Friday, January 28, 2011

Catch and Release

When Pat, Miles and I went up to our garage for work this week, we discovered we had mice. Well, actually, we discovered we had mice poop, and made the next inference from there. Lord knows where they came from. Our outpost is in the middle of a barren wasteland without so much as a blade of grass. If a mouse did find itself in our neighborhood, I can't blame it for wanting to bunk up with us. I probably wouldn't have objected to hosting it, except for its tendency to poop EVERYWHERE. If you want to know where a mouse has been, check and see if there's poop; if yes, then yes; if no, then probably not (but maybe still yes). At this point we wrote on our chalkboard under "Things to get from town": Mouse trap. But the nights are long up there and we don't have many distractions, so catching mice seemed like a nice way to while away the evening.
What did we have to make a trap with? Well, we had a bucket. Maybe if we put food in the bottom, the mouse would drop in for a bite to eat, and then voila, it's trapped. Now what to feed it? It might like some things more than others, so to be safe, we made it Miles's favorite snack: An open-faced-almond-butter-jelly-and-banana sandwich.

Don't it look good?

So then we simply placed the bucket by a ledge that we knew the mouse frequented (it was covered in shit) and waited.

Mouse trap next to mouse thoroughfare

I slept fretfully that night, dreaming of mice. But when I awoke in the morning and checked our trap, there was an adorable little mouse looking terrified back up at me with those black doe eyes. He had hardly even touched his sandwich.

Isn't he cute?

We were somewhat at a loss of what to do. We weren't going to kill it. We couldn't set it free nearby. And we weren't going back down for a few days, so we had to just leave it in the bucket till we could give it a ride back to town. So we put a capful of water in the bucket, tucked it away on a shelf under the sink, and went to work. But at lunch time, the mouse was gone! Somehow the thing had leaped out of a bucket about 50 times its height. We were back where we started.
That night, with nothing better to do, we devised another mouse trap. Because of its trauma the night before, we thought the mouse might have developed a suspicion of the bucket, so we made our trap more clever this time.

Gettin clever

We took the same bucket, but drilled two screws at the top to act as a fulcrum, and then a third screw between them to act as a stopper. Then we cut out a top for the bucket which could pivot on the fulcrum screws, but would be stable on one side. Then we placed a morsel of its favorite snack (almond butter and banana) at the unstable side. The idea was that the mouse would walk out on the plank, and as soon as it passed the halfway mark, it would be dumped into the bucket. In case it tried to make one last leap away, we put a backboard on the bucket too.

Here, mousey mousey

This one worked too! Pat heard the trap trip in the middle of the night and got up to put on a lid. Good thing, because for several minutes I could hear the mouse bouncing around in the bucket, but by morning it was docile and doe-eyed again.

Slaking his thirst (Poop Everywhere!)

This time we were careful about keeping the bucket sealed, and the next day we took our friend down with us.


We put much thought into his new home, and settled on a grassy, dry creek bed many miles from our garage.


I hope he fares well.

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