White-footed Mouse on Aspen
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8” x 9”, pen/wash, 1980
Mice are much maligned. Of the dozens of different species, only one or two can be called dirty and disease carrying, and these simply take man's filth from one place to another and are quite clean themselves. The vast majority are cleaner and more fastidious than most of us humans.

I like mice very much. They are attractive and delicate with soft fur in a variety of colours. They are industrious and quite intelligent. They don't exhibit the laziness and cruelty sometimes found in man's favourite pets.

In the world of mice I have many favourites, but my most favourite is the white-footed mouse. In my attempt to help scientist friends who are studying their ecology and behaviour, I have live trapped hundreds of them. A mouse would sit on my hand as I held its tail so that I could read its little ear tags. If a mouse ever nipped me, it was quite gently, which is more than I can say for chipmunks and meadow mice.

I received a childlike excitement from their tender little feet on my hand, their large, luminous eyes and the twitching nose with long exploring whiskers. Of course, they were nervous but not panic stricken. In fact, they were almost trusting. After releasing them, they would usually dive into the nearest hole, but sometimes, they would climb a tree. They are almost as agile as monkeys and can be quite at home even on small branches and twigs.