MINI1    5' Mini-mysteries for the mouse detective

Michaela Mouse lived in a hole under the roots of a large tree.
One day she heard a knock at the door. When she opened it, she
saw the queen ant.

"You have to help me! Please, Michaela Mouse, help me!"
exclaimed the queen ant.

"What's wrong, Your Majesty?" asked Michaela.

"We all had an agreement." exclaimed the queen. "And somebody
broke the agreement! That's what's wrong!"

"Wait a minute." replied Michaela, "Start from the beginning.
First of all, what agreement are you talking about?"

The queen took a deep breath, then answered, "All the animals
who live in the park got together to divide the food left behind
by the humans... so noone goes hungry."

"How is the food divided?" asked Michaela.

"Well, for instance," explained the queen, "the squirrels and
the chipmunks divided up the trash cans. The popcorn and the
nuts in half the trash cans go to the chipmunks. The other half
of the trash cans are just for the squirrels. Anything dropped
on the playground is for the chipmunks. Anything dropped on the
grassy areas is for the squirrels. It's like that for all the
animals in the park."

Michaela replied, "So, you're saying that one kind of animal
took food that was supposed to be left for another kind of

"Yes." replied the queen, "The ants were supposed to get
anything that is spilled under all the picnic tables."

"But another kind of animal took it instead?" asked Michaela.

"Yes." replied the queen.

"What did they take?" asked Michaela.

"Enough Coke to last my colony at least one week!" replied the

"Coke?" replied Michaela, "You mean someone left a bottle of
Coka Cola under a picnic table and someone took it?"

"Not the bottle. Just the liquid." replied the queen.

"Show me." replied Michaela.

They went to the park and looked under a picnic table. There was
an empty coke bottle laying on its side.

Michaela asked, "Is this where the bottle was when you first saw

"Yes." replied the queen.

"So, noone moved it?" asked Michaela.

"No. But the liquid is all gone." replied the queen.

Michaela explained, "Well, I can tell you who DIDN'T drink it."

"Who?" asked the queen.

"It wasn't the squirrels and it wasn't the chipmunks and it
wasn't the birds. It wasn't even the raccoon who visits here
from the woods." replied Michaela.

"How do you know that?" asked the queen.

Michaela explained, "Because the larger animals would have to
pick up the bottle and pour it out to drink it. But if the
bottle wasn't moved, the robber has to be an animal small enough
to crawl inside the bottle."

The queen replied, "But an animal small enough to crawl inside
the bottle couldn't drink all that liquid!"

Michaela asked, "The ants in your colony are small enough to
crawl into the bottle."

The queen answered, "Yes, but there are thousands of us!"

Michaela explained, "Maybe there were thousands of them."

"Oh!" exclaimed the queen, "You think another ant colony did

Michaela answered, "I don't know yet. Let me investigate."

She took out her tiny magnifying glass and inspected the mouth
of the bottle.

"Aha!" exclaimed Michaela.

"Did you find something?!" asked the queen.

"Yes!" exclaimed Michaela, "I found tiny grains of pollen."

(Can you tell who stole the coke from this clue?)

"What does that mean?" asked the queen.

Michaela explained, "Pollen comes from flowers. There are two
kinds of animals who drink the liquid from flower blossoms:
butterflies and bees. Both of them get pollen stuck on their
feet while they're sipping liquid from the flowers."

(Can you tell who stole the coke from this clue?)

"So which one do you think drank all our coke?" asked the queen.

"Well," explained Michaela, "Butterflies have wings that are too
big to fit inside of the bottle."

"So, that means the bees did it!" exclaimed the queen, "But
wait! The bees get all the nectar they need from the flowers. We
agreed that we would never drink nectar from the flowers. And
the bees agreed not to drink the spills from under the picnic
tables. Are you sure they did it?"

Michaela answered, "I don't know yet. Let me investigate."

She went to the edge of the park where the flowers grow along
the fences. To her surprise, the flowers were wilted and there
were no blossoms. Michaela went to the control box for the
sprinklers and found that the lawn mowers had damaged the wires.

Michaela returned to the queen ant and reported, "The flowers
were wilting because the water was shut off. Without the flower
blossoms the bees had no nectar."

"Oh! That's terrible!" exclaimed the queen. "Without nectar
they'll die of thirst! What will we do?!"

It turns out that Michaela mouse was best friends with a little
girl whose name was also Michaela. She called the parks
department and had them fix the sprinklers.

And because of the great detective work of the world's greatest
mouse detective, now the bees get all the liquid they need from
the flower blossoms and they all lived happily ever after.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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