‘Twas some days before Christmas
And all through the flat
A small creature was moving
And it was named That . . .
Monday morning, as I grabbed something or other from our pantry, I encountered what looked suspiciously like mouse droppings. My first response was denial, but, although I’m no mouse-poop expert, I admitted with a sinking heart that we probably had an uninvited visitor. As additional evidence, I’d thought maybe I’d heard some sounds under/behind the oven over the weekend.
Still, Monday was a full day, and I didn’t think much more of it until that night. We put Gabriel into bed and settled on the couch to read and relax for a bit, when a distinct squeaking noise came from the kitchen. My biggest initial fear was that I would encounter it unexpectedly and scream while Gabriel was sleeping. With plans to get some traps the next day, I managed to sleep that night, with earplugs to cover any little scratching or squeaking.
On Tuesday morning, we found a few more droppings. And then, that afternoon, as I was sitting on the couch, nursing Gabriel after his nap, I looked over and saw the mouse, coming out from under the piano, scurrying around the dining room, focusing on the area underneath Gabriel’s chair.
I did not scream. In fact, I remained quite calm so as not to disturb Gabriel, though I shifted my feet off the floor. It continued to move about, a bit skittish if I made any sound, but it was still doing its thing when Gabriel finished nursing, so I quietly turned him toward the dining room and pointed.
After a few seconds, he noticed our visitor, and excitedly proclaimed, “That!” and so our mouse had a name.
That was really rather cute and kind-of fun to watch (from the safety of the couch). Still, I didn’t want That in the house, so I looked around for ways to do That in, thinking it would be easier to just be done with it and not bother with traps and uncertainty. By the time I manged to get the broom and the camera (debating between shooting it and whacking it), That decided to hide for several hours.
Matthew arrived home with two spring traps, and after Gabriel went to bed, we baited one with cheese and the other with almond butter. We put the cheese trap in the kitchen and the nut butter trap in the dining room.
Twenty minutes later, I went into the kitchen to grab something and saw That dash across the counter between the stove and the fridge. I called Matthew and suggested we move the trap from the floor to the counter, since it seemed to be a path That frequented. Matthew picked up the unsprung trap and did a double take. No cheese. Yep, it took That less then thirty minutes to discover and rob our trap.
I remembered noticing earlier that it looked like That’s tail had a bit of a kink, perhaps indicating an earlier run-in with a mouse trap. That was no novice. Thinking that sticky nut butter might be a better option, we rebated the kitchen trap with nut butter, and pushed a piece of cheese into the nut butter on the dining room trap.
Awhile later, Matthew saw That running across the dining room floor. He investigated, and we were down another piece of cheese. That: 2, Us: 0.
I wasn’t too worried about That damaging our food. Our general storage practices are relatively pest-proof: beans and grains sealed in glass jars with metal lids; nuts, flour, bread, and other baked goods in the freezer. However, Matthew discovered that That had made a mess behind the fridge, shredding some paper and such. (He also found out from our downstairs neighbors that they had no less than four mice last winter.)
After a bit of moving things around to try to flush it out from under the piano, we finally decided to call it a night. In a last-ditch attempt, I took a small bit of almond butter and rolled it in a container of seeds (leftover from those crackers that have mixed seeds on top), and we rebaited the dining room trap with my creation. My theory was that mice like to eat little seeds and things, and the tiny seeds would be much harder to remove than a chunk of cheese, increasing the chances that That would spring the trap.
The mess, threat of damage to non-food goods, and chance of That discovering our produce stores in the basement, along with the whole mice carrying diseases thing, combined to seal That’s eviction notice. Still, I didn’t hold much hope for the spring traps that he seemed to thumb his nose at. We went to bed, debating other types of traps to try.
We woke this morning, and Matthew went to pick up the traps before Gabriel discovered the one on the floor. Given my very low expectations, Matthew’s, “Um, we caught something,” definitely took me by surprise. Against all odds, my seed-coated nut butter blob did the trick.
That the Mouse
I did a ton of cleaning this morning, pulling out both the stove and the fridge, vacuuming poop, and wiping down counter tops. There’s a chance that That was acting alone, but I’ll be watching for signs for a few days. Given the history of mice in the this building, I’m afraid we may yet see some of That’s relatives. At least I know how to bait the trap . . . .