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MINI6    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 robin red-breast whose nest was in the tree above.

"You have to help me, please!" exclaimed the robin, "Somebody
stole all my eggs!"

"This sounds like the work of that robin who couldn't have
babies of her own." replied Michaela.

"Hers was the first nest I checked." said the robin, "But my
eggs weren't there! Do you think the squirrels or chipmunks
stole them?"

"I don't think so." replied Michaela, "Squirrels and chipmunks
don't eat eggs. They eat seeds and nuts."

"Well, maybe it was a raccoon or an opossum." said the robin,
"They eat eggs, don't they?"

"Well, I guess it's possible." replied Michaela, "But since I
live right under your tree, I would have heard noises if any
animals climbed up the tree. And I didn't hear anything."

"But you'll investigate, won't you?" asked the robin.

"Yes, of course." replied Michaela.

She climbed up the tree to the robin's nest and examined it and
the branches nearby for clues with her tiny magnifying glass.

"That's odd." said Michaela, "There's not a feather from any
other bird, not a hair from any other animal. Robbers ALWAYS
leave SOME clues. But I can't find any."

The robin replied, "You're not giving up are you?"

"No, of course not." said Michaela. "What this probably means is
that the animal who stole your eggs didn't land on this branch
or step on your nest."

"I know some animals that can do that!" exclaimed the robin,
"Bees and butterflies can sip nectar from flowers without
landing on them! So can hummingbirds!"

Michaela replied "But none of those animals is big enough to
lift an egg. And they don't eat eggs."

So, Michaela stood up on her hind legs and looked all around.

"Aha!" she exclaimed.

"What is it?!" asked the robin.

Michaela replied, "There's a tree branch directly above your
nest. An animal could steal your eggs, without touching your
nest or this branch, if he lowered himself down from the branch
above."

"I know some animals that can do that!" exclaimed the robin,
"Spiders can lower themselves on web silk!"

"They can." replied Michaela, "But the spiders who live around
here aren't big enough to lift ONE egg, let alone all of your
eggs."

With that Michaela turned and ran to the trunk of the tree, then
climbed up to the branch above and out to the limb above the
robin's nest. There, using her tiny magnifying glass, she
examined the branch and the surrounding leaves.

"Aha!" exclaimed Michaela.

"Did you find something?!" asked the robin as she flew up to
meet Michaela.

"Yes," replied Michaela, "There are brown hairs here and scales
of skin. I've seen these before."

"Who are they from?" asked the robin.

"They're from the only animal around here who can hang by it's
own tail." replied Michaela.

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

"Who is it?" asked the robin.

"It's the opossum who lives in the woods." replied Michaela, "He
carried your eggs back to the woods with him in his pouch.
Opossums are the only animals around here with a pouch."

"But how did he get up here?" asked the robin, "You said that
you would have heard him making noise if he climbed past your
house. Opossums can't fly up here."

Michaela sat up on her hind legs and looked all around.

"There!" exclaimed Michaela, "That tree over there has some of
its branches overlapping with the branches from this tree. The
reason I didn't hear him climbing is because he climbed up that
tree and then he jumped from that branch to this one. And since
I didn't hear him climbing down, he must have gone back the way
he came."

Michaela climbed down the tree and went into the woods near the
park. She was followed by all the robins in the park. When they
got to the hollow tree where the opossum lived, Michaela climbed
up to the opossum's hole and shouted, "Mr Opossum, you're in big
trouble!"

This was a very brave thing to do, because opossums also eat
mice. And instead of saying he was sorry, he jumped out of his
hole at Michaela mouse and tried to grab her. But she was
expecting this. She leaped aside and the opossum came flying out
of his hole and landed on the ground below, knocking himself
out.

This gave the robins time to go into his hole and carry the eggs
back to their own nest. And, thanks to the world's greatest
mouse detective, they all lived happily ever after.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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