THE HRUGCHUCK MOUSE ("SNOW MOUSE")

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - USAGES - MYTH/LORE - RESEARCHERS

Thus little mammal is also often called "Snow Mouse", "Singing Mouse" or - mostly in Santharia where people have difficulties to pronounce the term "Hrugchuck" - people often refer to it as the "Blue Mouse". Actually this mouse is just an ordinary mouse, but with its light blue colour, it's solely diets on the hrugchuck grass, its adaptation to the harsh climatic conditions of the Icelands it is a very special little animal.

Appearance. Imagine a cerubell coloured furball adorned with nor'sidian diamants - and you have the Snow Mouse of the Icelands' Coast.

That
mouse is hard to find; its fur has the colour of the grass it lives in - a very unusual soft light blue, ranging from a cerubell to the slightly darker allia blue, very rarely a waterberry blue. The hue of the blue varies with the individual, but it always blends well with the hrugchuck grass. Only the tip of the short bushy tail, the ears, the feet and its nose with the whispers are of a darker blue. However, this varies from mouse to mouse, the males are mostly more coloured than the females. The belly is of a creamy white, but hard to observe. The only visible thing not blue on that mouse are its shiny black eyes which look like small nor'sidian adamants.

Its hairs are growing very dense, are quite long and cover the entire body including its bushy short tail and tiny round ears. Its feet are padded and hairy, small rectable claws on hands and feet help to get a grip on the sometimes tenacious grass. The sharp, white little teeth are barely visible - only the marks of a bite if a little finger tried to touch a captured mouse.

Their thick fur and a layer of extra fat under their skin makes them quite heavy compared with other mice, an adult weighs about a mut but is not bigger than a normal mouse, about seven to eight nailsbreadths long without the short tail. However, these measurements can only be verified if you would have a very wet mouse in front of you, the fluffy ball appears much bigger. Return to the top

Special Abilities. These little, warmblooded mammals are able not only to survive, but to thrive in a climate which is so harsh and unforgiving like not many others on Caelereth. This is their only special ability compared to other mice apart form their "Singing":

Snow mice scirp and whistle not unlike a bird, though it may be even more complex. It is done not only when courting, but when two
mice meet in a tunnel or when the mother comes back to the nest to feed the pups.

This communication has the characteristics of a song. It consists of several different melodies which are sometimes repeated, sometimes slightly altered. However, each individual utters a special pattern in its "first meeting song" or a mother uses always the same melody when coming back to her young. Melody seems to change after this, but the temporal sequencing stays. The song seems to decide which individual has to draw back if two meet in a tunnel or which pup is allowed to feed first. It is assumed, that each
mouse has its own song, more research is needed on this subject.

Its sense of hearing and smelling is as well developed as with the field mouse or stone mouse, her bright, big eyes are very sensitive to light. The Hrugchuck Mouse sees very well in the dark for a short distance, but is nearly blind when it accidentally happens to see the sun.
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Territory. The Hrugchuck Mouse lives only within the hrugchuck grass, which grows along the Icelands' Coast, the Peninsula of Iol, and the Icelands of Aeh’Os’th’er’Oc of Northern Sarvonia. None are seen on Cyhalloi though, where the grass is found as well.

Captured mice which were brought outside the area where the blue grass thrives didn‘t die, they could be fed on other grasses and their seeds as well, but their fur lost soon the blue colour and even the thickness when carried in warmer regions. The colour of the fur then turned to a snow white and the mouse resembled very much the Himiko snow mouse living on the Wicker Islands.
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Habitat/Behaviour. This mouse does what every mouse does: Eat, sleep, dig tunnels, do some courting, make new mice. However, what so far other more southern living mice are not known to do is their singing during courtship.

Living in an environment where the soil never thaws and snow covers the land all year round it had to find its own way of surviving. So it doesn‘t dig its tunnels and builds its nest under the earth, but on the ground, under the snow, either on, in or under the hrugchuck grass. It is nearly never seen above the snow except in "hot" summers, where the snow layer can become thin in places or even melt away on a rock - then suddenly its tunnels lead in the open and one might observe a very confused little blue furball, blinded by the rays of the bright sun.

It creates a tunnel of considerable length each day while looking for food. Its high body warmth seems to melt the snow slightly and stabilises the tunnels, so that they can be used afterwards as well, if not a passing thunderfoot destroys them due to its weight or while looking for his food - the blue grass. Where people live in its vicinity, it is well able to change its diet though and carries away whatever it finds fit for her needs.
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Diet. The mouse is able to feed on any grain, seed or grass - but it will soon be no Hrugchuck Mouse anymore, but a common snow mouse if it doesn‘t live on the grass. It devours every part of the plant: The roots, the grass itself, the seeds, but the blue flowers seem to be a delicacy, for when observed (in these rare cases when it is above the snow cover) eating one of these, it takes its time swallowing it - as if it enjoys the flower particularly well. Sometimes its liking of the blue flowers causes its death - for it gives its presence away (apart from the low noises it makes when digging its tunnels or courting): A mouse discovers a stalk and starts to chew it up and pulls the stalk with the flower down through the snow. So if an observant predator sees a hrugchuck flower vanish into the ground, it knows, there is a mouse feasting on its favourite dish.

