Posts Tagged ‘rodentia’

Personal Miscellany

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The major muscles around my left shoulder — trapezius, deltoid, latissimus dorsi, and especially pectoral — have been hurting a great deal whenever I've moved that arm in the last few days. I hadn't recently engaged in any major physical activity nor been in an accident. I'm wondering whether I've injured a nerve with my back-pack.

On Thursday night or Friday morning, at the Hillcrest CVS/pharmacy, I noticed that bags of pistachios, regulary priced at US$3.99, were on sale for US$4.99 for those with a loyalty card. I brought this problematic sale to the attention of a supervisor, but the offer continued at least through Friday night.

On Friday night, I was walking to my car, when I spotted a feral mouse running ahead of me on the side-walk. All of the feral mice that I'd seen before were wood mice or deer mice, and all back in New Jersey, on property adjacent to woods. Here in San Diego, the only feral rodents that I'd seen were pack-rats (about the size of domesticated hamsters or gerbils[1]). This little creature looked like a house-mouse. At one point, the mouse was cornered in a door way. But, of course, I had no intention of hurting it and wouldn't even have wanted to catch it — it might have pups back in a nest somewhere, and I'd have to worry about the diseases that a wild mouse might carry.

This morning, near my home, I came across a relatively young immigrant man and woman, trying to figure-out how to start her car. They had another car with them. I asked if they needed jumper cables, and the man said yes, so I got mine. (Most people in this area don't have jumper cables; I keep long, heavy-duty cables in my car.) I let the guy do the connecting — I just discreetly watched to ensure that he didn't wire the batteries in series — because I neither wanted to make him seem ineffectual in front of the woman nor wanted to be blamed should something go awry.

He really didn't know what he was doing. He connected the negative line directly to the batteries, repeatedly clacked clamps together as a way of ensuring that the connection to the running car was good, didn't listen to the car that wasn't starting, and didn't seem to understand that a bad battery wouldn't explain the inability to start the parasitic car.

I couldn't hear the solenoid. I tried to explain to them that there was a problem with the ignition or a blown fuse. Anyway, they eventually gave-up on trying to jump-start the car, and returned my cables. I wished them good luck. The car is parked in a metered spot, but they have until 8 AM on Monday before that meter has to be fed.

I have an intermittent, vertical, purple line appearing on the display of my note-book computer. This tells me that the LCD panel, only about a year old, is beginning to fail. Bah!

[1] I'll rat myself out: One night several months ago, thinking that a rodent (which I could not see well) might be an escaped pet, I caught one of those pack-rats with my hat. A neighbor told me that the creature was a rat; it plainly wasn't a domesticated R. norvegicus, so I released it. The Woman of Interest noted to me that I needed to do something about mites and what-not that might have been transferred to the hat. I felt foolish.


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Yester-day, I found a rat's nest under the hood of my car. Literally.

I visited my parents in Tucson from late March until last Tuesday. I parked outside, just off their drive-way, and didn't use my car very much during that time. They live far east of the city center, out amongst the cactus, gilla monsters, and pack rats. I spotted the occasional pack rat under my car, but thought very little of it.

On my way home, I was pulled-over by an officer of the Arizona Highway Patrol, because my passenger-side head-light was out. (He was simply concerned that the problem be addressed, and gave me a written warning rather than ticketting me.) I went to an automotive store on the next day or the day after that, and bought new bulbs. But, when I popped the hood to replace the bulb, I found that the wires to the bulb were frayed and broken. There was nothing there to bang-around. The Woman of Interest suggested that they'd been chewed by a mouse. Rodent damage seemed plausible, and I couldn't think of a good rival explanation. Anyway, I decided that the best way to effect a repair was with a new connector and some butt connectors (metal sleeves, which are in turn ensleeved in plastic, and which are crimped to join wires or cables).

Apparently, I was operating with a sort of tunnel vision when I discovered the chewed wires. Although the rat's nest was quite big, I didn't spot it, sitting on the engine behind the valve cover, until yester-day, as I was effecting the repair. The nest was built of twigs, sticks, and some soft fibrous material. I was puzzled about why I hadn't had an engine fire, until I reälized that the soft fiber was produced by shredding swatches of the hood insulator. That rat really did considerable damage.

