Tuesday 29 June 2010

Meet the 'radical rodent' surfing mice

Fred Attewill - 28th June, 2010

Say aloha to the radical rodents – a mischievous bunch of fearless mice, who love nothing more than catching a wave and shooting a curl.

What’s more, the semi-amphibious crew’s pictures haven’t been digitally manipulated – they really are surfing on tiny handmade boards.

‘It’s a really stimulating way for them to live. Much more than just being stuck in a cage all their lives,’ said boat builder and surfing mouse breeder (yes, really) Shane Wilmott.

The 39-year-old Australian builds the mini-boards and begins the team’s training in his Gold Coast home.

He said: ‘I teach them how to do it in the bath at first, so they can get used to their custom made boards.

‘Once they’ve got some confidence we move out to my pool and tow them around with a remote controlled boat.’

But it’s when Peanut, Skidmark, Rocket and Banzai hit the beach that they get to show off the skills that pay the bills, shredding the surf and slotting in the tube just like the full-size pros – albeit on tiny wavelets in shallow water.

‘I only do it because I feel they are safe,’ said Mr Wilmott.

‘Gulls are a realistic threat so I have to stay close by to make sure my guys are safe. These guys aren’t just my pets, they’re my mates too – I care about them a lot.’

We may consider their natural environment to be round the bottom of food bins, but mice are naturally excellent swimmers.

‘So if they come off, they are fine and just paddle around until I collect them,’ said Mr Wilmott.

Since teaching his first mice to surf 25 years ago, eight-month-old Banzai and chums are the third generation of surf-mad antipodean cheese-munchers to receive his expert tutoring.

‘Me and a few mates were hanging out at the beach years ago, watching these perfect little waves form really close to the shore,’ he added.

‘I remember wishing I was tiny so that I could have a go on these perfect specimens... Then it hit me that a mouse on a tiny board could do it.’

More photos at: http://www.metro.co.uk/weird/833261-meet-the-radical-rodent-surfing-mice

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