kudzuvines: (Default)
[personal profile] kudzuvines
Today, everyone, I got to watch a mouse give birth. I just happened to come downstairs right as this pregnant female started squeezing out her first pup. I set the cage down on the edge of the cage-holder-shelf and watched it all through the clear plastic bottom of the cage (the mice are given bedding, but in this particuar area, luckily, the mice had pushed it aside). It was quite fascinating; I'm not sure if everyone finds this sort of thing as fascinating as I do, but I hope so, because damn if birth isn't one of the weirdest, most amazing things that mammals do.

First, the dam and her helpermouse (we keep two females in a breeding cage--for some reason they eat their pups less often if they have a "midwife") started licking the vulva, which looked somewhat distended. They lick with these incredibly rapid swipes of their tongues, so fast it's hard for the eye to follow. I could see a tiny pink spot, which very suddenly became a large (well, small, really, but for coming out of an orifice that size... mouse vulvas are not, as you'd imagine, very big) pink pup. There was no "head sticking out" stage--it was nose-to-entire-pup all at once.

Many of you, I'd guess, have seen a baby rodent or at least a picture of one. They are very pink, and blind, and kind of ugly. This one squirmed around as soon as it came out, and the mother started licking it with the same rapid tongue licks. She passed the placenta shortly afterwards and Midwife Mouse snatched it from her and ate it. She chewed it off, and then chewed her way up the pup's umbilical cord until you couldn't even tell where it had been. The mother kept licking the pup until, after maybe 10 minutes, she got very still and then started licking her vulva again. In the same way, I saw two more pups come out, and a fourth was born while I was doing other tasks around the colony.

Seriously, fascinating.

In other news, circus classes start tomorrow!
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