By: Jean Furs
For those of you who might have been curious about the title of this article and decided to open and read it, King Arthur and I thank you. King Arthur of course is what I named the field mouse.
I was scheduled to pet sit in Watertown Connecticut on Thanksgiving Day 2017 and was also hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family later that day at my home. I arrived at my customer’s home and walked thru the door and into the kitchen to start preparing breakfast for my clients pet when I glanced over at the door that I just came into. I noticed something on the floor that seemed to be moving but not in a normal way; not back and forth but up and down. I went over to take a look and was horrified at what I saw. There on the floor was the tiniest field mouse I’d ever seen completely stuck to an obnoxious glue trap. It’s heart was pounding out of its chest and that was the only movement I saw. Its eyes were closed shut like when you are so frightened you can’t look at what’s happening.
Well I went into action and texted the home owner the following. “ Dear _______ your pet is fine. I regret to have to tell you this by text but I found a glue trap [the most inhumane form of animal torture] a regular snap trap kills quickly and does not allow the animal to starve and suffer a slow agonizing death. [Or for you kind humans out there a Have-A-Heart Trap will capture the mouse alive and you can give it a chance to live somewhere else in a country field or forest. This would be my first choice as I don’t believe in killing innocent creatures that are just trying to live]. Yes you caught a field mouse that is suffering. I had no idea how cruel you could be. Although we don’t want mice in our homes we certainly don’t need to make them suffer so horrifically.” The answer I received will surprise you. “Yes I have a mouser miss. Just so you know for the future if you take the mouse outside where they can have something to grab, they pull themselves off the sticky and live.” “I do not want to injure my cat playing with a trap. Thanks for letting me know she didn’t have mouse for Turkey Day.” Then my client actually wished me a Happy Turkey Day to me and my family. My response was “You are dreaming, this mouse cannot release itself.
I went out into my car and got a pair of latex gloves and went back into the house and picked up the glue trap ever so gently as I watched this poor creature suffering with fear. I thought to myself what should I do? I brought it over to the sink and moistened with warm water a paper towel and tried ever so slowly to move it’s head off of the glue without injuring his tiny body. I could do no more here and so I packed him up and took him with me in my car. I put the mouse down on the front seat of my car and turned on the heat full blast. It was cold outdoors and an injured animal can go into shock especially while undergoing the discomfort and stress of being glued to a trap.
I have no idea how long this mouse was on the trap but I wasn’t a minute to soon to spot him and get him help. I drove home glancing down occasionally at this tiny mouse; his eyes were still closed shut with heart pounding. Finally I’m home and I bring him into the kitchen and yell to a family member, “I have an emergency and explained the problem”. We called a 24 hour veterinarian and was told that Dawn dish liquid and warm water would release the mouse. I made a batch of sudsy warm water and Dawn in a bowl. With my gloves on I held the trap and mouse in my hands and ever so gently and slowly poured the solution over his body from his neck down to avoid his head. It took several baths and rinses to release him from the glue trap but it worked without injuring his tiny limbs. After several baths I saw him open his eyes and so I took a paper cup with cool water and held it up to his small mouth and told him to drink. The heavens only know how long he had been without a drink of water and I feared he would be dehydrated. He drank ever so slowly and a small amount; small to me because he was a very small creature but enough for him to regain some strength. He started to move around and I knew he was feeling better and that I’d have to wipe him off and get him to a warm spot.
I carried him with me and got a soft cotton rag and wrapped him up to keep him warm. The difficult part was trying to find a safe secure comfortable place for him to re-cooperate. I found a small plastic bird carrier and put him in that. He was so traumatized that he didn’t try to get out of the air holes which were rather big on the top portion of this carrier. I called a family member who used to rescue turtles and she said I could borrow one of the terrariums that wasn’t being used right now. When the terrarium arrived I put King Arthur into his new holding spot and put him into our unfinished warm basement with a small heater by his side and some un-shelled sunflower seeds, a small bowl of water, a slice of apple with peanut butter, and some fresh romaine lettuce. The first two days he was with us he was quiet and just watched me when I entered the room, but once the food started arriving daily and fresh water he started feeling better and knew I wasn’t going to hurt him. In fact the way he looks at me when I visit him tells me that he knows I saved his life; I’m sure of it. He has the most expressive eyes and when I move he glances back and forth at me. When I speak to him his little ears are so sensitive to sound they twitch ever so slightly back and forth. When I stop talking his ears stop twitching. He sleeps during the day and is awake at night.
There is evidence that he is bored and lonely. I think he wants me to hold him but I’ve decided I don’t want him to become domesticated and don’t want him to get used to humans as most of them aren’t very nice to mice. I will give him his freedom as soon as the warm weather arrives.
Every night at 8 pm I go downstairs with a fresh meal and water and he waits for me. I bought him one of those spinning wheels and he puts on a show for me as he runs up and down and spins upside down when he sees me as if to say thank you for your help. He is the cutest little guy.
Although I know he can’t live with me I feel a tremendous responsibility to keep him safe and well. I’ll find him a safe haven when it’s time to release him, if there is such a thing for a field mouse. So for now King Arthur remains here in my home until which time the warm weather arrives.