Thursday, August 12, 2010

Woo Hoo! We got a couple little girls!!!

As I said before overnight things can change. On the evening of Day 9 I did my daily inspection on the baby mice. I couldn't believe my eyes! I could clearly see little nipples in a row, just as they should be...Clearly a girl! Woo Hoo! One down and 5 more to go. Then I check the second one....A girl! Now my hands start to shake with excitement, although it was shortlived....unfortunately that was it, the other 4 were boys. But hey, that's a couple less cages I'm going to have to get.

The girls~ Lilly on the top and Liesl on the bottom.

The boys~The one with the white diamond on his head is Jonas named by our 6 yr. old granddaughter. I'm waiting on the 3 yr old granddaughter's contribution now before naming any of the others.

I've tried handling them to get them use to human touch not only for myself but also for any potential adopter. Haha...I say that like I'm actually hopeful of finding any homes for these guys even though I've had almost no interest in them. A woman I met said her teacher husband might be interested for his classroom however that was a couple weeks ago and I've heard nothing.

I even showed pictures to a few teen boys at church and they just got a questioning look on their face as they wrinkled their noses & said, 'they just look like mice" and walked away..My response to them was, "and you call yourself BOYS?! You're suppose to love stuff like this"Tell me WHO wouldn't think these little faces are sweet?!

So I have just kept plugging along preparing for having a total of FIVE cages (that's 2 better than 7!!) in a room that's already cramped. The cages thus far have been donated to the 'cause' although I've had to buy screened lids for them..not to mention 'stuff' to go inside the cages. UGH!

I've also had to improvise since the biggest tank that will go to the 6 girls would not clean up to my satisfaction. So I painted it faux stained glass to cover up the unsightly stuff. For the first time using this medium I was pleased with the results although I doubt the girls will care or even notice.

By Day 15 the babies were starting to open their eyes. They also like crawling out of the nesting box but they didn't venture far. That was about to change!

Day 16 they all had their eyes open and they started 'popcorning' as they entered the 'flea' stage..This makes it VERY difficult to handle them. That is IF you can even get hold of them because they are sooooooooo fast. Have you ever seen a flea jump? That's exactly how they are if you're able to pick them up. They are so fast and jump without regard to safety! Yikes! They run hither and thither between the little buildings in the cage.

Needless to say, it's next to impossible to get much in the way of pictures now either, unless they are sleeping. Which by Day 17 they were ALL found piled up sleeping in the hanging zebra bed! Oh yes, all 10 are in there piled high on top of one another. It's got to be hot in there with all that body heat too!

At the age of 28 days the boys will have to be separated from the girls, so they only have a week left all together. Although I certainly didn't really want nor plan on this little adventure of mouse rearing, these little creatures surely have given us some quiet 'down' time added to our otherwise chaotic life. Taking a few minutes here and there to watch them has been plain old fun. And they've given us chuckles and outright laughter along the way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I wonder, I wonder...

With each day that passes you never know what you'll see with these little ones. One day they don't have fur and the next day they do.

Here they are at 6 days. All soft and peach fuzzy.

It's been fascinating watching this little mouse community. If people could just take a lesson from them. It didn't take long for me to notice that at any given time either Mama Skunk or one of the 'aunts' as I've come to call them (partly inspired by a friend's own 4 aunts that lived together but also just based on my own observations of them) were with the babies in the nesting box. They took turns babysitting. And I noticed that Skunk was given a break from them to come out and eat for herself, take a jog on the wheel and get some much needed sleep in the zebra hammock.

I wait each evening til Mama Skunk and the 'Aunts' are out of the box before looking in on them. The adults are oblivious to me really. They are more concerned with having a good time. No kidding, observing them, they really don't seem all that different than people. They need to get away from the kids and cut loose too!

There've been times I've looked into the box and Moo was 'nursing' the babies! I don't know if she'd spontaneously produce milk for them or if it was just to comfort them while Skunk was out. I've not been able to find the answers to that in my research, but I thought it very sweet all the same. Moo was the midwife during delivery & that first whole day, don't ya know.

I did notice too that I never saw Halo go in to the box to see the babies or to babysit. I wonder if the others felt the same as I projected, she was just a little too crazy and irresponsible for such a job? Maybe she was nervous? Can you just hear a little mouse saying in the southern accent of Butterfly McQueen in Gone with the Wind, "I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no babies!" After about a week though I finally saw her going in...I think she may have had some scrambled egg in her mouth for a baby gift..(just kidding) I'll be curious to see how she reacts when the babies start crawling out on their own.

