Miss Willie Whitefoot is now with me for 10 days. She gets some exercise, during the day, in the bathtub. I have a towel lining the tub, and an old worn tee for Willie to snuggle into, when she wishes a nap. The tub has several grass seed heads, a few white and red clover flower heads, a few walnut pieces, and a plastic bottle cap, filled with water, with her. Willie is learning to explore, so I will today bring in a half log, with a hollowed core, for her, and perhaps a branch or two from an oak tree.
Yesterday evening, we had what was an adventure, but might have easily been a tragedy. I had retrieved Willie from the bathtub, and put her in the breast pocket of the sleeveless tie-front shirt I was wearing. I took a large safety pin, and used it to close the top of the pocket, so Willie could not climb out without my noticing. Or so I thought.
It was dusk, and time to put the horses out for the evening. With Willie secured in my shirt breast pocket, I stepped outside. I walked over to the gate of the horses' paddock, opened it, and noticed that the paddock water trough (an old claw-foot tub) needed water. The paddock does not have a hydrant. The tub is filled by way of a hose that runs, in two sections, from the house exterior faucet, to the tub. At the junction of the two hoses, I have a 'quick connect' fitting, which has a shuttlecock incorporated into its female end (the end on the hose that runs from the house to the junction). The 'house side' hose is always 'active', and the 'tub side' hose is only active when I connect it to the house side hose, and then turn on the shuttlecock. On my way from the paddock gate to the horses' stalls, I stopped and bend down to turn on the hose connection shuttlecock, so the tub could fill whilst I walked to the horses' shed. I then walked to the three stall shed, opened the stall gates, and 'clucked' the horses back outside. (Around here, the horses are allowed to 'free-head-it' to the paddock - they know where they're going, and except for occasional stops to grab a bit of clover from the so-called lawn, they're usually pretty good about going directly out.)
I followed the horses on their way out, and as I passed the hose connection, I bent down again to close the shuttlecock. When I straightened up, I felt something touch my left thigh, at the hem of the shorts I was wearing. Now, around here, there are all sorts of night flying insects and such - and also, the hose junction is near a tree that grows in the so-called lawn, surrounded by a circle of bramble and brush, about 6 feet or so in diameter. So, I barely looked down, before taking my left hand and moving to brush away whatever had touched my thigh. But that 'bare glance' took my breath away! The touch was from Willie! Evidently, the safety pin had not closed the pocket so tightly as I'd thought! I think, when I bent down to the hose, Willie rolled to the top of the pocket, and took hold. She then must have wiggled out of the pocket, and wandered down my shirt and down the top of my shorts! I scooped her up, and closed my fingers around her. I walked to the horses' paddock, secured the gate, and came directly back to the house. If she'd fallen to the ground, it's not likely I'd have found her, in the dusky darkness, as the grass is a bit tall, and the bramble around that tree quite dense. I fear Willie would not have done well; she's a bit too young to be on her own - and a lovely black rat snake is often seen, in that bramble!
I took a photo of Willie, when I got back to the house. She seemed very content to fall asleep in my open palm, against my chest. No more adventures like this, for her!
Last night, for the first time, I left Willie in the bathtub habitat overnight. She did quite well, I believe - but in the morning, she seemed very happy to climb on my open palm, and up my left arm. I carried her around for a while, this morning, but put her back in her tub terrace apartment, when I went outside for a while.
Here she is, in a photo from about 5 days ago, sleeping on the 'shelf' of my bathing suit top. You can see how different was the shape of her head - much more rounded, in the muzzle, even just 5 days ago. You can also see, in the photo above, how her ears are getting larger. 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me ...'
Willie was having some trouble, this morning, with her bowels, again. One of the difficult things about raising these tiny creatures is helping them with 'elimination'. Generally, this function is handled by using a wet tissue or Q-tip, and gently wiping the perianal area. What with the replacement milk making her 'loose', Willie had early on shown some irritation, no matter how gently I tried to stimulate her to urinate and defecate. A few days ago, she seemed so sore that I gently applied a tiny bit of triple antibiotic ointment, using a q-tip. That did seem to help; but a friend, Katie K, questioned the advisability of the ointment, what with its medicinal compound.
Now, however, Willie was not loose, but constipated; quite likely because she's now consuming quite a bit of solid food. There really is no practical way to help by using, say, a suppository, or enema. She's a field mouse. But, I did think of a way to help - and it was amazing how well it worked! I poured a bit of EVOO into a bottle cap, then saturated a 'Q-tip' with the oil, and applied it to Willie's sore looking 'privates'. I figured that the olive oil was likely harmless, to Willie, if she consumed some whilst grooming. Plus, as it happened, I had gotten some of the oil on my finger - and what ho!?! Willie sniffed, tasted, then lapped up the droplet of EVOO! Within just a moment or two, Willie passed the first of some very hard excrement. Not likely from having lapped up some EVOO, but from the softening effect of that which I'd applied to the perianal area. Before 5 minutes had passed, Willie eliminated quite a bit more, and her abdomen lost the bloated look she'd had. EVOO - who would have thought it? I wonder if Rachael Ray would approve? ;~} for final page, click here: