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Mice/Let wild mice out into the cold

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QUESTION: Well I have had mice in my house for years and why all of a sudden I feel I want to be free of them I do not know and I am rethinking it as I type. Regardless, I humanely  captured 4 (many more are here) I took them and released them at the local botanical garden. I live in Arizona where it is not too cold,however it is cold for a couple days, I am so upset that I released them today :( I am in hysterics.
1. Will they be able to find shelter from these 2 upcoming cold nights?

2.I left food for them at the area where they were released will they find it?

I just want live in harmony with these critters, I get lots of bad feedback about letting them survive...I am trying to encourage them to leave on their own, no food out etc: and again I do not want them to starve,I imagine they will not do this now, Winter, however Spring is not far off; I can not stop crying and I hope they will make it, I will not be doing any catch and release until the weather is warmer. Not too sure what I am looking for as far as an answer. Just hope they can find each other to stay warm.

ANSWER: Hi Candace,

Sorry to leave you worried so long (I actually wrote an answer several hours ago but the site went down and ate it)-- but dry your tears. Although it isn't ideal to let mice out when it is cold, they are also pretty resourceful. They can take 40 degrees, which is about as cold as it has been getting for you, right? And if it is warmer during the day that will help a lot.

As for the food. I don't know if they will be too scared to come back to where you dropped them off- they might have just run and run until they felt safe- but I like to do that myself. In the future I know a great way for someone as caring as you- if you can do some carpentry or know someone who can. There are plans for a wonderful mouse release shelter at a site called something like Bucky's Ranch or something... Sorry I can't think of it right now. I am on my iPad because I did not want to keep you waiting till I can use the computer; write back and I will find the link! You might find it on this site if you try "Natasha mice mouse release plans" and see what comes up.

So... Long and short, I think your guys are probably OK. And I understand where you are emotionally. I have finally decided to just live with the mice because city mice are impossible to catch -- so small they escape from any trap. So I live with them. Occasionally I have to throw out a box of Saltines because they have tunneled into  it and made a mess. And the poops all over the place... Oh well.  I also have to treat my pet rats and mice for the mites the wild mice give them occasionally. A couple of times I have actually handled one by accident when I was not paying attention and thought it was one of my dwarf rat babies!

No more tears :)

Squeaks,

Natasha







---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Natasha,
I attempted to search for the mice release plans and have not found it. I would like to see what it is however, so if you can send a link I would appreciate it.
The temp was cold last night 32 degrees and where I released them is a botanical garden, with lots of buildings so hopefully they found someplace warm and part of feeling bad is that another human seeing a mouse would go to an extreme to kill it. So I learned a HUGE lesson and
I think because of the (still) extremely guilty and terribly sad feelings I will just let them be. I think they are adorable, they are messy so that is yucky but Clorox works. My decision to catch and release probably was about what "others" may or may not think...well I am not one to, in all sincerity, care what others think.

1. I hope they might be able to find their way back here? It is not even a mile where I took them..is it possible? Specially if the had babies here?

I hate that I may of split up the family...GRR I have read too much and all the bad info is all I hear in my head.

I truly appreciate your response. I had a moment of happiness :) and know that the true lessons we learn in life are by experience and this was a big one. I do not apologize for the fact that I care about our four legged friends, I rescue dogs, cats, birds and when I win the lotto, my plans are to build a wildlife refuge and hire the homeless to care for these sweet beings. :)

Bless you....
Candace

Answer
Dear Candace,  


Here are the amazing plans for a mouse release shelter. It can be reused.

http://mouseranch.com/FYI/releaseShelter.shtml

Here are "Bucky"'s comments about releasing:

http://mouseranch.com/FYI/wildRelease.shtml


You may - scratch that - will - have fun with the rest of the site. Go to the top of the page and the word "mice and more" has a drop down menu. You can read individual mouse stories there : ).  

