Posted by: ktzefr | April 11, 2019

3 True Stories of Homeless Mice…and the importance of brain size

A mouse brain weighs 0.4 grams.


This mouse came all the way from Oaxaca, Mexico, but I don’t think he’s going to be causing any trouble. Photo:KFawcett


Time to uncover the barbeque grill and cook in the sun.  But there, beneath the metal grill, in a corner spot nestled away from the wind and cold — a mouse nest.

I clean it out and light the fire, send the burners blazing, scorching off any last remnants of mouse debris.  

Tonight, when the mouse returns, I’ll be inside reading or watching television.  I will have eaten well, the grilled steak or chicken or pork.  I’ll curl up beneath the covers when the temperature falls like it does every night in spring.

But what will the mouse do?  Where will he sleep tonight?

I think about people returning to their homes after a tornado or hurricane or flood and searching through the debris for the smallest memento of a life that has suddenly disappeared.  Perhaps the mouse is lucky to have a brain too small to hold so many memories.  

A mouse brain weighs less than half a paper clip or half a thumbtack.


One morning in autumn…

The dashboard on the car lit up all across, sending a warning to check this and that and something else.  Blinking lights indicated that everything was wrong.  

What on earth?

We had it towed to the shop.  It would take some time.  They would call.

A few hours later…a text message with a photograph.  The mechanic had popped the hood and found —

A mouse nest!

It was a condo or a castle, a place for an extended family.  No mice were home, but they’d been there on cold winter evenings, apparently arriving from the outdoors when the car engine was still warm from the long commute home.    

The photograph revealed that the mouse family had chewed their way through every wire and cable and hose beneath the hood, cutting all connections to build their private passageways from here to there.  One thousand dollars later…

I looked out the window at a back yard strewn with the last of the autumn leaves.  When the mouse family returned they would find only the cold concrete floor in the place where their mobile home once sat.  I could not muster up any sympathy.  Besides, a mouse brain is too small to feel loss.  Right?

A mouse brain weighs less than half a pinch of salt or half a piece of gum.


A Long Time Ago…

In an old house in Kentucky, a house with many nooks and crannies and spaces that let in the winter wind, I turned on the oven to start dinner and heard the scampering feet, the clicking on metal.  I opened the door.

A mouse ran in circles in the warming oven.

We caught it in a cardboard box and walked out into the night, all the way to the end of our block.  Then we opened the box and set it free.

I like to think the mouse scurried off into the weeds of one back yard that led to the weeds of the next and so on until he found his way back home to his clan, with his own wild story of adventure to tell.  “Life sure is surprising,” he might say, telling how he was swept up by some unknown force and sent flying away in a paper machine that caused him to slip and slide with the constant turbulance until he came to a soft landing in sweet grass and a sudden freedom.  He might add a note to his pals to avoid the old white house at all costs.

Sometimes in life it is necessary to go through bouts of turbulance and fear before coming to a soft landing.  Even then, when it’s exciting to look back and remember the adventure, one might not be too keen on repeating it. 

Of course, with such a small brain, can a mouse recall anything?

A mouse brain weighs less than half a dollar bill.

Or, to end this on a sweet note: a mouse brain weighs less than 1/8 teaspoon of sugar — not even enough to sweeten a cup of tea.  






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