An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Killing Mickey

Since my grandma has been staying with my aunt and uncle across the street, her house has taken on quite a few new mousy residents. I can't really blame them, as November in Missouri is generally chilly and disagreeable, but at the same time we don't really want to share space with mice.

It wasn't until the morning after we arrived that we discovered the little varmints. The wife had stepped into my grandma's pantry to look for something breakfasty and discovered two of the mice brazenly sitting on the pantry shelves, munching on dry spaghetti. They really didn't seem to care that she was there until she made a move to whack them, at which point they dropped their pasta and scurried down the water-pipes and power cord that connected to the water heater, then disappeared into a hole in the wall.

A similar incident had happened during last year's Thanksgiving holiday and then, as now, I was the guy who had to find Grandma's bag of mouse traps, bait them, lay them out in high mouse-traffic areas, and then haul away the mousey corpses afterward. We had good success baiting them with peanut butter last year, so that's what I used this year. Unlike cheese, which some mice are able to abscond with, the mice have to stick around to lick the peanut butter off the trap release and *SNAP* it's all over. Unfortunately, not every mouse is a fan of peanut butter. (Heathens!) On more than one occasion this year, we spied a mouse walk right up to the trap, take a good whiff of peanut butter then walk around the trap and continue on his mousey way.

Over the course of the weekend we tried various baits to varrying effect. My Uncle Jerry baited several traps with raw bacon, which was a bit more successful than the peanut butter. That is, until we ran through our carnivorous mice supply and were stuck with the vegetarian mice. Must have had a few vegan mice too, cause our cheese-baited traps went untouched as well.

We probably should have stuck with the raw spaghetti. The ones in the pantry seemed to like it well enough. In fact, when the wife returned to the pantry to check the traps she found them empty of dead mice, but could hear the distinctive sound of mice teeth-a-munching coming from the shelves again. I came in to help her and we removed can after can from the shelf, searching for the sneaky mouse. We finally narrowed the sound down a bit and figured he was hiding behind a glass pitcher that was filled with open packages of raw spaghetti. Except when we removed the pitcher from the shelf only mouse droppings remained. Then, the noise continued and we realized it was coming from within the pitcher. Sure enough, down in the bottom of the pitcher, inside the spaghetti packet itself, was the mouse. He didn't seem to mind that his dinner area was being held aloft at all. He just kept right on munching.

I stuffed a towel in the top of the pitcher and carried it out the back door and walked nearly the entire way across the huge field behind Grandma's house. Then, I dumped the contents out onto the ground and shook the mouse out of the spaghetti package. He immediately sprang toward me, then disappeared altogether. I was afraid he might be on me somewhere, but then saw him bouncing toward some taller grass. I flicked the towel in his direction until he began bouncing again, headed away from the direction of Grandma's house.

The other mice weren't too concerned about being seen either. Aunt Crystal reported that one ran across her bed, nearly causing her to flee to a hotel. And the wife and I watched another tiny little mouse for about ten minutes as it openly walked through the living room, sniffing the traps and washing its fur. Sure, if we spoke to it or moved at all it would zip under a couch, but it always returned. Sometimes it would even walk within stomping distance of me as I stood and watched it, but I just couldn't bring myself to squash it--not that I'm fast enough to have succeeded even if I'd tried.

My dad said that what mice really want is to be housepets. They'd like nothing better than to get the same treatment as a dog or cat, with free food and a warm place to sleep. From the ones we saw, I'd say that's probably true.

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