The mouse forages all day long, it needs quite an amount of the hrugchuck grass despite its nutrients for it has a very high body temperature compared with other mammals, which seems to be a side effect of the grass.
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Mating. Snow Mice are mating all year round. They don‘t pair for life, but take the next partner available when ready for pairing. However, it seems once they have paired with an individual, they won‘t choose it again. Identification happens over the voice. A song is displayed by both partners. If one is lucky and the snow cover is not too high one might well listen to the pairing song. Both chirp and whistle for about half an hour or even longer while either running after each other through their tunnels or sometimes they part only to join each other a few minutes later. Their distance from each other never exceeds seven peds though. It is for an observer like an invisible dance - he hears just the voices moving forward and backward, joining and parting and can depicting in his mind how the dance would look like, if it only would be visible.

Not only partners sing before mating. The siblings chirp as well when the mother arrives to feed them or when she departs, but this sounds different, as if they have another melody, similar to each parting or coming melody, but very different to the songs of the adults when dancing.

The gestation period is about three weeks, the young are already covered with a thick layer of fur which is licked to dry by the mother immediately. The litter has five to seven individuals. They are not born within a few minutes, but it will take well over a quarter of an hour till the next arrives, giving the mother enough time to lick those earlier arriving dry. The nest is built in the grass, a thick layer of it beneath and above the nest. The mother adds softer parts of the grass to make it even denser and warmer. Finally she tears out own hair to make it as warm as possible. If she finds other material which suits her, she will take it as well. Mice living in the close neighbourhood of humans often visit their tents and houses and carry away whatever they find suitable.

The pups are able to run and walk after three days, but stay with the mother another seven weeks. After three months they can procreate themselves.
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Usages. Most people would not speak of usage when thinking of mice, but of scourge, for mice can well endanger sentient life when foraging on the supplies of people. The Hrugchuck Mouse is no exception and many an Ice Tribe's wife had to discover, that a bag of expensive grain had vanished or holes where bitten in a valuable fur.

However, the Hrugchuck Mice have one advantage - or better disadvantage if seen from their perspective: they have their blue fur. So they are hunted for it despite the enormous work it takes to prepare them and sew a decent fur out of many small
mice hides. They are often used to line a baby cradle or to do a nice little cap for a young child, but otherwise the effort of catching the mice and preparing their hide is not worth it. Stories of a whole coat of blue furs are just exaggeration - which Icelands male would wear it or even give it to his wife? That is nothing more than fantasies of highborn Santharian ladies who imagine a sweet love affair in the high north; they know nothing about the harsh conditions of living in this region.
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Myth/Lore. A tale told by the Ice Tribes especially on long winter nights, when a snowstorm is soughing outside for many days and all pray that Chelinor will be gratefully end it soon, so that normal life can go on, goes as follows:

"We all know that Chelinor, the mighty god of snow and ice was one day humiliated by Ertemnir, the Earth God, for Ertemnir intruded his realm and created the hrugchuck grass, to show Chelinor, that he was not as mighty as he was, for he could let grow a grass despite Chelinor's frost and snow, the hrugchuck grass. Chelinor was raging. He was long thinking about how he could find revenge, though he didn‘t show it. After some time he teased Zundefor, that he would surely not be able to give birth to a huge and friendly animal that would be able to survive in his realm. Zundefor, angry at Chelinor like Ertemnir before, mated with Brender and the thunderfoot was born, who fed on the hrugchuck grass. But the hrugchuck grass was so nutritious, that the thunderfoot was no threat to the grass. So Chelinor himself mated with Zundefor and the hrugchuck mouse came to life, small, white and beautiful, but very numerous and hoggish. Chelinor was very pleased, for the mouse did damage to the grass, though of course it never managed to eat it all. However, his elation was dampened soon, when the mouse took on the colour of the grass and became blue - but of course he never admitted that.

A god surely has no such trivial thoughts as we people have, but form there our saying derives: "Better a blue mouse than no mouse!", if we want to express, that being content with something not so perfect is better than having nothing at all."
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Researchers. It is not known, how the notes of this detailed report about this little mouse came to the knowledge of the Compendium writers. The sage Artimidor Federkiel found it one day on his desk and now it is discussed, who of the possible authors it could have been and why he didn‘t deliver this interesting report openly. There are just two who did research work lately in this region: The merited contributor Curgan, who wrote recently about the Iceland tribes, on the other hand there is a young apprentice who is interested in the fauna and flora of the same area, the apprentice Pikel. Talia Sturmwind, though more a desert expert, but interested in this region as well, took up the work to edit and publish the notes of the unknown author. Return to the top

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