None-the-less, its actions weren't malicious, and I rather hope that it either wasn't in the car at all when I was driving, or leapt out before I was going more than a few miles per hour. Otherwise, the pack rat almost certainly was cooked to death or was killed when it hit the pavement. Had it cooked, I probably would have found a body. And if the nest was built between my previous use of the car and when I was loading it to go home, then the rat probably fled as the car shook from that loading.

Empty House

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I went to the La Jolla PetSmart to-day, planning to buy yet another habitat module to include in my mouse complex, and hoping to find the mouse for that complex.

In the event, there were no mice at that PetSmart, and the cashier said that she didn't expect them to get any in the near future, as they have many other rodents in stock. (I'd not bothered to call ahead, as I was expecting to buy a module in any case, and also wanted to stop at the World Market in the same shopping center.)

I did buy a module. I'd originally been thinking of getting another CritterTrail Mini 2, but ultimately decided on a CritterTrail 3, which just provides a lot more space.

Bountiful Rats

Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Pipe Piper Proposal: Berlin's Poor Should Catch Rats, Says Politician in der Spiegel [auf Deutsch ist hier]

A Berlin politician has come under fire for suggesting that poor people should be encouraged to catch rats by offering them €1 per dead rodent.


It's inhuman and cynical to send poor people out to chase rats so that Berlin can solve its rat problems, said the German Forum for People Without Income.

I'm not sure whether das Erwerbslosen Forum Deutschland believes that it is better to pay affluent people than poor people, or believes that die Ratten should be left unmolested. I am, however, sure that, if a €1 bounty is placed on rats, then people will raise rats for the bounty.

Like a real reptile

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I went to various PetCo and PetSmart locations to-day, to get more things for taking care of a mouse. I have or am awaiting receipt of almost everything that I want except for the mouse itself.

While I was at a PetSmart, a girl came over to the area where rodents and birds were kept. Shortly thereäfter, a couple of employees appeared, and told her that they would not sell a rat to her, because they feared that she was going to give the rat to a snake. Apparently she was known to own a snake, and had bought a rat not many days ago. The girl responded with a dubious tale of having given away the snake. She was politely told that no rat would be sold to her. As she was leaving, I thanked the employees.

There was also an older man working there who kept pulling out a picture of his dog to show to people. This behavior was both amusing and charming.

House for the Mouse

Friday, 10 October 2008

The Crittertrail Mini Two that I ordered arrived to-day, as did the two water bottles that I ordered for use with the larger of the two carriers. I am pleased with the way that the Mini Two packs-up for storage or shipment. In any case, I could now in good conscience buy a small rodent, as I have a decent home in which to put it.

(The Mini Two has a handle such that it too could be used as a carrier, but I think that it would be best if the rodent felt that its home were stable.)

Unfortunately, I haven't found a local mouse breeder. I can buy a mouse from one of many pet stores, but I'd prefer to buy one from a breeder, as there are much the same issues with the breeding of exotic pets as with dogs and with cats — inhumane breeders and all that. Which is not to say that I would refuse to buy a mouse from, say, PetSmart, but that at least ceteris paribus I would rather buy from a breeder who allowed inspection of the environment in which the animals were bred and housed.

What harm in a little brown mouse?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Although the rodent that I most want is a fat-tailed gerbil (Pachyuromys duprasi), they are illegal in California. In that context, I have been thinking increasingly of getting a mouse (Mus musculus) for myself.

I have some experience with keeping mice as pets; I had four when I was a teenager — first Aristotle, then Jacques (who was disliked by Aristotle and returned that dislike with hate), then Bob and Ray (brothers who loved each other). The Woman of Interest also had mice when she was a child, and she's offered some helpful advice, from her own experience.

In fact, I've started assembling things so that I will be prepared again to keep a mouse. I got a couple of carriers — one suitable for very short trips, the other large enough to serve as a home for a few days (or longer if the mouse doesn't spend all of its time in it) — a couple of water bottles for the larger carrier, a Silent Spinner wheel, and a clear ball in which the mouse can be placed and allowed to exercise out of the cage.

I still need to settle on whatever I will use as the regular home for the mouse. I like mouse-scaled Habitrails, but I notice that Super Pet (who produced the carriers and ball) makes available many sorts of replacement parts for their habitats, which can be connected to Habitrails.

I also want to have a first-aid kit at hand, though I obviously hope never to need it. And I think that I may get some rodent harnesses, such as those used for laboratory mice, to facilitate airplane travel.