Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Little Kitchen Visitor

A little critter paid a visit to our kitchen. While looking around and thinking, I thought I was hallucinating when I thought I saw something dark moving across the kitchen floor. My cat, Emma, was sitting right next to me with her ears all perked up and making circular movements in response to the noises.

Another dark streak went across the kitchen floor. Emma sat up and locked her gaze into the kitchen. After a long gaze waiting to see if there really was a dark streak going around or if it was just my tired eyes seeing things, I gave up and went back to what I was doing. Emma's jump from the couch and dart into the kitchen caught my attention. She crouched furiously and ultimately caught a small mouse. Either that or it was one cute baby rat that hadn't shed its soft tail hair yet. Emma pounced into the living room and played with it for a while before playing the mouse into the hallway and behind boxes under the console table.

I was captivated by this during early morning hours and told Emma she was a good girl for catching the rodent. She wasn't going for a kill at all. She was simply playing with it. I decided to let her play with it for a while before taking it outside. When enough was enough, I had quite an adventure trying to get the mouse of Emma's mouth or grabbing it whenever Emma dropped it on command. (See, my cat is smart and well-trained.)

I spent half a hour trying to catch that gosh-darned little creature. Finally, the little critter used its natural defensive behavior by pretending to be dead and motionless. I went in for the tail and picked it up.

I know most of you New Yorkers hate rodents. I've been told in the past to flush them, dump them down the trash chute or toss them out of the window whenever I came across one and caught it. But, see, I grew up with a father who works with rats, mice and other critters. So, rodents do not bother me at all. In fact, most of them are cute innocent critters just living their lives. The exception are those infamous huge rats I have frequently seen running across sidewalks and streets, especially in certain areas. I know how to handle and (most of the time, with the exception of last night) catch them. I would never pick up a foot long rodent, but I most certainly could pick up a tiny weeny mouse. My limit is few inches long (excluding the tail). Otherwise, I just catch it with a box. I always release creatures outside to an appropriate spot. I just cannot harm them. (Exceptions are insects and spiders. I'm a scaredy cat and wimp with them, especially spiders which deeply frighten and horrify me. I go nowhere near these, and I always ask someone to dispose of them, alive or dead, as long as these things stay away from me and do not come towards me).

Back to this little tiny critter who was obviously a juvenile. While holding it up by its tail, I noticed that it was a male. Do not ask me how I knew. Just use your common sense. And, no, he did not have balls. His thing just protruded out, probably in fear or immaturity. I decided to bring it outside to release it behind a trash bin. It stayed on my shirt as I gently held its tail. It calmed down while I walked down the stairs to outside. I even petted it. It was soft and did not stink at all. In my head, I was wondering if it could spread some crap to me. But, I figured washing my hands very thoroughly and changing my shirts afterwards would suffice. If I drop dead tomorrow, you'll know what caused it. *knocking on wood now*

I walked up few flights to my apartment. Emma was in the hallway sniffing around and on high alert for the mouse. When I sat down in the living room, she was looking throughout the kitchen and the living room, even checking inside the cat post few times and sniffing along the furry cat string toy thingy. Now, she's finally asleep. What an interesting night. I was somewhat sleepy when the mouse paid a visit. Since then, I've been wide awake and unable to sleep. Talk about being overstimulated by the evening visitor.

NOTE: I checked online to determine if I was correct about it being a mouse, not a rat. It indeed was a mouse. While looking up the pics, I happened to find them on this website. I was surprised and humored by the existence of this association:


American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

On its front page, it said:

Welcome to the home page of AFRMA!

The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA) was founded in 1983 and is a non-profit international club. Anyone that has an interest in rats or mice can be a member. The main purpose of AFRMA is to promote and encourage the breeding and exhibition of fancy rats and mice for show and pets. We also educate the public on their positive qualities as companion animals and provide information on their proper care. Competition shows are currently held 6 times a year throughout Southern California including the Orange County Fair. These shows are very similar to cat, rabbit, or dog shows. Judges evaluate the animals based on official standards for each type of rat or mouse. We also have 1–2 shows each year dedicated to Pets only with fun classes for rats and mice regardless of their physical qualities. The club has information booths set up at several events around Southern California during each year to educate the public on rats and mice as pets and show animals.

AFRMA as a club does not hold any views on, nor promote the matters of culling, reptile keeping/feeding, or animal rights. We leave these decisions up to each individual person. We have always been open to the different views the membership has and hope we can all learn from these different ideas. Any ideas or view expressed in AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales are of the individual contributor and do not reflect any policy of the organization.

As a member you receive a subscription of our club magazine-style newsletter Rat & Mouse Tales. It contains articles, stories, questions, medical information, genetics info., ads, show results, photos, etc. Membership also includes the Rulebook, Show Regulations & Standards Book, Directory, Sales Catalog, membership card, and other informative materials. We have pamphlets on pet care, showing, medical, etc., available online to those interested.

Membership dues: Individual or family (same household) $25; Canada US$30; Overseas US$35. A printable membership application form is available. Just print out the form, include cashier's check or money order, and send it to AFRMA!

Must have been created by suburban folks with kids who bring home the classroom critter on weekends to learn and practice having responsibilities. I strongly doubt that any of the co-founders hailed from NYC.

And, no NYCers would hold championships for mice and rats. Yes, this association holds awards such as Spottie Guy Award, Grand Champ - Rats, and Grand Champ - Mice.

At least I had a humorous research while determining if the little kitchen visitor was a mouse or rat.