Sunday, August 28, 2005

Outside In

If you have been reading this blog you'll have gathered that I have an affectionate interest in the creatures around me: the spiders and snakes, the birds, skunks, rabbits, deer coyotes, foxes....everyone. But I am also a believer in setting boundaries. A simple rule: while many invertebrates are tolerated to some extent in the house (of necessity really--the cobweb spiders, for example, are here to stay no matter what I do), only three vertebrate species are allowed--Homo sapiens sapiens, Felis domestica, and Canis familiaris. And members of these three are allowed by invitation only! Of course, I can imagine special circumstances where a member of another vertebrate species might be allowed in the house briefly--but generally speaking that is the rule.

Yesterday morning the rule was broken.

It was very early--around 5:00 a.m. (I've been wakening much too early lately--and this time of the year it is still dark at 5:00 so it's kind of a drag.) I had taped The Osbournes the night before. In Canada this show runs on regular network television at 10:00 p.m., with nothing bleeped out, and an offensive language warning after every commercial break: "Even some adults may be offended by the language..." is my favourite phrase in the warning. And the warning makes it easy to fast forward through the commercials without running over into the show.

So there I was--up too early, sitting on my bed with my first cup of coffee, and my cat Sass (member of one of the permitted species), watching the slightly dull but watchable antics of Ozzy and the gang. Then a dark shape seems to dart across the bed and under the sleeping bag I use as a throw. I recall being told that shiftworkers and others of the sleep-disturbed class suffer from this kind of illusion in their peripheral vision. Then it comes back out from under the cover and looks at me, before darting off the bed, back the way it came. A mouse! And what did brave cat Sass do? Nothing--she didn't even notice. And my efforts to get her interested in the path the mouse took came to naught.

Common rodents around here are the vole, the Norway rat and the deer mouse. I believe this was a deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). According to this Web page "The Deer Mouse is the only mouse native to North America that regularly enters sheds or houses..." For a picture of one that isn't quite as good looking as the one I saw, click here.

A Web search for this species also kicks up a lot of pages about Hanta virus, but we don't have much of the virus in Ontario. According to this site, "No cases have been confirmed east of Saskatchewan." But I am careful when I'm cleaning out a shed or other rodent-infested area. Hanta virus or no--the deer mouse is not on the list of allowed species for the house, and this one wasn't invited in any case!

1 comment:

TroutGrrrl said...

Great story. What is it with our pampered indoor felids?! We had a regular mouse in the kitchen a couple of years ago. He was so tiny, so bold and so regular that we named him - Perry. I once caught him eating cat food out of a cat dish under the close observation of one of the cats. Wha??? Eventually, he did wear out his welcome. Our old cat Jessie caught him and delivered him to my feet a few weeks before she passed away. We were happy that she got to enjoy the indoor cat's fantasy of hunting while she could.