Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This Rural Life II

The other day I went to feed my dog as I always do, right around 6:00 p.m. (For an animal with a very little brain, Becky has a real knack for knowing when it’s about to turn 6 – either morning or evening, she just knows when it is and turns her crazy on full blast, tap-dancing around the kitchen, making Chewbacca noises … it’s a whole show.) I took the dog dish out to the mudroom where the dog food is kept in a plastic kitchen-size trashcan. I flipped up the lid, picked up the metal measuring cup and scooped up a scoop of dog food. Standard Operating Procedure.

For some reason I glanced at the scoop of food rather than just dumping it into the dog dish. There, curled up on his side, fitting perfectly in the cup and staring right at me with a shiny, unblinking black button of an eye, was a mouse. Not S.O.P.! I gave a little squeak of surprise and dropped the cup back into the barrel, mouse and all. (What a frickin’ girl – jeesh.) After about three seconds I realized I was being a complete twinkie and peeked into the barrel just in time to see that illicit mouse frantically digging his way down into the dog kibble. Gingerly I scooped out Becky’s dinner – she was completely beside herself at this point – and closed the lid, leaving the little critter alone while I considered my next steps.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like mice. I used to have a couple of white ones as pets and I used to have an invisible person-sized one as an imaginary friend when I was a little girl. I could appreciate this little guy’s ingenuity: he was safe (mostly) in a dark and quiet (mostly) place, surrounded by all the food he could ever hope to eat – it was just his bad luck that I scooped when I did.

Problem is, I’m also pragmatic about the little varmints, never shedding tears when the family cats would leave mouse-pieces on the front porch; and I particularly don’t care to have mice scurrying loose around my house, leaving teeny mouse-poops in the cupboards. Plus, who knew what sort of nasty germs he was dragging around with him. I didn’t think Becky would get sick from eating food a mouse had been sleeping and/or pooping in, but I didn’t know for sure.

Here is how you get a pest mouse out of a plastic dog food barrel if you’re not sure he can climb back up the smooth plastic: you drape some clothesline inside the barrel, running it up and over the side with the other end resting on the garage floor. Now, at this point you have a couple of options. You can just leave well enough alone and hope that the little scutter will find his way outside again, a free mouse once more. Or you could place a covered mousetrap baited with extra-crunchy peanut butter nearby, check back the next day and toss the sprung trap in the garbage. I’m not saying which way I went because I don’t want to get the PETA people all up at arms if I picked the first option – which I’m not saying for sure that I did. However, I do have it on good authority that if you have red squirrels, another type of varminty rodent, in your attic, peanut butter gets them in the Havahart trap every time. I'm just sayin'.


  1. Peanut butter? Chris was locked in an all out battle with some squirrels living in our attic last summer. Tried the have a heart traps with no luck, so he bought a bee bee gun which he ended up not being able to use because the squirrels spawned a couple of really cute babies which he couldn't bring himself to shoot. So we named them, and then they got run over by a car. Go figure.

  2. Oh yes, peanut butter for sure. Those squirrels were a nightmare - we could hear them under the eaves when we were trying to sleep, scrabbling around in the wall behind the t.v. - so Mr. Mouse squeezed up into the attic crawlspace and set the havahart trap. It was such a pain to get up there that we didn't check back for over 24 hours and by then the little rodent was dead (apparently they scare themselves to death easily or something). So we pitched the carcass in the trash and rebaited with more peanut butter. Repeat. Until we hired a "squirrel excluder" (totally serious about that title) who blocked all the holes in the house. That guy was a genius (totally serious about that too).