If there are buildings around they are doing fine. There is likely to be a way to sneak into one. As for killing the mice... the people who work in a botanical garden must be into nature, right? So it is likely they would not be mean. And a mouse can't do much damage in most parts of the place-- since there is no food indoors, it isn't likely for them to make any kind of mess.  After all, there will be lots to eat outdoors when tourists drop crumbs or even bigger pieces of food! Maybe they will just let them be.

Or maybe they will catch them and release them a mile away... by your house ; ).  

Actually they can travel a mile, though it is the mile that their territory encompasses. They can have a territory of a mile. But starting at one side of your house and going to the gardens... well I don't know. And if it wasn't in their territory, I have no idea if mice are like Lassie-- and the few but actual cases of an animal returning after being moved.  Well, probably not.

But.. if one of your does was unfortunate enough to have been nursing tiny pups...well I do have a comforting thought. Mice are, I believe, the only animals where a female who has not had her own litter can often nurse someone else's pups! And mice do live in little colonies. So if you have more mice, they probably all live together someplace, and there must be at least one female left, previous mom or not. And she will be happy to nurse those babies.

Why is that? Well, look at it genetically and evolutionarily: Because mice live in very incestuous communities, each mouse shares an awful lot of genes with each other. And so do their pups. Another fact about mice is that they often don't make it back home. Something eats them (their death is usually fast, and far, far less painful than the methods people use- poison and glue traps-- except death by snake). My sister's boyfriend once called them "nature's little snacks" (another thing about the gardens is, how many cats or badgers or lynxes or whatever are likely to be there?)

So.. a lot of mother mice don't return home. Simplistically, in animals where babies do not share much in the way of genetics, there is no point in nursing the next creature's babies because those aren't your genes, and it will take away from the energy that you could be using to pass your own genes along. So, "genes for" nursing another baby would not survive long. But with mice, when mom goes missing, the litter left has most of the same genes as any mouse there, so any doe has an interest in nursing them. So "genes for" nursing the litter next door, so to speak, survive well. If no one nursed the litter, its genes would be lost. "Genes for" nursing the litter next door would make the colony thrive, thus carrying on those genes to generations and generations ahead.

So.. there are a lot of ways to look positively on it : ). The mice might well be happy with their new location, with all those crumbs.

Thank you for caring so much about "our four-legged friends."

In a heart-warming question to me, a woman had rescued an injured mouse from her cat, and had held it against her chest to keep it warm for an hour till it moved on its own. I laughed because just recently at that time, I had found a baby mouse lying on my stairs, and I had picked it up and done the same, in bed where it was warm. Mine didn't make it though.

I don't know how anyone can be cruel to animals. It is incomprehensible to me.

squeaks n giggles,

Natasha

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Natasha

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I can answer questions about raising mice and caring for them as pets, with knowledge from my 38 years of having fancy mice as pets. I have NO MEDICAL TRAINING and you should take a sick mouse to the vet; but if you simply can't, I will try to help you. I LOVE PHOTOS!!! I ALSO LOVE UPDATES! Let me know how the little tyke is doing later on, for better or worse, especially orphans. It also helps me to help the next person. Please first search first: use 'Natasha Mice Mouse' with whatever else your question includes. Or check out these links: **** YOUR FIRST MOUSE (my video; rough draft): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNK4uqNZTbA&feature=share **** TEN VIDEOS ON RAISING ORPHANS: http://www.youtube.com/user/CreekValleyCritters/videos?query=raising **** SEXING MICE: http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm **** And some GREAT MOUSE INFO SITES: http://thefunmouse.com/info/index.cfm http://www.rmca.org/Resources/mousefaq.htm

Experience

I have had mice for 40 years (since I was 5!). I raised them when I was a child but now I keep all females, and never fewer than three so that if one dies the others are not devastated, because they have each other.

Organizations
I run Rats and Mice are Awesome on Facebook. The official name is Rats are Awesome.

Education/Credentials
B.A., M.A., M.A. in Linguistics: Yale University and University of Connecticut

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