One of my favorite family pics of almost all of us a few years ago!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Part 2 of 2 - "Take Only Pictures. Leave Only Footprints."

STOP: If you haven’t read Part 1 of this story, scroll down to the previous link and read the story with the same title first.  

Sometime this week -- between the time that I discovered undeniable evidence that a small rodent was living in our car and yesterday -- one of my clever girls strategically placed three milk duds in the glove compartment on top of the tire warranty and the shredded tampon.  Whether she felt sorry for the little guy or just wanted to experiment, I don’t  know.  (Don’t ask why we didn’t remove the shredded tampon when it was originally discovered.  I have no explanation.)

When -- purely out of habit I might add -- I reached in the glove compartment to get a napkin to wipe the muddy footprints off the seat where people have to step in order to get to the far back seat, I was startled to see what looked like three droppings from a much larger animal.

Upon closer inspection, I recognized them as milk duds with the chocolate chewed off!  If any doubt remained as to whether the creature was still on the loose – it was removed.

It was time to bring out the big guns – my husband and the mouse traps.  For the record, my husband now tells me that he didn’t doubt that a creature was in the car on the trip home, he’d just tried to catch them so many times before that he knew the stealth creature wasn’t going to allow itself to be found on the side of the interstate, so he just waited.  Unfortunately, tracking down and destroying small rodents is a skill he has developed over the years. But those are other stories which I have not yet written.

WARNING: If you are an animal rights activist, work for the humane society or belong to PETA – you might want to stop reading here.  The rest of the story involves some minor violence.

We make it a policy to keep our house open to everyone and stray animals are no exception.  For the most part, we don’t kill spiders or other small insects if we can simply slide them onto paper and put them outside where they belong.  But we draw the line at creatures that invade our personal space and destroy or contaminate things or people.  Houseflies, stinging insects, roaches, rodents that are not caged, and scorpions fall into that category.

We live in the woods and we pay professional pest and rodent control services dearly every month in the hopes that we’ll never have to do the dirty work ourselves.  But, to date, no professional has ever caught a rodent in our home – or car.  It’s always a family effort, led by my husband – using our collective wits and brains to outsmart the rodents.  We always win – but it takes time and every brain cell we can muster.

Last night, my husband went looking for mousetraps.  Much to our surprise, one of our kids admitting to having an unopened package in her room.  When asked why, she mumbled something about buying traps and shaving cream on the camping trip as part of a practical joke they were planning to play on my husband. We didn’t ask any more questions… “Just go get the mouse traps,” we ordered.

Step One:  Mouse trap with peanut butter in the glove compartment.

We’ve been told by the professionals that peanut butter smells great and lures the rodent to the trap.  They are correct.  If you want to feed a rodent – be sure to use lots of peanut butter. What they don’t mention is that the animals can simply lick it – never setting off the trigger device.   We have learned to use this step as an appetizer – lulling the smart creature into a false sense of security. Thirty minutes after setting the trap, the peanut butter is completely gone, the trap is untouched, and on a diet of milk duds and peanut butter, we don’t have anything but a fatter rodent.

Step Two:  A ball of cheese molded around the trigger device.

This method is not without its draw backs, but it requires slightly more effort on the part of the rodent.  They tend to be like humans and try to take all the cheese at once.  This is the cause of their ultimate demise.  Greed.  Funny.  That’s so human.

Anyway, this time we let the trap stay overnight. Sure enough, the next morning, our 8-year-old, and as of today the only boy in the house – runs to check the trap and finds that our plan has worked.  Caught with his mouth on the proverbial cheese ball, he met his fate.  It was a mouse.  Which was a relief.  Rats are really disgusting.

He’s brown and furry and really kind of cute.  I take a moment to mourn because I actually like mice.  But not if they are living in my car under cover of darkness.  That’s a little unnerving.

So, unless the mouse has brought his family – we should be back to business as usual -- with enough leftover food and trash in our car to feed a small third-world country, but with one less mouse to feed! 

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