Sometimes also called valley mites (particularly by the unschooled, and those who say newk-YOO-ler and may-sun-ARRY), these nasty vermin are found everywhere throughout the valleys of the north.
It was once suggested that valleys were responsible for the mice, rather than that the mice were responsible for the valleys. Early natural philosophers thought that the valley mice came into being because the valleys were there, and that valleys were suitable places for valley mice to live. Therefore, they thought, the valleys gave rise to the valley mice.
However, it is abundantly clear that these little beasts dig into the ground and create holes all over the place, after which some poor horse or pachyderm stomps on it and breaks a leg. The ground is crushed down another few inanits and, over time, this is how the valleys have come to be so deep and so numerous.
Valley mice also keep trees from growing by killing them at the roots. This is why lowland areas are generally devoid of trees. Valley mice are poor swimmers, and therefore swamplands and marshes are relatively free of their predations.
Valley mice colonies were extensively studied by Kmuppens' colleague Charles Clarke Grimdale (the grandfather of Johnny Lightning's robbery accomplice, Russell Grimdale). Most of what is known about valley mice comes from the studies done by Grimdale and his students. In recent years, no serious study of valley mice has been undertaken.
Valley Mice Habitat
The intersection of the Evesque Valley and the Andelphracian River Valley is the lowest place in all of Ghyll. While the two valleys do not explicitly cross each other, extending them geographically, they form a nexus point (which is not the same as a turning point) to other orthogonalities which centers very near to the Elminster Mire. This area, which includes some of the lowest and least hospitiable land to be found, is rife with valley mice burrowings, and seems to be the center of their colony. Though valley mice have been carried far and wide, they seem not to have thrived in captivity in any other locality, and remain creatures found principally in the north.
It has been postulated that valley mice consume the earth they tunnel through and then somehow expel it into another orthogonality. No one has come up with a better explanation of why they produce no splak or other waste products. Furthermore, because of the unusual manner in which valley mice propogate, it is thought that they may have some internal mechanism that allows them to cross orthogonalities. (If this is true, one must consider how awful the orthogonality that is filled with valley mice splak must be. Disgusting!)
Valley Mice Propogation
Valley mice are only found in colonies. Singles or pairs of valley mice will decorporate. As Grimdale found, valley mice undergo reorganization at local solar noon*. A group of three or four valley mice will be unaffected as long as they are sufficiently close to each other. Grimdale identified a radius of slightly more than half an unanit as the critical distance between valley mice. A valley mouse that is not within the radius of two or three other valley mice will decorporate. And a valley mouse that is within the radius of four or more others will also decorporate.
Whether decorporation is the equivalent of death for valley mice, or whether they move to a different orthogonality, is unknown. Grimdale believed that there was a special property of the valley mice that would repel other mice if there were too many nearby, forcing the extra numbers of valley mice into another orthogonality. He also believed this property caused small numbers of valley mice to be unable to retain their hold on this orthogonality, which led to their noontime disappearance when there were not sufficient numbers to maintain their hold.
Though Grimdale sought to explain how new valley mice come into being, he was never able to successfully explain the conditions under which new valley mice are created (or brought into this orthogonality). The reproductive properties of valley mice are largely unknown.
Nothing that could be definitively identified as a juvenile valley mouse has ever been discovered. Kmuppens was so annoyed by valley mice that he refused to officially classify them in his Taxonomy because they could not be conclusively proved as living creatures. Subsequent scholars have engaged in debates about potential classifications for the little buggers. Scholars of the Vitalist school do classify valley mice in their version of the Taxonomy, although they remain a minority among biological scientists. (Though I agree with the Vitalists on this point, in the interests of avoiding controversy, I have chosen not to list the Vitalist taxonomic designation for valley mice in this article.) Others who have studied valley mice have claimed to have seen valley mice instantaneously manifest (something like a reverse decorporation, I imagine) at local solar noon. Could this be the creation of new valley mice, or is the effect of decorporation to transfer them to an alternate location?
(*Of course, this allows very accurate clocks to be kept, even in caves or other locations that are inaccessible to daylight. When the valley mouse disappears, you know it's exactly solar noon. Horlog's mechanism is one of the simplest devices to take advantage of this property to start a clock when the lever becomes unbalanced by the valley mouse's disappearance.)
--Brother Arfrus 16:56, 20 October 2005 (EDT)