Friday, July 18, 2008

Baby mice at the barn

Like pretty much any barn, ours has a healthy mouse population. Not ridiculous amounts of mice, mind you — but we definitely have them.

The other day, Karen and the new manager, Cat, were moving hay from the hay barn into the feed room. In the back of the hay barn, nestled in between hay bales that hadn't been moved in a while, they found a litter of tiny baby mice.

The mice were quite young, perhaps newborn, as their skin looked like a slug's — grayish pink, hairless, and slightly slimy-looking. Their eyes were still closed; their skin was a little translucent, so you could see small dark inkspots underneath each eyelid.

Cat picked the mice up and put them in a feed bucket, which she and Karen then put up near the house. I was rather bothered by the whole thing, so after Cat left, Karen and I put the baby mice back in the hay barn. The bales of hay were gone, of course, but we made a nest with wood shavings and put them as close to their original nest as possible. One had died and the other five were cold to the touch, so I put them all together in the hopes that they'd keep each other warm until their mother found them.

In the morning when Karen looked for them, the mice were gone. There was no blood and guts, and the nest we'd made didn't look like it had been disturbed by a large animal or anything, so we're hoping the mother came back for them and moved them elsewhere (rather than them getting eaten by an animal of some sort).

Animal lover that I am, I don't believe in killing animals — and that goes for mice, too. After all, they don't bother the horses — they come out to forage for leftover grain and hay, but otherwise they keep a low profile. Therefore I am a big supporter of natural, creature-friendly ways of controlling pests. I'll talk about some ideas for (nicely) controlling a mouse population in a future post.

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