Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A pair of fried eggs revealed the intruder.
My husband slid them from the tiny frying pan onto his plate, next to a slice of rustic 7-grain toast.
“Honey, look at this!” I heard him yell from the other room.
“What does this look like?” he asked, indicating what looked like a handful of ¼-inch-long, coal-black miniature seed pods.
“Caraway seeds?” I offered, perplexed.
“Mouse droppings,” he said, matter-of-factly.
“No way do we have a mouse,” I returned, never having encountered one in all my life.
But he was certain; dumped his plate in the garbage, then opened the metal drawer under the oven, where we store the pans.
“Yup!” he said, pulling out pot after pot onto the floor, inspecting the insides for droppings.
He was right. We had a mouse.
As visions of mousetraps snapped in my head, I cleaned the area, making sure to wash my hands afterward.
T scampered into the kitchen. “Here, mousey, mousey; chirp, chirp, CHIRP!” —like he was calling a cat.
The next morning as Dad and B slept, T and I hatched our plan.
“You know how Gramma has those mouse traps that snap shut and kill the mouse?” I asked him.
His eyes grew wide.
“I’m going to find out a way to capture the mouse without hurting him,” I said.
“Yippee!!” he yelled. “We’re gonna catch a m-owwwww-se.”
As I set about looking online for “humane mouse traps,” it occurred to me T was thinking we’d keep the little guy as a pet.
First we looked up “mouse droppings” to make sure we weren’t dealing with — gasp! — a rat.
Next, we watched two You-Tube videos demonstrating a homemade trap using white mice. It worked within minutes, the video assured us.
We had all the elements: a paper towel roll, peanut butter, cheese, newspaper, container, books and blocks.
I pulled out the under-oven drawer and T and I set up the trap in the now open area.
Stack up the books and blocks to the level of the trash can, place a gob of peanut butter at the end of the slightly flattened paper towel roll; balance it precariously, so the baited end is over the receptacle, crumple newspaper in the bottom; and place a slice of cheese on top. Move the contraption to the wall, where mice travel for safety.
The plan was the mouse, drawn to the dark hole of a tube to investigate, would run toward the peanut butter, his weight would force the tube into the garbage can and he’d land on soft newspaper, find the cheese, eat his heart out, then fall asleep with a full belly.
The first morning, T woke up before sunrise and thumped downstairs.
“We caught the mouse, Mom!” he yelled. I ran to the kitchen.
No mouse, just a tipped-over tube.
But, upon closer investigation, the cheese had tiny gnaw marks along all four sides.
We were on the right track.
The next night, we set out a toilet paper tube. And a deeper pail.
I asked T if he thought the mouse would remember the previous night’s trap.
“I don’t know,” T answered, after thinking a minute.
The next morning, T was up again early. “We caught the mouse, Mom!” he yelled. I ran to the kitchen.
No mouse. No tipped-over tube, either. This mouse was smart.
Inside the trash can, the now dried-up piece of American cheese bore the telltale mouse tooth marks.
From what I could tell, the only two ways this guy got out of that pail were another mouse held onto his tail as he walked around the toilet paper tube and dangled into the pail, nibbling to his heart’s content. Or, a friend pulled him out.
Stymied, frustrated and out of cheese, T and I took a break from setting up the trap last night.
But I’ve got plans. Tonight, I’m recruiting our 4-foot kitchen garbage can for duty.
T's got his flashlight ready.

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