Dolly (foreground) and Holly consider making a break for freedom after “The Big Hand” opens a cage door for them.
Those of you who have been reading this column (all two of you: Marlene and Mark) for some time now probably remember that I got my first dog about a year or so ago. Indeed, “Gladys,” a (very) spoiled black-and-white rat terrier mix, is the first “real” pet I’ve ever had (I had an aquarium briefly while in grade school, but all the fish died after just a few weeks).
Well, I’ve upped the ante a bit. You see, JulieAnn (my significant other) has a number of toads and frogs. Because of this, we’re constantly going to pet stores to buy live food (they won’t eat dead insects, they prefer live crickets) and accessories for them, which are typically designed more to impress the pet owner than the pet. This reminds me of kids who are dying to open their presents on a birthday or Christmas/Chanukah–only to end up playing with the boxes and wrapping paper–because pets are usually more impressed with something simple and inexpensive.
Case in point: after spending a small fortune in chew toys for Gladys, I finally learned (quite by accident) that she LOVES to chew hooves–which cost a few dollars for a decent-sized bag–and could care less for rubber or plastic chew toys.
Anyway, back to my story. All those visits to the pet store for JulieAnn’s amphibians were somewhat boring for me until… I discovered the mice. We’d keep going back to the same pet store and I’d keep being fascinated with the mice they had for sale. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s because they’re smaller than gerbils and hamsters, or their coloration is “fancier” (hence their being referred to as “fancy mice”), or what. I just found them irresistibly adorable. And I knew I wanted mice.
So, in typical fashion for me, I did tons of research on the topic and–just in time for my birthday–I went out to get some pet mice as a gift to myself.
One thing I had learned was that mice are social (interestingly, so are most species of frogs and toads) so right away I knew I had to get two or more. I didn’t want to get too many, but at the same time, I didn’t want to buy several and leave just one all alone in the cage at the store.. So I was somewhat flexible regarding the number of mice I’d get. And as it turned out, there were just two left the day I went to buy my mice. So I took both home.
“Holly” and “Dolly” are sisters. They’re adorable as heck. I enjoy watching them race on their exercise wheel, and run off into opposite corners when I give them a treat (they LOVE Cheerios, the breakfast cereal–no word on milk though). When I approach their cage, they’ll run up to greet me, and when I open the door, they’ll run out onto my hand. I love picking them up, taking them with me to the couch as I watch TV, and having them run all over my arms, shoulders, etc.
Fortunately, JulieAnn likes the mice too. Except for when they kick their bedding (wood shavings) out of the cage and make a mess. Needless to say, the vacuum cleaner gets a LOT more usage these days.
Thinking of mice for the kids? Please read this first!
If, after reading this article, you’re thinking of getting your children mice (or other small pets), please DON’T. At least not unless your children are older and responsible.
Although they’re very cute and kids love them, mice and other small animals are a HUGE responsibility and they’re more delicate than larger pets (such as a dog or cat). It’s a LOT of work to clean out their cage (I do it weekly and trust me, I SO do NOT look forward to spending my Saturday afternoons doing this, but I must if I want Holly and Dolly to stay happy and healthy). And they have to be fed and given water daily.
Younger children tend to be impulsive and may want a mouse, hamster or gerbil after seeing them in a store. But remember: they’re living beings, very smart and curious. It takes a lot of work to care for them. And they have short lives (about a year or so). Get your kids a toy instead–after they’re bored with the toy, it won’t need to be fed or cared for.