Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Short and Tragic Life of Sophia S. Mouse

I have done stupid things in the name of helping an animal in the past.  Most of my mistakes have a happy ending.  Once, when I was working for a cat clinic in San Diego someone dropped a kitten off in a box on the clinic's front porch.  I opened the box and found a tiny kitten with deformed eyelids.  The veterinarian I worked for told me the kitten had probably been burned by a horrible person.  I called the news and ended up telling the kitten's sad tale that night during the six o'clock news hour.  The news segment had people outraged at such cruelty.  Phone calls came pouring in the clinic the next day.  One phone call was from a very annoyed veterinary ophthalmologist who informed me the kitten had a fairly common birth defect of the eyelid.  After people were done being angry with me, the kitten (Mr. Magoo) received free eye surgery and a wonderful new home.

I have yet to find the silver lining in the sad tale I am about to tell.  Glenn stepped on a nest of three mice last Saturday while building an enclosure for the goats.  A mother mouse and one of her babies scurried away.  One baby received the brunt of Glenn's boot and lay in the dirt, too injured to move.  Glenn called me and Oliver up to the wood pile to check on the mouse.  There we found Sophia and decided to take her inside.
Sophia's mouth was filled with sand and her nose was bloody.  I told Oliver I didn't know what to feed a baby mouse.  He suggested, "Your milk and cheese!"  I cleaned out the mouse's mouth and read online that human formula is often used to supplement abandoned mice.  I took Oliver's suggestion and pumped some milk into a syringe.  To my surprise, Sophia drank my milk and seemed to perk up.  We fed her every couple of hours and kept her warm.  We didn't expect her to make it over night, but she seemed even healthier in the morning.  I guess because I was keeping her alive with my own milk, I started to become very attached to dear Sophia.

I did more research and read that a nursing mother mouse will often nurse abandoned pups.  I wanted so much to see Sophia curled up against a mother mouse, rather than curled up alone in Oliver's sock.  Oliver, Pearl and I went to a local pet store on Sunday to try and find a mother for Sophia.  On the way we saw a double rainbow and thought it was a good omen.  We found several mice working as wet nurses at the pet store.  We took home a pretty mouse we named Rainbow.  
I cautiously introduced Rainbow to Sophia.  All seemed well and Rainbow even let Sophia nurse.  My heart was full as I went to bed because Sophia was being cared for by an experienced mother.

Throughout the night, Rainbow was a caring, nurturing mother.  Glenn checked on the pair at 6:30 in the morning and found Rainbow grooming Sophia.  Then at 7:30, I walked in to the bathroom to find a scene so horrific, it made the face removal scene in The Silence of the Lambs seem like a comedy.  I found Rainbow cleaning her bloody whiskers, standing over the back half of Sophia's body.  SHE ATE MY BABY.  

I kept thinking, a good person would keep Rainbow and give her a good home.  Then I would walk over and look at Rainbow and relive the terrible scene.  I knew I couldn't keep her and accept the fact that she had eaten my adoptive child.  I drove back to the pet store with a pit in my stomach and returned her to the life of a wet nurse.  

I guess not all stories have a happy ending.  As my husband says, "You save a cat, it eats a lot of mice; you save a mouse it gets eaten by a mouse."  So true and so wise.  There are lessons to be learned at every turn.   


  1. You made a huge effort when most of us wouldn't. Sophia appreciated your efforts, I'm sure.

  2. Aww sorry you had to witness that.
    Your heart was in the right place though.

    I had something similar happen to me with hamsters .... but it was the female that ate the male after giving birth. I didn't know you should separate them. As you say it was a horrific scene!!!

    I'll bet this was one lesson that could have been done without though, eh?

    Bless You Dear Heart and Oliver too...he looks so loving and kind in the photo holding the baby mouse and feeding it. What Dear Children you have!

    Blessings to You and Family...

  3. Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry!! It sounds like you did everything humanly possible (i.e. giving your own breast milk!) to keep little Sophia alive. She will be fondly remembered even by those who never met her in person. Our condolences go out to your whole family.

    Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

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  5. Oh no. I don't know if I ever told you the story about when we had the two pet hamsters in my elementary school classroom (maybe around second grade). Suffice it to say, when I checked on them first thing one morning, the ending was much the same. The scene of bloody carnage is seared into my memory. Poor Sophia. Take home message: you're much better off breast-feeding an injured mouse yourself. At least you'll know for next time...