Observations of the Wild Tigermouse
Stepping over the threshold, I behold my native habitat: my cluttered, messy Neohome.
Old books, papers, folders, and yesterday’s lunch are strewn on and around the
coffee table, and scattered about are various toys and stuffed animals my Neopets
have yet to put away. I am quite familiar with this territory. I have explored
it many times, searching for elusive pencils that constantly evade my grasp and
gathering samples for scientific experiments from the stuff growing in my refrigerator.
Having lived here for about three years, I am the foremost expert on the natural
environment in my Neohome.
I enter, plodding through the hallway and flopping onto my blue sofa. I close
my eyes in blissful comfort, enjoying the splendid squishiness of the cushions.
Without warning, I hear a sound, scritch, scratch, scritch, scratch!
My eyes open just in time to see a red blur flash across my living room floor.
My eyes follow the flash ~ straight into the wall. Puzzled, I sit up. Have I
been visited by Chet Flash? Are my Neopets playing with their Battledome items
inside the house again? Soon, I find a rational explanation. At the bottom of
the wall, shaped like a tent, is a small crevice. I sit up immediately and grab
my notebook and a glowing pen. Something strange is happening, and I plan to
Walking over and lying flat on the floor, I carefully, quietly peer into the
hole. It’s too dark. Placing my glowing pen beside the hole, I can just barely
make out an old Tombola T-shirt, shredded to pieces and piled in a mound with
a depression in the middle. I realize it’s some sort of nest, but it’s empty.
Poking my pen in further, I see several other items; a few plastic knives, a
pack of matches, several Sloth manuals on how to take over Neopia . . . how
did those get in there? There are also several food items: a hunk of
cheese, old pizza, even older steak, and a piece of my homemade lasagna. This
guy’s been busy.
Obviously, something’s living in my wall, but it’s not there right now. It
must have scampered off when I put my glowing pen beside the hole. I bring the
pen out and set it beside the crack once again and stretch out, preparing to
wait until the creature returns so I can catch a glimpse of it.
Within seconds, however, my mission is interrupted by screams coming from the
kitchen. I stand and enter, finding my Darigan Moehog trying to shake off something
round and red. After a moment he succeeds, and sends the small thing flying
across the kitchen. As soon as it lands, lying still for a fraction of a moment,
I can see that it’s some kind of rodent, bright red with four dark, blue-black
stripes running across its back. It has a thick, long tail ~ almost as long
as its body ~ and two large, pointed ears. It stands for a moment on its two-toed
feet, drawing its large ears almost straight up. Its two, three-fingered paws
are outstretched with “thumbs up signs” and has a wide, thin smile stretching
over the width of its head. Then it begins to make the oddest sound, “Eee,
eee, ee, eee, eeeee!” I realize it’s laughing ~ or rather, snickering.
I can now see its whole body is twitching, as if it is experiencing an uncontrollable
eagerness . . . the creature bears an altogether devilish appearance.
Half a second later, it springs upon my Moehog, pulling his ears painfully.
My Moehog tries to smack him off once again, but the creature merely scampers
down his back and begins nibbling at his tail. This enrages my Moehog. He flicks
his tail about without success, and the rodent crawls up his back and onto his
head. Amazingly, amidst all the Moehog’s shaking, the creature manages to position
himself over my Moehog’s eyes. My Moehog practically screams with aggravation,
wagging his head wildly, trying to fling the creature off. Finally, finding
himself without success, my Moehog resorts to slamming his head down on the
table in a desperate attempt to finally rid himself of the rodent. However,
as I should have guessed, the creature moves with a flash to the table and my
Moehog really smacks his head. In response to the look of fury on my
Moehog’s eyes, the creature begins to snicker and laugh once again, taunting
my poor Moehog to the point of enraged madness.
It is now that I realize what this creature is. It’s a Tigermouse,
usually kept as a petpet. Its wild counterparts usually make their homes in
the walls of peaceful Neohomes. I immediately recall the description of Tigermice
in my field manual, “Tigermice like taunting Neopets, pulling ears, and biting
tails – so beware!” I am struck with the accuracy of that description ~
that’s exactly what the Tigermouse is doing!
However, just as this thought passes through my mind, the Tigermouse begins
doing something that wasn’t in the description. It begins scampering about the
table, stuffing its face with pieces of chocolate and cheese. My Moehog tries
to bring his tusks down upon the Tigermouse, but the only thing he succeeds
in doing is smashing plates and destroying glasses. The Tigermouse is amazingly
agile for having such a broad, round frame!
Suddenly a new element is thrown into the mix. My small Baby Lupe enters the
kitchen from the back door. The Tigermouse stops suddenly, his chocolate-covered
mouth stretching to new lengths. He leaps off the table just in time to avoid
another blow from my Moehog and begins attacking my Lupe, but in a new, strange
way. He begins to . . . to tickle her! My Lupe begins to cry out for
help amidst high-pitched giggles and joyful screams. My Moehog and I stand in
silence, wholly perplexed at this strange turn of events. Is this some sort
of strange defense tactic used in the petpet kingdom to incapacitate their enemies?
But then, why perform this ritual upon one who had never made an offensive gesture?
I simply can’t understand this mystery.
My Moehog is the first to come to his senses and help the little Lupe. He bounds
over, swatting at the Tigermouse with his tail. The mouse, snickering once again,
hops up his tail with a flash and stops at the very top of his head. He pulls
a single, blue hair from my Moehogs head, laughs loudly, and dashes out of the
kitchen, down the hall, and into his hole. I can hear him snickering and munching
on his already-stolen snacks. Apparently, he thinks his exploit was victorious.
In many ways, the Tigermouse was victorious. My dishes are in shambles,
and my kitchen is a mess. My Moehog is still enraged, despite the present absence
of the rodent, and has a big bruise extending across his forehead in addition
to numerous bite marks. The only person who seems happy at this moment is my
Baby Lupe, since nothing harmful happened to her.
It’s strange where nature will meet you. One could travel a thousand miles
and find it, or one could simply sit in his or her Neohome and still find it.
True, having wildlife within the walls of one’s Neohome can be more than a bit
unnerving and perhaps frustrating. Nevertheless, one must still wonder at the
adaptive qualities of the Tigermouse.
Oh, and by the way, I’m calling the petpet catcher.
”Observations of the Wild Tigermouse” is based upon and dedicated to my
older brother when he’s bored . . . may my mom ever save me from his insanity!
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"Well, think of all those poor pets in the pound--
not the ones with pretty coats or high stats. Think of those rows upon rows
of cages, gray and monotonous. It's awful just thinking about it, but what if
you had to live there, every day!"