Orphan mouse

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Orphan mouse Empty Orphan mouse

Post by Birgha on Tue 30 Jul 2019, 8:28 am

Today (July 30, 2019) is day 5 of our fostering an orphan mouse that we found in the middle of our downstairs living room. Originally we thought it was a deer mouse, but it doesn't have the characteristic two-tone tail; instead, it is uniformly gray both above and below. The mouse's body is mostly gray, with lighter gray/white underneath. We haven't been able to find a nest and suspect it fell through a crack where the ceiling meets the brick wall that houses our fireplace. In any case, when we found it, it was cold, lethargic, and "wilted." We've since nursed it back to health with advice from our local vet.

We estimate that it was approximately 10-14 days old when we found it, based on research into mouse growth stages. Its eyes are open, ears are standing out from its head, it's fully furred, and now that it's recovered, it jumps around like popping popcorn. Our daughter has handled and fed it regularly, letting it play in the bathtub after feeding. It has only nibbled her, never bitten, and only when she's had formula on her fingers. I don't handle the mouse myself, but I've been taking turns with my daughter to keep it fed through the night, and it readily comes to the syringe for its formula. We expect to start weaning by introducing more solid foods later this week.

Now for my question: How great a service will we have done for this mouse if we turn it out into the wild after having cared for it through this much of its early life? Is it reasonable to expect that it will be able to care for itself? Would it be more cruel to keep it in a cage than to release it to whatever fate awaits it outdoors? If we release it, is there a time crunch -- meaning that we live in central Illinois; is there a certain amount of time that it would need to get ready for winter?

I'm not looking for an excuse to keep it; I'm truly most concerned about the wellbeing of this mouse. Our daughter has, of course, become very attached to it, but that is not a good reason for keeping an animal confined if it would be better off free.

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