I've been debating for a couple of days if I should tell this story. I decided that since this entire tale stems from an honest mistake on my part, I could tell it without feeling guilty. I mean, everyone makes mistakes. Everyone forgets things. Everyone has forgotten to feed a goldfish and woken up to see their fish belly-up. It's a part of life, right?
So remember a while back, I purchased a pet mouse on a whim? Remember how I didn't just stop at buying one mouse, but I wanted to make it into a funny joke so I bought my male mouse, Brigham, three mouse wives he could enjoy? Well, if you remember the end of the story, then you recall the cage started to stink so I moved Brigham and his family out to the garage. Unfortunately, that's not where Brigham's story ends. That's where it begins.
See, I haven't thought about Brigham for several months. I'm not sure how or why. He just slipped my mind. Nobody really went out to the garage during the winter. So Brigham and his concubines have been on a table behind a Tombstone movie poster for the entire winter.
If somebody had asked me last week what would happen to four mice left unattended in a cage for four months, I probably would have said, "They'd die, of course, cause they wouldn't have any water." Well, I guess water isn't a requirement during the colder months. When I got home from work the other day, Jake was giddy with excitement. He said to me, "Calvin... you have to come see this." I followed Jake out to the garage. As we entered, Jake motioned to the table near the back of the garage with a huge smile on his face. At first, I wasn't sure what he was motioning to. Then I saw the cage. I still didn't think about Brigham until I saw the movement. The closest thing I can compare it to is that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones looks down into that pit and the guy with him says, "Why does the ground move?" Then Indy drops the torch down into the pit and sees the floor completely covered in snakes. He rolls onto his back, looks up at the sky and says, "Snakes! Why does it have to be snakes?"
That's what it looked like. Not snakes. I just mean the movement. The tank was about 1/3 of the way full of a black, white, tan, brown, and beige moving mass. Jake started laughing as I walked slowly toward the tank. There were at least 100 mice in the tank literally crawling all over each other. Some babies were scattered around, but most of them were adults. At least three to four inches at the bottom of the tank was mouse pee and poo. It was honestly the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life. I noticed a couple scraps of paper inside the tank. I asked, "What's that?" Jake replied, "I popped a bag of popcorn and dropped the whole bag in there about 5 minutes ago. That's all that's left." It was the craziest thing I've ever seen.
The best way to conclude this post is to answer the questions you're probably dying to ask right now. So here you go.
So how did the mice live for four months without food or water?
The only thing I can think is that they survived by eating the babies and maybe the mice that die from some other reason like getting trampled or starvation.
How can four mice turn into over 100 in just four months?
I asked the same question. Apparently mice are only pregnant for 20 days and have between 2 to 10 babies. They can then get impregnated in 24 hours. So, if each of the three females had a litter of 5 babies every 20 days, that would be 6 liters (or 30 mice) for each of the three females... totaling 90 mice in four months. But then you have to consider that each baby (that isn't devoured) will be able to reproduce at four weeks of age. I don't even know how many mice that makes, but it's a lot.
So wait, Calvin. Based on the numbers in your last answer, there should be, like, a thousand mice in that cage. It should be over-flowing with the little critters.
That's true. And even though that wasn't an actual question, I'll address it anyway. Like I said, the mice had to eat. I can only assume the vast majority of the babies never made it to adulthood cause they were getting eaten by the rest of the mice. I think they were probably half eaten by the time they exited their mother's womb. But that can't be confirmed.
So in closing, I'm not proud of the miserable existence these mice have suffered at the hands of their neglectful owner. I'll make sure the mice are able to live out their lives in the most pleasant of environments. Just as soon as I'm brave enough to lift up the cage.