My First Pet was a Field Mouse
I learned at a very early age how to care for my pet mouse. I was raised in a home where animals were welcome, cared for and loved deeply. We had several family dogs, but the first pet to enter our home that belonged only to me, was a mouse. He was a little wild field mouse that my brother caught for me. Many of you have already read about Sylvester in my very first published article, In the House of Sylvestermouse.
This little mouse stole a large part of my heart. He endeared himself to me with his endless antics and constant nighttime escapades. You see, Sylvester was an intelligent mouse and he learned early how to escape from his cage. When the house was dark and everyone was sleeping, he would slip out of his cage and go exploring. As far as I know, he never left my bedroom. I almost always found him in the morning in a box of letters my sister stored under our bed. I am not sure what his attraction was to her love letters, but I know more than one of her letters had the edges eaten off and the little teeth marks were easily identified. He also ate my poetry. His indigestion saved everyone else a lot of heartburn that would surely have been the result of reading my childhood prose.
He also seemed to enjoy frolicking in our closet. I found evidence of his closet explorations so I know he had been there . I tried to explain to Sylvester that he really was safer in his little cage, but he turned a deaf ear to my ramblings and continued with his nightly adventures.
The introduction photo above is a cropped version of this original photo shown here. Many thanks to EMangl for allowing me to use these photos.
Sylvester Mouse Deserved the Best
It was easy for Sylvester to escape his cage, which was nothing more than a glass aquarium. He would simply climb up his water bottle and over the top of the cage. We tried placing a top on the cage, but the wiry little fellow still managed to squeeze out at night.
If you are considering bringing home a mouse for a pet, I highly recommend purchasing the proper mouse cage.
You do need to keep in mind, mice can squeeze into very tiny holes, so make sure the cage wires are close enough together that he can’t slip right out. Otherwise, go with the glass aquarium with a top that can’t be easily pushed off by a little mouse nose. Obviously, you can not entirely seal off the top or the little fellow could not breathe.
Sylvester’s Mouse Bedding
45 years ago, it was not unusual for mouse owners to use shredded newspaper as bedding for their pet. I used shredded wood chips for Sylvester’s bedding. Now you may ask, why shredded wood and I have two answers for you.
1. The Smell
2. The absorbency
I do not remember the brand of wood chips or clippings that I used for Sylvester, but I can recommend using shredded Aspen for bedding. The most common brand of bedding sold today is cedar and it can cause health and respiratory problems for a little mouse, so definitely stick to a non-aromatic wood for bedding in a mouse cage. Also, you and your mouse will be happier if you clean his cage often and give him fresh bedding.
Remember, mice like to burrow and chew. They will ingest or inhale dust and chemicals on their bedding, so ask for your veterinarian’s suggestion for the best mouse bedding. If it is not available in your area, I highly recommend purchasing it online.
Sylvester’s Mouse Fun
I understood that Sylvester was bored in his cage. After all, he had been a wild field mouse allowed to scamper here and there without supervision.
I purchased a running wheel for him to get his exercise. The down side to his running wheel is that is squeaked. He delighted in running at night. We would be sound asleep and what would we hear? Sylvester running a marathon. I believe he knew he was entertaining me, because when he would hear my giggles, he would run faster.
In Addition to Love Letters and Poetry, Sylvester Did Eat Food
Sylvester was a forager. Even though I provided him with a lovely little food bowl, he would dump his food and then dig for a morsel. I never understood this strange habit or need to provide for himself, but I always found it endearing.
It was actually kind of funny to watch him take a bowl as big as himself and dump it’s contents. Then he would scratch and scrap the bedding and act as if he had found some unknown treasure in it’s midst.
Again, I think he might have done this just to entertain me.
A Gift that is a Reminder of the Original Gift and the Giver
Years after my brother caught Sylvester and gave him to me, my brother gave me this pair of earrings. They are obviously very worn now and one eye is missing from one of the mice, but these earrings are still a personal treasure.
They are a beautiful reminder of the original gift of the real mouse and they are also a wonderful reminder of my brother.