Around November or so of 2002 I went to the PetsMart and decided that I would bring home a mouse to keep as a pet. He lived inside of an aquarium in my bathroom and all of his toys and playhuts were custom built by me in the woodshop. It wasn't but a few days that I decided I would go back to PetsMart and purchase a few more of these fury little bastards - 4 more to be precise.
This was perfectly fine until I started noticing, and subsequently read on the web, that mice apparently will attack one another when they are attempting to mate with females. Not only will they attack one another, but they begin spraying their love all over the place. Granted, this love scent was confined to the aquarium, but after a few days time it really began to stink. For this reason alone, people seem to recommend only getting all males or all females so that dominance will not be such an issue.
Well, sadly enough, it was not long before my mice starting dying. One was dead one day, another the next, and the cycle went on for about 2 more weeks. There were finally only two mice left in the cage and though they both seemed to be doing ok, I was sure they would die within the next few days. I was half right, one of them did. Obviously I wasn't too hopeful that the other one would survive at this point, but I continued to build him things to crawl on, ladders to climb, etc.
Mario Van Peebles Mouseman III
Naming the Survivor
Profiling for the camera
Days and then weeks went by before it occurred to me that this mouse was not going to die (which incidentally was good news to me). I rewarded him with a name for having outlasted all of his brethren. And so was born: Mario Van Peebles Mouseman III (a.k.a. Mousie). Many people have asked me over the years where the name actually came from. While on a Rioudosa, NM skiing trip in 2001 with a few friends of mine, I built a snowman one night. The next morning my dear friend, Preston Graham, saw it and for whatever reason named him Mario Van Peebles Snowman. The III suffix was later added to the snowman's name, and so when I purchased the mice months later I brought the name back into play.
Mousie's new cage
Departing the Company of Mario
Maybe the emails really did come from Mario?
I kept Mousie as entertained as one could for several months. I played with him often, built him complex mazes to run through, would let him swim around in a lukewarm bath, and really all of the other things one does with a pet mouse. But as my travels to New Zealand were nearing, I needed to find him a temporary sitter. My sister agreed to care for him during the year I would be abroad. She sent me webcam pics of him with some regularity (see below) and otherwise did an excellent job of keeping me informed of his life in Arkansas (where she was attending college).
The Fate of Mousie
I gave Mousie to my sister around mid June of 2003 and left for New Zealand. I had Mousie for about 8 months prior to this. As I said before, my sister kept me informed of his status with emails and pictures while I was away in New Zealand with Tisa, though I was looking forward to getting to see him when I returned to the states. I got back from New Zealand in late March of 2004 and for whatever reason, Mousie was not around because my sister had not yet returned from college for the summer. Regardless, since I didn't have my apartment setup back in Austin just yet, I asked my sister to hang on to him for just a little while longer.
My sister and her boyfriend were coming up to Austin to see a concert in June of 2004 and I was finally going to be reunited with Mousie after having not seen him for over a year. The day they came up, Kim organized all of his things, packed up his toys, and cleaned his cage one final time before bringing him back to me. Midday I received a call from my mother telling me to call Kim as she was horribly upset. I rang her and she was crying rather hysterically. After calming down a bit, she explained to me that Mario had just died.
We're really not sure what killed him though the best we could come up with was the stress of moving him around to clean the cage. There weren't any chemicals used to clean the cage and in any case, it was entirely open thus he would not have inhaled them. It is a sad fact to face, I'll never see Mario Van Peebles Mouseman III again.
Apparently my sister posted this link about Mario on some site named I Loved My Pet. It says the link will only be active until August 28th, 2005, but this has persisted for years. Here is what she wrote:
Mario Van Peebles Mouseman III (Mousie) was born in a PetsMart in Austin, Texas and was loving adopted along with 4 of his siblings by Kevin Ludlow. Mario truly embodied Darwin's survival of the fittest, outliving all of his relatives, and ultimately becoming Kevin's adored pet. Kevin and Mousie enjoyed each other's company and the many memories of their brief life together live in Kevin's memory daily. Kevin's moved to New Zealand forced him to relinquish his beloved pet to his sister Kim Ludlow of Houston. Kim sent Kevin countless pictures and updates which allowed him to keep track of Mousie's progress. Kim and Mario ultimately moved and Mousie enjoyed a stint in Arkansas before eventually returning to Houston in route to Austin where he would once again live with Kevin. Unfortunately, Mario was never able to experience a reunion with his original owner, and tragically he passed away moments before his journey home to Austin began.