War of the words: I like my pets small with big hearts

Photo by Mercedes, Deutscher
Photo by Mercedes, Deutscher

How being a mouse mom changed my perception on rodents

By Mercedes Deutscher, Social Media Coordinator


Pet rodents are smart, cute, and intelligent. If you give them the proper attention and love, they will return it tenfold. They are good pets for someone who needs something to care for. Each one requires varying methods of care or companionship.

Mice are a good beginner pet, or a good pet for someone who is fairly busy. Despite common misperception, they are clean animals. They’re also quite clever, and are smart enough to learn tricks.

It was summer 2015 when I decided to adopt a fancy mouse.

I named her Arya (after the Game of Thrones character.) She had a soft brown and white coat, and big eyes.

Arya took some time to warm up to me. She’d nip my fingers if I got too close while feeding her a treat. Female mice are not as aggressive as their male counterparts, but can still be reserved and territorial around people.

After a week, Arya became more cordial toward me. She began to associate me with treats, and would soon start taking the treat directly out of the palm of my hand. After that, she would allow me to hold her in my hands without a struggle. From there, she would run up my arm and burrow by my neck. Our friendship had begun.

Mice, especially females, are social creatures. As much as Arya adored me, she needed a companion.

So, I came home with a larger cage and two female mice. Sticking with my Game of Thrones theme, I named the black and white mouse Sansa, and the white mouse Daenerys. I set up the two new mice (already bonded) in the new cage, and set them up next to Arya’s cage. Gradually I moved Arya into the larger cage.

Cleaning time would be a hilarious catastrophe. I’d struggle to clean a large cage in the sink while also trying to avoid accidently kicking a mouse that was running loose in a plastic ball.

Sadly, rodents don’t live for too long. Daenerys succumbed unexpectedly only two months after bringing her home.

Sansa, having lost her original companion, was devastated. She would eat less and look around the cage hoping to find Daenerys hiding somewhere. She never did. Many people don’t know that mice can fall victim to depression. Their depression can even become strong enough to kill them. Thankfully, Sansa had Arya.

The next year was blissful. They were there for me when I was lonely and when everything else was changing in my life. They loved me, but perhaps I loved them even more.

That’s what made fall of 2016 so rough for me.

Last September, I went to clean the cage when I noticed a large lump growing on Sansa. I called my mom in a panic and asked if she could drive me to the vet. Most people would not bother taking a small animal to the vet, but I would do anything for Sansa.

The vet misdiagnosed Sansa with an abscess. I was to feed her antibiotics and the swelling would have gone down. Sansa hated the antibiotics. I would even mix it with apple juice or infuse it in a treat, but she struggled against taking her medicine.

Three weeks later, the swelling had not gone down. I noticed Sansa laying tired, too exhausted to climb up and cuddle with Arya. Her growth was opening. I rushed Sansa to the vet.

A different vet was in than a few weeks earlier. He gave me the grim prognosis that I knew deep down. Sansa had cancer, and the large lump was a tumour. I could have brought her home with medication. I could have sent her for surgery, which was expensive and very risky. Or I could put her to sleep.

It broke my heart, but Sansa didn’t deserve to suffer. Even though she was a mouse, she deserved to pass with dignity.

After a quick and painless euthanasia, I brought her home. I buried her in my backyard and cuddled Arya. I don’t think it took her long to figure out what happened. She was strong, perhaps stronger than I was.

Arya was strong and formidable, but even the strongest of us cannot win against time. In December, she passed peacefully in her sleep. I buried her next to her sister.

I miss my girls every day.