Wednesday, May 14, 2008

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Catch it if you can

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If not for my joining the lab, you'll never see me handling rats--not here, not ever. But one can learn things--even acquire some form of love or appreciation for these mammalian experimental models--when he is forced to.

As part of my laboratory internship, I'm required to feed and check on the mice on the assigned day. It's usually with a partner, but if he/she comes late, I may have to do it myself. The hard part is not the feeding, per se, but catching those that have escaped from their cages. I don't know how they do it; mice are supposed to be dumb creatures.

Now catching an escapee requires more than just agility. It requires, above all, creativity, logic, and a great deal of patience. You isolate the mouse in a corner, you hold it by the tail, and you bring it to its cage. But, in real life, it's not as simple as that, as some mice (especially the hyperactive ones) may resist isolation by hiding in some rat hole while you blink your eye. And then you may have to start at square one.

Life is painful. But victory becomes all the sweeter after the hardship. The mouse room teaches you that.

(Here's Carlo's experience of the Mouse Room.)

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