The bad news – my muse died. The good news – I have three more.
What am I talking about? Okay, so you can’t say I’m weird (even though I am quite aware that I am, I just don’t want to hear it).
So about 4 months ago, my son caught a wild mouse. Worried about disease, biting and other wild animal ailments, I told him there was no way we were keeping it. He let it go willingly, obviously knowing that I was right. I promised him I would consider buying a mouse, that it might be a good pet. So I researched and it seemed that a pet mouse would be perfect for our family.
The next day, I went to the pet store with my one daughter that was off school for break already, and found the mice. There were three little mice running around in there, and we chose two immediately. Feeling slightly guilty about leaving one in there by herself, we decided to take her too. So the guy scooped all three out of there, and popped them into a box for us. As we were turning to walk away, there was one last little nose poking out of a hideout, and we realized that there was one more in there. Worried about how much work it would be to care for four mice, let alone three mice – I asked the guy what his take was on how they would do together in the cage, would they get along, would it be harder to clean the cage, etc. So fast forward. We brought all four mice home with the reassurance that they would do okay together and that since they were girls they were less territorial. Good.
We’ve had the mice for about four months now, and when we put them in their huge aquarium, we wound up putting it on my writing desk (because there was no other surface). So immediately, I dubbed the little gals, my muses. I would talk to them sometimes when I was writing at the desk and twice I actually wrote them into a piece I was working on. They were quickly acclimated to the noises of a house with five kids and four yappy dogs and loved to be handled – Oreo (pictured above) will crawl right into your hand. Honestly, they have been easy pets, sweet and wonderful and I did not ever think I would own mice as pets – but they really aren’t that hard to care for. I don’t know that I would get four again, but they have been enjoyable.
So this morning, I decided it was cage clean out day. I have been in Spring Cleaning mode for the past couple of days and this just seemed like another thing I needed to do now, and not wait for the weekend. I would imagine you can see where this is going.
We have two aquariums, that we switch between when cleaning the other one. When it’s time to clean the cage, I get the other one ready, soak and then wash off all their toys, fresh food, fresh water in fresh bowls and voila – a brand new home. This way, while I’m busy cleaning their other house, they are busy getting the new clean one all in order (mice are very domestic I tell ‘ya). Call it a vacation home. I don’t know. It just works.
One of the things we do is give them toilet paper rolls, small boxes and other items to create little homes in. This was the advice the pet guy gave us – give them as many separate places to hide, so they don’t feel cramped. Apparently it is to keep any territorial issues at bay. Gotcha. The funny thing is, they typically choose to nestle all together in one place, but still I continue to collect small boxes, toilet paper rolls, paper towel tubes and cleaned out cans and yogurt containers for them to hide in.
This morning, after scooping two of the mice that were happily munching on some food and easy to scoop at that moment and placing them happily in their clean vacation home, I lifted one of the boxes. There, next to a slightly startled mouse (she was sleeping and I wound up waking her up), was a dead mouse.
She hadn’t been dead too long, I won’t go into gory details, but regardless, she was clearly not alive.
I still had one kid at home and not on the bus as I made my discovery. I didn’t want to alarm her, or make her think about it all day, so I simply grabbed an old check book box and placed the “sleeping” mouse inside (after finding something to scoop her out with because I’m not touching her).
I taped it all up, and set it outside on the patio. I even made a little index card ‘plaque’ with her name. Latte. It is waiting for them to all return home at the end of the day, because I know my kids and they will want to bury her. Yes, even my two 15 year olds will feel strongly about that. So I am assuming this afternoon, my muse will have a proper funeral. At least I know my 12 year old will say a prayer and possibly even quote a bible verse (she’s done it for more tadpoles, frogs, and dead birds that I can count since she was about 4). I have strange kids, but they have good hearts.
So alas, one of my muses has died. Is this a sign I’m supposed to read into? And now I am worried about why she died. Did she have a disease that the rest of them could catch? Did she die of natural causes? I have no idea. But to play it safe, I put them in the new cage with ALL new stuff and will be cleaning everything in bleach water from the old cage. One of the other muses seems a little off, but the other two seem fine. Do mice mourne? Maybe she is just sad?
At any rate, it’s sort of a sad day. I’m kinda of glad we found our baby turtle the other day. That might be our only saving grace from hours of tears tonight. Yes, all over a mouse. And a muse.