I named him Vinnie and this is his story.
Vinnie found me while I was taking a late afternoon walk on a cold but sunny day in Rotterdam. What I assumed was litter blowing past my foot turned out to be this tiny nugget of fur.
His eyes were barely open and his posture suggested he was rather young. A small raised flowerbed a few steps behind was probably where he came from. He didn’t move when I bent down next to him and knowing he would make an easy snack for a seagull, I couldn’t leave him there.
There was a flinch when my hand touched him, but he didn’t run. Not much persuading was needed to put him in my palm. The raised bed must have been too high for him to jump or climb back up, so I rested my hand flat to the mud and waited. I waited a while. Then I lifted my hand, gently moving him to my fingers and closer to the soil. Vinnie moved, but in the other direction, he climbed back to my palm and tucked up his tail. I think he liked my body heat.
Vinnie had decided he was coming home.
I’m very fortunate to have a partner who supports me when I decide to bring animals home (This is the second time in a year). So it wasn’t long until Vinnie had a large cardboard box, ready with bedding, water and some seeds.
It was some time before I managed to get him off my hand and into his temporary accommodation, but once he found the food bowl he was content digging around and nibbling non-stop for the next two hours. It wasn’t until we were preparing to go to sleep that he began jumping at the side of his box.
Worried that he would stress himself out, my girlfriend and I got dressed to try and find somewhere to release him. Perhaps some food and a nap was all he needed. I lowered my hand into the box and he immediately climbed up my fingers and settled down in the palm of my hand. He was unsure whether he wanted to clean himself, or lay down and sleep. So he did both.
Sleeping while standing up and holding a mouse just wasn’t a viable option for me, so we brainstormed a genius idea: A hot water bottle and a sock.
It worked a treat! After another gentle battle to coax Vinnie out of my palm he stood on the hot water bottle and nuzzled his way under the sock. He remained quiet and content the whole night through.
The next morning some google detective work concluded Vinnie was likely a field mouse who was just over two weeks old. With a bit of a head start he should be able to survive on his own.
He was a bit slow off the starting block that morning, but he was being incredibly cute. I’m sure I heard him say ”Just five more minutes”.
Surely enough he arose from his slumber and became more active. He was still happy just sitting in my hands, but he had much more energy than yesterday. He would clean himself very thoroughly, indicating that he was feeling safe and strong.
We walked for over an hour to take Vinnie clear of the city to somewhere a bit more suited to his nature. The whole way he was huddled in my hands trying to avoid the cold wind, only occasionally poking his nose out to see what was going on.
The concrete jungle gave way to more green space, so now we just had to find the right place to set Vinnie down. Well, perhaps after a spot of breakfast.
Eventually we found a place with long grass, bushes and lots of hidey-holes. I was sure this would be a better fit for Vinnie than a flower bed in the city centre. It was time to ween Vinnie from my hands one last time to see if he would take back to nature.
Vinnie wouldn’t go anywhere until he had finished his seeds and ensured that he was spotlessly clean. Then, slowly but surely he began to sniff around the grass. He would momentarily step off my hand, take a few steps forward then dart back to the safety of my palm. If anything it was great to see him moving so fast. It inspired my confidence in the little guy.
He was getting braver by the second, and once he realised that he couldn’t make a nest anywhere on my person he became comfortable standing in the grass all by himself.
Vinnie would cautiously move around in the grass, taking in all the new smells and textures that surrounded him. He found a spot where the sun was shining and basked there for a couple of minutes. Then, with his batteries fully recharged he remembered how to mouse! He gave a few hops and darted into the long grass, sat there a moment and moved again, picking up speed and shooting off into the undergrowth.
We stayed for a few minutes to see if Vinnie would re-surface. When we were content knowing that he was likely digging around or exploring a place to make a nest, we scattered some seeds in the area he disappeared. If he would need it, there would be an easy meal close by.
Below is a small compilation video of the time spent with Vinnie. I hope you enjoy it.
For more of my animal adventures, click here!