Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meet the mice: Malkovich

Malkovich was born as a feeder mouse, but then he was given up for adoption at the shelter. It often happens that people start breeding mice for their snake and don't think about how fast mice reproduce and how little snakes eat. Breeding mice, even if it's only as feeder mice, takes a lot of thought and room and I will never get why people who spend tons of money for their snakes and do everything for them are content to let the mice live in tiny cages with no consideration for their wellbeing. Yes, they are food, but that's no reason to treat them like things.

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apologies for the bad quality, he isn't one for posing for the camera...

So Malkovich wasn't to be eaten, but the shelter was swamped with about 80 mice, all of them pink eyed white - the kind most people don't want. The majority were males and that means a garlic-y and really pungent smell as well as bloody fights for territory. The shelter doesn't have the vet manpower to neuter mice and so after a while they had to separate the males. Many found new homes, some died and 20 or so stayed, alone in their cages for more than a year.

The rodent rescue organization I volunteer for finally got a big donation and we could get all the mice, neuter them and find new homes for them. I picked Malkovich for myself and nocticed right from the start that he was afraid of being touched and that the fear made him aggressive. He just wasn't used to any contact after spending such a long time alone - a year for a mouse is about 30-40 years for us.

After neutering, I tried to introduce him to the group and at first everything seemed fine. For about five minutes. Then Ood tried to say hello and Malkovich freaked, he just didn't know how to react to Ood touching and smelling him. He bit Ood and then started to run after all the other mice, nipping and jostling them. This was clearly not working.

Malkovich needed to learn again how to be a mouse and I decided that he needed a teacher. Susan StoHelit, an older female who was about the only one not scared of him, was the obvious choice and they moved into a big tank and stayed there for a few weeks. Malkovich at first ran after Susan all the time and tried to pick a fight, but she just ignored him. After a while, he noticed that Susan was a female and fighting was the last thing on his mind. I walked in on them, Susan calmy eating a sunflower seed, totally igoring the fact that Malkovich was busy mating with her (neutered mice can still mate, just not produce babies).

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Susan

By now, Malkovich still isn't comfortable around humans, although he will take treates from my hand - that's also something he learned from Susan, who is pretty tame. But he is very comfortable around other mice and the second introduction into the group, abou two months after the first, went without problems. Here he is cuddling with Ood (black) and Isgrimnur (pied):
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