• August 30, 2014

Holidays were nice, except for the mice

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Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:51 am, Wed Jul 16, 2014.

I was in disbelief, sitting in the kitchen with a friend drinking coffee.

“I think a mouse just jumped out of the dog food bowl,” my friend said.

My response was an appalled, “No!” but as we continued talking, the field mouse interrupted the flow of our conversation by darting out from behind the fridge, retrieving a morsel of dog food, and scurrying back to wherever his home was. He was greeted by tiny cheers, which we heard through the wall.

We purposefully resumed talking, and sure enough, the mouse reappeared, and with a little mouse friend. At one point, I saw three, which apparently was my breaking point.

“I can’t handle more than one,” I said, as if one mouse is acceptable. “I think there’s a problem.”

And the problem sounded as if an entire army of field mice had moved into the attic, confirmed by my friend:

“I think there’s an entire army of field mice in your attic, and they’re likely to invade your bedroom while you’re sleeping.”

I called my mom, because moms know how to fix everything, including field mice. She was unimpressed by my calamity.

“It’s cold outside and they want to be warm,” she explained. “Set some traps and you’ll be fine. This is actually pretty normal.”

My friend and I discussed the most humane way to eliminate the problem, agreeing that neither of us wanted to see or hear the evidence of death. We decided on enclosed circular mouse traps that, when set, would shut on an unsuspecting critter that crawled inside for the bait. After setting three, we left the house.

Here’s when we figured out we weren’t dealing with mice of just regular intelligence. Upon our return, we discovered that they managed to trigger two of the traps, and escape.

“We tried to do this the nice way,” my friend said to the wall. “But you’ve forced us to resort to extreme measures.”

We brought home eight snap traps and cheap peanut butter. My friend took the lead in setting them. Our first catch was her thumb, and then the trap went sailing across the kitchen, and then into my leg. It was determined to be a faulty trap, but it was fixed by earnest use of needle-nosed pliers and determination not to waste it.

Finally, all eight traps were set and carefully placed along the mice’s route behind the fridge to the dog food bowl. There was no escaping this valley of death, or so we thought.

The next couple of days were marked with Christmas-morning excitement.

“I can’t wait to check the traps,” she said, while I unlocked the front door after we’d been gone most of the afternoon.

“Is there anything in them yet?” I wondered while she shined the flashlight behind the fridge.

“Are you going to check the traps?” she asked, meeting me in the kitchen at dawn one morning when I was letting the dogs outside.

We caught one, which caused great joy. It was placed in a plastic bag (mouse trap and all), held at arm’s length and disposed of.

The mouse traps have been silent since, eliciting Google searches like, “Can mice smell death?” “How to catch intelligent mice.” “Does catching one mouse send a clear message?”

Along with the mouse traps being quiet, so are the walls, and the attic. I’m not sure if the others have detected our animosity, and I don’t need to know as long as our agreement is clear: field mice stay outside; we stay inside.

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