About an year ago, Soaringheights and I, hit upon this brilliant plan of training lab mice to navigate a maze. We (Read she) even convinced the organizers of Micromouse at IITB’s Techfest, to keep the circus going before the actual event started. Yes, we were supposed to make a mouse go searching (for a piece of cheese perhaps?) and reach the centre of the maze.
We did manage to get a couple of albino rats (the cute little white ones with ruby eyes) from a vet somewhere, in a bird cage. Three and six months old she-mice. After much deliberation we decided to call them Pinky and The Brain, for an hour. Then decided on Sample 1 and Sample 2. Then again decided to call Gangu Maushi (Commom name among kaamwaali bais). But well what really stuck was just mouse.
After the first day of terror that the mice would escape and run around the whole place (which did happen the next day), we figured caged mice did not mean we could take it to the maze and train them. There was a whole prequel to it. MOUSE MAINTENANCE!
- These creatures take as much space as they can. They can run around a whole house turing up at the most inconvinient places. Implied, we needed a bigger cage.
- They love to hide. They love to play. They love to go through empty tissue paper rolls, and tissue paper pieces.
- They are fussy about what you give them to eat. “I wont eat this. I wont eat that. I’m bored of this. More Cornflakes, please!”
- They don’t mind dirty surroundings. Until the stench starts to bother you.
- Its true. They have really really sharp teeth, and have a immense need to keep biting even if it means the other mouse in the cage.
- Don’t underestimate them, they know of ingenious ways of getting out of the cage.
- They run really fast, even if it means on you. (No. I could never muster the guts to touch them ever).
- They are not as bad as I make them sound.
Then came the incident where, one fine day I wake up to hear “mice running lose”! to see white things running helter skelter. And before I knew sample 2 died by the accidental-being-pushed-by-a-suitcase-while-trying-to-retrieve-it. Very delicate things. <mourn>.
Mice are social creatures. So, we got another one, sample 3. At this point we realised that that there are different kinds of mice. docile. meek. sane. wild. really wild. really really aggresive. Now the alpha, beta hierarchy exists in a mouse colony. What happens when you let a really aggresive mouse into the territory of a sane mouse. Thats right. 3 bit 1. 3 bit 1’s eyes. 3 bullied 1 to shiver. And we sat there watching, not knowing what to do. Seperation does not help. Thus, 3 was let lose into the wild.
Now we had had enough. Me watching. Soaringheights struggling to take care. It went to her house. And then was given away to a little boy who adored the thing.
Micromouse was all forgotten.
It took me a week to give up on taking care of them. And soaringheights a month. Her sister and dad a bit longer. And a little guy who loved it until it died.
PS: This blog hits 100,000 hits a few days ago. Nothing much. Just another milestone. Thanks for stopping by. We love you all!