This article is from the Nov./Dec. 1995 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Pat Bromberek, Portage, WI
“Sorry folks, but the expected temperature high of 20 degrees will be minus 20 with the wind chill factor, so bundle up before venturing outdoors!” crackled the radio. The last thing I wanted to do was crawl out of my warm nest and venture out into a deep freeze at 5:30 A.M.!! “Ugh!” I mumbled as I got ready for work. “Don’t wanna do this!”
Hurriedly I ran out the door and the bitter cold instantly hit my being. Talk about waking up instantly, cold weather will do it—a good slap in the face!! Too cold to even say anything against this awful cold stuff. So off to work I went, at least the worst part of the day behind me.
I was not prepared to see what the black cotton ball turned out to be.
This particular Friday was no different from any others. Several shipments of rats and mice came in and had to be unboxed. Once the rats and mice were placed in cages complete with food and water, the boxes were then taken outside and stacked up like soldiers for the sanitation department to come and pick up.
3 P.M. and time to go home. The wind was still blowing hard and the cold was just bitter! It hurt to even breathe! I ran to my pick-up truck to get the engine warmed up and the cab itself. It was so cold you couldn’t touch the steering wheel without your hands freezing up. How do the squirrels and other animals survive this weather? I thought as I watched two bushy tailed gray squirrels frolic by an oak tree. Just watching them made me shiver.
Ten minutes later I pulled out of my parking space and proceeded to drive out of the parking lot. The shipping boxes had been taken away and the two squirrels were nowhere to be seen. There were several patches of old snow, now a dingy gray color, laying about on the pavement and grounds when something black caught my eye. It looked like a cotton ball, but it was black. I straddled and drove over it thinking it was perhaps an acorn or some other piece of debris the playful squirrels may have dug up. But it was black. I stopped the truck and got out. “Have to check this out!” I thought as I walked over to this mysterious black cotton ball. I was not prepared to see what the black cotton ball turned out to be. “Oh my God!” I gasped, “I don’t believe this.” Shivering on the pavement was a black mouse. Puffed up trying to conserve energy, thus looking like a cotton ball. His ears and feet were white and his little body was so cold! I gently picked him up and ran back to the truck. He shook violently and made no attempt to run away. I wondered if he was alive and yes, he was when I heard a feeble squeak come from his shivering body. I knew I had to warm him up. I looked around the front seat for some sort of container to put him in. Then I spied my coffee cup. So, lining the cup with Kleenex, I put the little hypothermia-ridden mouse inside and covered him with more Kleenex. We proceeded to go on and pick up Mike.
“Mike, please drive home tonight. I will explain.” I said as I moved over to the passenger side of the seat, the coffee cup in my hand.
Perplexed, Mike got in the driver’s side. “What’s up? Are you not feeling well?” he asked as we started our journey home.
“Look.” I said and as Mike turned around, his face showed the same shock I felt when I found the little mouse.
“Is it alive!? Oh my God!” he sputtered. “Poor thing! How did it end up outside?”
“Yes, it is alive, but I have to get heat into his body.” I held him but it wasn’t enough to generate the necessary heat which now was so crucial to bringing him back. Then I got an idea.
“Mike, I need your woolen cap.” Before he could answer, the cap disappeared from his head and now the little mouse was inside it. I placed the cap on top of the truck heater. I then put my hand in the cap around the mouse so I could gage the heat.
As we proceeded home, the frozen mouse began to thaw. He started stirring about and began crawling around my hand. His body started to feel warmer as did his frost bitten front and back paws and tail.
We were approximately 10 minutes away from home (our journey to work is 50 miles one way), the little black cotton ball started to get mighty frisky. It was very obvious he was feeling a lot better and all signs indicated he was well on his way to recovery. The problem now was keeping him from escaping! Then there was the trusty old coffee cup. I quickly put him back in it and snapped the lid on it. He sure was not very happy about that because we could hear him scratching furiously on the plastic sides. “Only a few minutes more” I whispered to the cup.
At last, home! Nice warm house and a house full of happy rodents to greet you at the end of the day!
Quickly I got an empty aquarium ready to put the new mouse in. I could hear his impatience coming from the coffee cup! Finally it was time to introduce the newcomer to his new digs. Carefully I took the lid off, the cup aimed inside the aquarium, and out popped a very energetic mouse! He ran around the tank, checked out the plastic house, pink wheel, and of course the lab blox and seed mixture poured in a yellow dish. He then stood up on his hind legs and stared up at us as we stared down at him. Our eyes met and gazes froze. He then got down and began to eat, but first, “Gotta check the wheel before I really chow down!”
“What are we going to name him” said Mike as he watched a very thawed mouse romp around the aquarium. “Don’t know. I just can’t believe he survived like he did. Not only survived from the cold but from out-going vehicles as employees left work. It is amazing he didn’t get squished. I’m sure no one realized that a mouse was frozen on the pavement!”
“I know, we’ll name him Windchill!”
“Perfect name, Mike.” We both looked at the aquarium and a very exhausted little black mouse was cozily curled up in his new house, never to experience the bitter cold again!
Windchill came to live with us January 27 of this year. We were concerned he’d lose one of his feet or ears or tail from the cold, but he never did. I have no idea how long he was outside, but I believe it was awhile because when I found him he was very close to death. He never moved—just sat shaking and shivering beyond control. Sometimes a mouse will hide in the bedding inside the boxes. Even though each box is checked thoroughly for stray mice, sometimes some escape. I think this is how Windchill got outside. And once outside, not knowing how bitter cold the weather was, he jumped out of the box, ran, and the cold overtook him to the point he couldn’t move. And it still amazes me no one ran over him because he was sitting in the middle of the road! I told his tale the following Monday and no one could believe it either. Yes, they saw a black thing but dismissed it as a leaf, etc. But leave it to Pat to find orphans like Windchill—or should I say orphans find Pat. Lucky Mice!
P.S. Two more mice “found” me and live with us. “Friday” crawled in my canvas bag hanging in my locker. Didn’t know he was in there till I got home. Found him on a Friday a year ago in June, hence the name “Friday.” Also, “Hitchhike” who came home in a similar fashion.