Tuesday, January 25, 2011

High-Living Mouse

Meadow Glenn's top mouse locator

I was drafting a posting three weeks ago when I heard a new noise. I stopped typing and cocked my head to focus my ears. No, it wasn’t a heating vent expanding or contracting. No, it wasn’t a PVC pipe letting me know water was flowing to the hallway bathroom. It was light scratching by a small animal, likely small claws on a piece of paper.

I listened from time to time but heard it no more that evening. A week later I was again typing and the scratching began again.

A mouse. Yes, it had to be a mouse. We have mice here in rural residential—white-footed mice, voles (meadow mice), and, I suppose, plain mice mice. On January 3 I posted “Snap Goes the Mouse,” about buying traps that I had placed at strategic locations to catch this winter’s crop of home invaders. To date those traps have caught a total of, well, zero mice.

I figured the scratching was coming from the storage closet in my study. I slid open the mirrored doors and glanced around. “That’s strange,” I thought. “There’s no backdoor for mice into the closet. The walls are solid sheet rock.”

I closed the door and resumed typing. Fifteen minutes later—the scratching in the closet resumed. I open the doors again and checked more thoroughly. “There’s no place for a mouse to hide,” I thought, “but it has to be in there somewhere.”

Armed & ready
The next morning I baited a new Victor snap trap with peanut butter and put it in the closet. Every day for a week or more I checked the trap. Every day I found—a baited trap armed and ready.

Last weekend I was again typing, and Teddy, our vacationing granddog, was curled near my recliner. He growled and looked up, and I realized he was growling at the scratching. I again opened the closet doors, but Teddy didn’t seem interested.

Yes, Teddy wanted to check out the peanut-butter smell, but I thought a Maltese with a mouse trap hanging on his nose wouldn’t be a happy Maltese.

The evening after I took Teddy home, I again was typing, and I heard the scratching. Suddenly my mind added 1+1 and came up with—2. Teddy had looked up when he growled. The scratching wasn’t in the closet. It was in the attic. It added up—made sense.

The attic? The only way into that crawl space—which is filled mostly with fiberglass insulation, insulated heating ducts, wiring, and frigid, winter air is by ladder via two small ceiling doors, one at each end of the house.

On Wednesday I went out to the shop and brought in a 6-foot step ladder. I got a piece of cardboard to put on top of insulation near the ceiling door in the hallway just outside my study, retrieved the snap trap from my study closet, and in short order had the trap set in the attic.

Thursday I brought in the ladder again to check the trap. “Hmm,” I thought, “no mouse. Did Teddy lead me on a wild mouse chase?”

Friday I brought in the ladder again. Yes—one mouse—a male white-footed mouse—had been killed by the snap trap. I took the dead mouse out to the yard for recycling by a nighttime visitor, most likely a fox, but it was gone within the hour, perhaps brunch for a neighborhood crow.

Then I reset the snap trap. If I caught a male mouse, is there a female—or a whole litter living up there?

Mice in our attic have no imaginable food or water supply unless they're dining on brown marmorated stink bugs.  I’ve had traps set in the kitchen and in the laundry room for months—and have caught nary a mouse. If mice can live in our attic two storeys from a regular food supply, I suppose we humans could live on the moon—or could we?

I've checked the reset trap several times, and I've caught no more mice.   It's time to disarm the trap and take the ladder back out to the shop.

If you want to read my earlier mouse posting, “Snap Goes the Mouse,” CLICK HERE.

1 comment:

  1. 'morning, Bob... another great mouse tale, and I loved how the grand dog pointed out where to look for the critter. So cute.

    My house, new in 2008, barely had the paint dry when I heard scratching in my attic. I set three traps up there, different sizes, using peanut butter, and never caught anything in them. It was a year later, when opening the side of my bathtub for the termite inspector, we found a dead field mouse. Oh. I'd place poison pellets in the garage, and the little fella must have brunched on them before heading into the wall. I'm sure the critters come into my garage, go into the walls, and from there they have the full run, including attic. It must not be a friendly environment though, for I don't hear scratching... yet.