Warning: If you like mice, don’t read.
The invasion started simply enough. My son wanted a mouse trap. He had a mouse that was keeping him up at night. This was not terribly unusual. We live in a big old farm house that was built 1900 +/- and have the occasional rodent visitor, but it would be a short-lived stay. One of the five cats roaming the house and yard would see to that.
This particular year, however, it was just foreshadowing to the numerous mice, moles, voles and other tiny big-eared pointy-nosed critters we would host. One family took up residence in the stove. Leo (formerly “Barn Kitty”) worked tirelessly, and they disappeared. Bob (aka “Yellow Kitty”) would be playing with his catch only to have the dog gulp it up. With only a tail dangling from his mouth, I’d rush to the door to let Mushu out. Even Crysta, the eighteen-year-old declawed cat with kidney disease managed to leave me a couple of bodies for disposal.
This is my preferred method of rodent control. I try my best to have an appreciation for all of Nature’s creatures. There are some I struggle to find that appreciation–round worms and mosquitoes come to mind. Others, like mice, I have no problem with in the abstract or the barn. It’s only when they move into my home and leave droppings in the drawers and eat my flannel sheets that I really take offense.
This is the situation I found myself in. While allowing the natural order of cat and mouse games is my preferred method of rodent control, it just wasn’t working. Crysta’s old body was shutting down, and the mice seemed to realize they had a mouse wonderland in the upstairs. I couldn’t let the other cats upstairs because of her neurosis.
I had to do something. I emptied the closets and dressers to scrub them out with sanitizing wipes. Before putting back the things I didn’t have to throw away, I had to get rid of the rodents. I struggled with the method of elimination. Poison was out of the question–it would be way too cruel and smelly. I didn’t want to make the cats sick if they should catch a poisoned mouse. I’d heard horror stories of those sticky paper traps. I finally decided the good ole spring-loaded knock ’em in the head mousetrap would be the most humane.
I purchased my traps and prepared to set them. To my amazement, the package said these traps required no bait. Being a bit skeptical of this claim, I used my favorite mouse bait–cat food and set the traps. This closet; that closet; this drawer; that drawer. The next morning I checked them. No cat food was left in three of the traps, but there were no mice either. Ever the optimist, I patted myself on the back for my good placement choices and began to resign myself to having mice forever.
I checked again that night–same results. Nothing new in the morning. that afternoon I rushed in to change and do chores when I remembered the traps. No change until the bottom dresser drawer where I had two traps. One was sitting there no longer set and empty. The other was not to be seen. I pulled the drawer all the way out but didn’t see it under the dresser. I looked beside it and just wondered how this mouse could drag the whole trap away. It had to be the bionic mouse on steroids! A bit concerned with what little space to which it had taken my trap, I decided to check a bit closer. I got my flashlight and checked in the little dark nooks and crannies under the dresser, but still no luck. Finally, I picked up the obviously chewed up flannel sheet from the drawer and there it was, still very much alive and moving with the trap securely attached to its back leg. So much for the quick and humane whack.
I just stared, wondering how on earth I was going to get rid of the creature and get my trap back. I really had no desire to pick the trap up and was even less excited about opening the trap. Finally, I picked up drawer, trap and mouse inside, and carried it downstairs. I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew I wanted it outside. With no better plan than that, I set the drawer on the table and went for the slip on shoes. As I turned around, I saw Bob approach the drawer. It was too late for me to do anything. As if it were happening in slow motion, I watched Bob reach in to sniff things out. The mouse opened his mouth. Bob jerked his head back with the mouse dangling from his lip and the trap still hanging from the poor mouse.
It was only a second before the mouse fell to the table, but this had just confirmed my feeling that I really didn’t want to get my hands anywhere near that mad mouse. Now, it was sitting on the table. For some strange reason, I still had the flashlight in my hand, and I entertained the idea of giving it a good whack and just ending the fiasco. Then I had nightmare visions of missing or hitting Bob or just making a mess, so instead I used the flashlight to brush him off the table and back into the drawer.
I opened the door and stepped outside, once again carrying the mouse in the drawer. I still didn’t have a plan. The thought of the mouse dangling from Bob’s lip came to mind, and I finally just dumped it in the light dusting of snow on the deck. I was still contemplating what to do next when Stella, the great Pyrenees ambled past and in one smooth motion picked up the mouse with the trap now dangling from her mouth. As she went down the steps, I waved and called after her, “Bring the trap back when you’re done,” knowing all along I’d have to wait until spring before I could pick it up from the yard.