So last week's story...I'd seen a mouse in our pantry! And in my rush to save the groceries we'd just bought, I stuffed everything back into their paper grocery bags and left them in the middle of the kitchen floor. Surely no rodent would be bold enough to cross the floor right under our feet!
But I was to learn exactly what those gutsy little critters were capable of...
John started heating some dinner, just as we both heard it.
A very loud rustling. We stuck out heads back in the pantry and listened, then I pointed to the top shelf. “It’s right there.”
John, far more heroic and far less mouse-revolted than I, reached for the shelf and moved a can of pumpkin out of the way.
The mouse was there, all right. It streaked behind a roasting pan full of picnic supplies, and emerged on the other side, next to a liter of olive oil. There it paused—I swear it seemed to be looking right at John, as if taking his measure. Then it flashed out of sight again.
“Honey, can’t you just…smack it with something?” I asked desperately.
“What do you want me to do?” replied John. “Go after it, with all this stuff in the way?”
I could see his point—imagining the two of us madly flinging groceries aside, John trying to hit the mouse with the bottle of olive oil, as it led us on a merry chase.
“I’ll get some traps,” said John, and headed into the cold to fetch a couple from the shop. He’d learned over the years that peanut butter was a terrific mouse bait, and kept a jar of the cheap stuff dedicated to mouse-bait. More recently, he’d found out that peanut butter topped with a dab of bacon grease was even better!
“The peanut butter is frozen solid,” he said when he came inside. “So it’ll just be bacon grease.”
“I’m sure that’ll work.” It would be easy to catch this guy. If he was fearless enough to find his way into the house, he’d come back for more chow!
|Kitchen traps that the mouse completely ignored!|
John set two traps and placed them on the pantry floor. I was too grossed out to eat dinner yet, so I yarded out all the vulnerable food items, in either plastic or cardboard, and filled more paper bags. Now we had a small island of overflowing grocery bags sitting on the floor.
The whole time, I listened for a Snap! And though I heard nothing, every other minute I peered into the panty to see if our mousetrap had gotten a customer.
“I wonder if it’s the cold that tempted them into the house,” John remarked, getting a fire going in the woodstove. (In addition to being more heroic, he is far more philosophical than I am about things like rodents.)
“I was thinking that myself,” I said. The forecast for the next few days showed a severe northeaster on the way, and temperatures would drop near zero. Pretty much unheard of in our area. Any sensible mouse would be seeking a warmer place to hang out.
Obviously, I had plenty of other, more critical things to worry about, like frozen pipes and power outages. But the thought of that mouse haunted me. Way past midnight, I was still checking the pantry every few minutes, knowing I would hardly sleep a wink with that rodent in my kitchen.
But the critter had completely disappeared.
The next day, I arose without my usual enthusiasm. Here it was, just days before Christmas when, after being away, I was eager to start my annual holiday baking binge, and listen to Christmas carols. Instead, I had no choice but to houseclean the pantry from stem to stern.
The next day, spent decluttering and wiping down pantry shelves, I saw no sign of a mouse. Nor heard the welcome snap of a mousetrap. Apparently this mouse wasn’t as gutsy as I thought, staying on the down-low while I was in his way.
Still, it was kind of ridiculous that such a small critter could have such a mighty effect—it had gotten me to tackle this pantry makeover, which would have never happened otherwise.
By evening, after hours of cleaning, I had discovered the mouse had not limited himself to the two shelves where we’d seen him: there were droppings on every single shelf. He’d chewed on a sack of popcorn and a one of sunflower nuts, and had created a little pile of them inside my roasting pan.
Clearly, he was setting up his digs for the winter.
Not in my pantry! I vowed. As I shook the nuts into the trash, John came in from the back part of the house. “You won’t believe this,” he said grimly, “but I saw a mouse in the bathroom.”
“All the way to the back bathroom?” Oh, dear Lord, we had a mouse subway in the house! “So that’s where he got to!”
“I’ll move the traps,” said John, and I followed him back. He carefully placed one near the toilet, where he’d seen the mouse, and one in the bathroom closet where it disappeared.
I checked the closet, where we’d been keeping more of our winter food stores: jars of nut butter, maple syrup in thick plastic jugs, tomato sauce in lined, aseptic boxes, and a plastic bottle of olive oil, and found more mouse droppings behind the groceries. Despite the sturdy packaging, the mouse had smelled the food!
Doubly grossed out that the mouse could be all over our house, I worked on finishing my pantry project. A couple of hours later, I went to use the bathroom. And what do you know.
On the floor were two dead mice.
One had been caught in the trap in the closet. The other was a bit of a mystery. It was lying dead, about a foot away from the other mousetrap. I suppose it had sprung the trap and been injured, but had somehow extricated itself. Instead of making a clean getaway, it kicked the bucket.
Well, thank God it hadn’t died under the house, where we couldn’t find it.
I took photos for posterity, thinking it was a little grisly to post them here. But squeamish person that I am, seeing this pic reminds me to stay vigilant!
|Mouse mystery—two feet from the trap?|
In any event, John took care of the corpses, as he is our “doer of the dirty work,” while I cleaned the floor. He rebaited the traps and set them in the same spots.
We left the traps in the bathroom all week. And nothing happened. I finally took one trap back to the shop, then a few days later, the other one.
Two weeks later, the inside of our house still seems to be mouse-free. John has rededicated himself to keeping the traps in the crawlspace and the shop freshly baited, with solid success.
I have dedicated myself to keeping the pantry in shipshape order, taking impeccable care that anything that might attract vermin is stored in mouse-proof storage containers. And checking for little black bits every time I go in there.
Even if this invasion was an isolated incident, though, I’m sure of two things: I can never unsee that live mouse in my pantry, or the dead ones in the bathroom. Never again will I be blithe about mice in my house!