(WTVY) Sometimes we adopt them, sometimes they adopt us.
If we adopt them, it's because we can put them to use. We feed and care for them gladly. We call them pets and adore them. If they adopt us, it's because they put us to use. We feed and care for them against our will. We call them pests and do our best to exterminate them. Collies versus cockroaches, in a manner of speaking. Collies -- think Lassie -- being among our most adored pets, cockroaches being among our most loathed pests.
Which brings us to the mouse, a species with which we have had a long and complicated relationship.
We call virtually any small, furry, long-tailed, pointy-nosed animal a mouse. As a result, there are deer mice, beach mice, grasshopper mice, harvest mice, wood mice, pocket mice, jumping mice, spiny mice, birch mice, dormice, and too many others to mention. But the ones I'm talking about - the one you are most likely to find evidence of in your cupboard -- are called, appropriately enough, house mice.
House mice adopted us around ten thousand years ago when humans first developed agriculture in the Middle East between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the area that is now Iraq. Soon after inventing agriculture, we invented storage bins in which to keep our harvested grain through the winter and guard against famine.