I've totally depressed myself too. I've tried 'checking' over the little ones trying to figure out what they are. This is no easy task when they are this little and add to that, you don't know what you're doing. LOL No it's NOT obvious and all their little parts are miniscule!

They are very hard to hold and most of them aren't very cooperative. They don't like being turned over on their backs...then for me to try and scrutinize their little bottoms...forget it! Keep in mind too I wear bifocals which don't help me at all. Talk about trying to find a needle in a haystack?! I actually have to take the glasses off and look real close...good grief! I feel pathetic! With them wiggling around so much, I'm afraid I hurt them...I end up breaking out in a sweat until finally I give up.

At this point, I don't see any signs of nipples on them (my only true sourse of sexing them & a sure sign of them being girls cause the boys won't have them at all) and am fearful. The reason being, boys tend to be territorial and will fight with each other. There's a good chance they'd have to have a cage all their own...while the girl babies can live with their mama and aunts with no problem. If all 6 are boys, I wonder if the dear husband would mind building onto the house so we have enough room for 7 mouse cages? What do ya think? LOL!

Here they are at day 8 all furry.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Special Delivery

It's been interesting watching Skunk prepare for her new arrivals. I bought a wooden box with a cutout door in the front, that I hoped she'd use as a nesting box. The ceramic shoe already in the cage has a hole in the bottom and I could just imagine picking that up & having babies fall out! Not good.

I bought special fluffy cotton that I put in in hopes she'd use it as nesting material. Numorous times I saw her moving bedding around here and there but she really didn't seem to know what she was doing with it.

Then on July 21 at 8 am while working on the computer, I heard a squeaking! OMG! It's time! I tried to give her 'space' not staring at the cage (they say this can stress them out and they might hurt the babies) After an hour or so I tried to peak in the open door of the nesting box (which looks like a flat pyramid) I could see two little pinkies in there!! "Oh maybe that's all she'll have", I was thinking ....AND desperately hoping....

I have to add at this point, that during this time, Chigger & Moo were in the nesting box with Skunk. I called them her nursemaids. Halo however stayed outside the box running on the wheel as only Halo can do. Maybe she was pacing with worry? Actually I think of her kinda like that crazy, eccentric Aunt that everyone loves but she has the smell of too much perfume with a dab of medicinal brandy on her.

As I was hoping to get a picture of the pinkies through the door without disturbing anyone Chigger happened to see me looking. She walks out of the box with such purpose that I laughed out loud. As she stood on the outside by the door, she very strategically pushed bedding with her front paws, sometimes carrying some in her mouth too, TOTALLY barricading the open door, so that I couldn't see in! I couldn't believe it! And then after her job was done, she very innocently ran up into their hanging bed in the corner with Halo and went to sleep.

So within a mere 7 days from the time I saw Skunk's belly growing, we had a special delivery. Later in the day, I was able to very briefly lift the box to do a head count & to be sure everyone was ok.

Here they are four days old. I hadn't taken any pics the first day cause I was too nervous and didn't want to upset Skunk. Just picture them 4 days smaller which at this age is major!

Whew! There were only SIX! Now I was anxious to know if they were boys or girls!!!!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You're kidding right? NO, please tell me NO!

Remember those sweet little innocent mice I brought home on July 1? Uh-hem (clearing throat) well, on July 14th I noticed a change in Skunk's body shape. Just the day before I'd commented that we had nearly "made it". Even if one of the girls had gotten impregnated on the day I bought her she'd give birth by July 22 at the latest...Mice have a 21 day gestation period.
We were close but that only counts if you're playing horseshoes. I feebly hoped that perhaps she was just gaining weight with all the good food I was giving them. (hmmm flashback that SHE'S the one that quite easily takes food from my hand...well, duh, how many pregnant mother's DON'T eat all the time?!) But with each day it was apparant that she was going to have babies. From all the research I did, it confirmed that during the last week before delivery they would get the look of having swallowed a ping pong ball. Yep, that about sums it up.
But having her pregnant wasn't the scary part. What really got me was that she could have up to 20 little cherubs!! Uh-oh!! We might need to get a bigger cage!