pet, and I tugged her tail like I always do when I tell her that she has a "pretty tail". We do an eye inspection, it looks like it usually does and she seems healthy otherwise and happy.

About an hour later Tanner comes out of his room into the kitchen and says. "Mom... Pepper died."


"She died."

And she did. Poor little pepper was gone. One minute she's acting like everything is completely fine, and the next she's just gone.

There's part of me that wonders, if little creatures like that have abstract reasoning and she waited to see Tanner one more time. Maybe that's my wishful thinking, or maybe it's not. Either way, I'm glad we both got a chance to say one last little goodbye.

My biggest regret over it all, is that she didn't have any peanuts. The new food I bought her didn't have them, and I had noted this a few days before, and promised that I would get her some.

2.5 years is old for a mouse. In fact, in people years she was probably in her 90's. But it still seems strange for her to go "so quickly".

I still sit around and wonder why people do the strange things they do. Dancing at the club, eating squid, or getting attached to a silly little mouse.

But we did it anyway, despite it being weird.

Bye little mouse.
You were a good mouse.


gowestferalwoman said...

:( But pepper is with salt now! she just wanted to say bye/love you to Tanner! Good mouse!

Now get that boy a horse! ;)

Toni Alexis said...

Aww Lana, that is so sweet. Poor Pepper. I've always wanted a mouse. My Dh says NO! My cats say YES! I'll have to wait til my Dh leaves me and my cats run away. Ha!

LisaDay said...

I am sorry to hear about Pepper. And I am glad you both got to spend some time with her before she died.


Heidi said...

Ah. I'm sorry. She sounds like she was a sweetheart to have around and why we get attached to our pets no matter how large or small I have no idea, but I think it comes from our need to be loved unconditionally. They need us. :) And we need them more.

Tracy said...

Aww so sorry about Pepper. I do understand how you felt about this little rodent. You see we too have had mice as pets. We got them from the school. I guess the 1st grade teacher put a boy and girl together and they made other mice teehee. So we volunteered to keep some.
Our little guy had the eye thing too, we just thought he poked himself.

Lana said...

Thanks everyone, you are all so sweet and totally didn't diss the crazy mouse lady! lol.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

She looks like such a sweet pet. I am sorry for her loss. Stopping from SITS!

BK said...

Awh... I love your writing style! I had a hamster a couple years ago (wow, more like 5-6 years ago) he was so much fun! He too died, after I think about 3 or 4 years.

Genevieve Le Bel said...

Awww... :-(
It's not silly at all. I'm so sorry.

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