Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hungry Enough To Eat A Mouse?

Well, we actually took a vacation! Alice stayed home for four days and three nights all by herself, other than my brother-in-law Karsten checking in on her every night to throw out leftover gopher parts, bring her fresh food, and otherwise make sure she was OK. We didn't get any kind of "welcome home" from her until five minutes AFTER we got home. Guess she's a slow processor. But at least we got some hearty "wac-wac" calls and loud, tail-cocked hoots. It made me feel missed at least a little.

Lately, including while we've been gone, Alice has had a fantastic appetite. I finally got around to listing her weights by month and realized that September and October are her lowest weights for the year, and January is the highest. That means she has to pack on those pounds (OK, ounces in her case) right about now. And she's got the appetite to say she's doing it.

Normally Alice eats half of an average sized pocket gopher each night. Since she's been eating well, I gave her a whole small/mediumish gopher last night. This morning what was left? Just the face. No sign of the rest. And I believe she ate the whole thing when I saw the size of the monstrous pellet she threw up just before we left work today!

Sometimes after getting home from work Alice will drag out some cached gopher from the night before for a snack. No gopher to drag out tonight. But we caught a field mouse in a trap in the house last night (those of you who think Alice catches mice are crazy!), and just for the heck of it I place it in her nest this morning while she watched and I made the repeated male "hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo...." call. She watched, but didn't pay close attention.

But she remembered it tonight. After a while, she went to her nest, hopped in, and picked up the mouse. I couldn't believe she was hungry enough to eat something as bad tasting (according to Alice) as a mouse! So I watched.

She picked it up in her bill. She grabbed it in her foot. She looked at it. She put it in her bill again. She rearranged it in her mouth. She dropped it. She looked at it. She picked it up again. On and on for at least five minutes. Then finally I heard a crunch! I looked up to see one bite going down the hatch! Then she grabbed the rest of the body like she was going to send it down whole! She didn't look overly enthused though, and after one almost-attempt, she dropped it in the nest and hopped out, never to look back at it again. I looked at it to see how much she ate--it was only the face. The ears were even still on it.

Guess she wasn't hungry enough to eat a mouse. Moral of the story? If you're starving and have the choice of eating a mouse or a pocket gopher, pick the pocket gopher.

Note the enthusiastic (not!) expression on her face when she's holding the mouse.

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