Disclaimer: If you are easily offended by sheer honesty, or you think me having my own opinions is "being negative", then this is not the place for you, and I suggest you leave and head elsewhere. I call a spade a spade, and I don't sugarcoat anything.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nurse to A Mouse

I don't think of these mice as pets, but when they have pups and they have some problems, I as an animal lover, would have to interfere. Misty is a young female that I got not too long ago, and she's had a litter before, all of which she ate. So, I tried breeding her again. She was getting big, and I do mean BIG!! For her, any amount of weight is a load, because she is a tiny mouse. I mean, tinier than normal. She is much smaller than any of my other mice. Well, I knew she would be having the pups possibly tonight because she was slowing down today, and I noticed her breathing was getting labored, which happens to all living things when they are about to have babies. I remember that from my days of breeding chihuahuas, I learned to read the signs of labor. They show up just as much in mice as they do in dogs. But you have to know about a mouse's metabolism. Mice always breath fast, but today, Misty was breathing faster than usual.

Well, I left her alone in my bedroom for a while, while I came out to the living room and worked on another story. A couple hours later, I went back into my bedroom and Misty had her babies. She had some in a cluster underneath her, and there were 3 of them that were not under her where they belonged. And 2 of them still had the placenta attached to them. That is not a good sign! They were not moving at first so I thought they were already dead, and I was about to freeze them for my snakes, until I picked them up and they began to twitch their feet and heads. I know Misty is inexperienced, so I had to help her with these babies. When I picked them up they were barely alive, and freezing cold! So I held them in my hand and warmed them up. The babies seemed to appreciate that. Then I had to try and remove the placentas. I was going to get my scissors, but I remember that using scissors for something like that is never a good idea. The baby could bleed to death. I had to figure out a way to simulate Misty cutting the umbilical cord and I thought the best way to do that was with my fingernails.

I had to hold the babies in such a way that I could use my thumbs and index fingers on both hands to cut it. It's tougher than you think! But I managed it, and then both babies were OK. I put them down in the group with Misty's other babies, which were nursing fine. I had to coax them to grab on to a nipple, and coax Misty to lie in such a way that she can nurse them and keep them all warm at the same time. It took her a while to catch on. I thought about putting Melissa, who is a great mommy, in with Misty, but then that might have caused Misty to want to eat her babies like she did last time. So, this time I thought to just help her out until she gets the hang of taking care of her young, and I moved her cage into the living room where I can watch her and see that she keeps doing what she is supposed to be doing. That was 2 hours ago. The babies, I think were about 30 minutes old when I discovered them. Though I cannot be sure, as I didn't see the actual births. And babies, even though they are cold, can last a surprising amount of time with no food or heat from the mother!

Well, now Misty seems to be taking good care of her babies. For the time being anyway. Looking at her right in front of me now, and she has all her young jostling up under her suckling. Even the babies I rescued 2 hours ago seem to be doing fine now. They are all suckling, and she is cleaning them, being an average good mom. I'm just hoping that once my back is turned that she doesn't start eating the babies! Some mice do that when they have other mice in the cage with them. Rats, rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters are exactly the same way. They do it basically to "save" their babies from intruders. Strange as it may sound, it's a defensive tactic for them. Especially if it is a nervous female, as I think Misty is. So, this time I left her in a cage all alone to have her babies.

I know, I've fed young mice to my snakes before, and I could have done it with these 3 babies who were already cold and dying. But that's not how I am. Not that I think of these guys as pets, and basically I did get them just to have snake food available when I need it. But I never take babies away from their mother on the first day. They need to suckle. Especially within the first hour after birth. That's when the mother has the most nutritious milk to give. This gives the babies essential vitamins, which can then be passed on to my snakes. I remember this from my dog-breeding days. No, I never fed puppies to any snakes!!!! I'm not that heartless and barbaric! But the principle of birth, feeding and nutrients is the same. Good thing I still have all this pent-up knowledge! hehe! I need all the baby mice I can possibly get. Gotta keep my snakes well fed. They've all shed now, and for some it's getting close to hybernation time, so they need to be fed and fed a lot! Snakes often stop eating when they are about to shed, and after they shed, they can be hungry as a bear!!

Well, Misty is still cleaning her babies. So, all seems to be well, even now. I think from here on out she's going to be just fine. But I just never thought I would see the day come when I would play nursemaid to a mouse!!

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