A Mouse in the House No More

Simply brazen.

That is what he was. In the middle of my (remote) newscast he jumped across my keyboard. I kept reading the news – a mouse cannot phase me. But, no Sir, this mouse would not mock me by running out in broad daylight and in front of my eyes. Mice hide. They are discreet, sneaky, crafty.

I should have been prepared. We moved into our house just when COVID was kicking into full gear – the first time – pre-Delta, pre-Omicron. One of the reasons we selected this house was its proximity to school and the fact that it was in an area that had reliable Internet access. And no, I am not joking about the Internet access. And, thank Goodness, too because when I closed on my home everything else closed too. Remember those days?

My realtor described our home as “modest,” and warned me that it had been vacant for a year. Before that it was…the “R” word. Sadly, he said, “It was a rental.” As a former renter myself, I resented the anti-renter sentiment but understood that not everyone takes care of their rented properties. Between that and the fact that it was empty for at least a year he warned me that we were going to have to hire pest control to come in following the inspection for bugs, carpenter bees, and probably snakes. “They will do it before closing,” he said, “but you are going to want to do it again soon afterward.” I should have assumed that mice were in that category too but, for some reason, I did not.

Fast forward to many months later when the cat handled at the door to my office. Yes, he howled. He only does that for very specific reasons. Among those reasons is the presence of a mouse.

We had not seen Jumpy (yep, now he has a name) for a long time. That is, until he ran across my keyboard during a newscast. I hated to do it but, reluctantly, I put traps all over. I baited them with peanut butter, jerky, apples. I am embarrassed to have done this. I am a vegetarian, after all. But I have other animals, and I was worried about diseases and critters eating away at my life, photographs, memories. I was worried about THE PLAGUE. Two weeks went by and no mice. The bait was gone, the traps were set, but no mice.

No mice were harmed, or even caught, with this mouse trap. Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

No mice were harmed, or even caught, with this mouse trap. Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

…or this one. Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

…or this one. Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Well-meaning friends told me, “You have to get them. Where’s there’s one there are fifty.” Again, we have a cat so I do not think that there are fifty. I also loved the “Oh, they’re so dirty, You have to make certain everything is clean.” Yep, everything is clean. Then, my favorite, “Oh, that’s because you have so many animals.” We have two dogs and a cat. We have fish, quail, and a worm farm. The quail are outside – as are the worms.

Baby Quail Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Baby Quail Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

The traps were empty but I did not see the mouse for weeks. Then, one morning – again during a newscast, he waltzed across my desk. Yes, waltzed. There was no fear in his eyes. He came to listen and see if I had any breakfast. I shooed jumpy away. He left for a few minutes and then came back. He poked his head out from behind my printer and just looked at me.

His eyes were ginormous. His little body was so delicate. His fur was so shiny. I beamed with gratitude that such a fine-looking and proud mouse had taken up residence in my home. I apologised to the Universe for trying to trap him in one of those terrible things. But I still did not want him actually in my home. We have a fine garden that the fine mouse can live in so that I do not have to worry about him chewing up my fine little office supplies.

Pen Eaten by Jumpy the Mouse December 2021 Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Pen Eaten by Jumpy the Mouse Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

He knows my secret. The traps really were not set properly and I could not hurt him. He exploited the fact that I love animals.

Petting Pig 12122021 Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

I searched and searched for humane ways to catch mice. For those of you who may doubt it, mice have a strong fan base. Just ask the Internet. I finally found a solution that I thought might work. If you Google “Humane Mouse Trap YouTube” you will find some great traps. After watching at least seven videos (probably more but I am not going to admit that) I made my own version of the one that seemed to be the most popular and worked the best.

Garbage Can Mouse Trap Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Garbage Can Mouse Trap Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

It is a garbage can with the lid slightly modified to be predisposed to lean inward, a bridge or ladder (in this case a piece of screening), topped with peanut butter and sunflower seeds. Initially I put sunflower seeds on tape but the peanut butter made that unnecessary.

I received great support from those from whom I had asked for guidance. “That’ll never work” was the guidance most often heard.

Two days later I was sitting at my desk typing and realised that I had not seen Jumpy in a while. Could it be that one of my traps worked? And that, gulp, I had killed him? I quickly searched the traps and gathered them. How could I have thought to trap him like that? I actually missed him. I missed his brazen but cute little face. At 3:30 in the morning he was my little companion. Yes, I was losing it.

I felt like he was in the room. Could he be watching me? Wait a minute…could he have actually fallen inside the garbage can trap? I did not hear anything but felt like he could be in there. I opened up the lid and two beautiful eyes looked up at me. “Hello!” I was so happy that he was alive.

My apologies for the photo quality. Jumpy was really not cooperating – but the video below – though short – is better quality.

Inside of the Garbage Can Mouse Trap Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Inside of the Garbage Can Mouse Trap Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Obviously well fed…Jumpy the Mouse Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Obviously well fed…Jumpy the Mouse Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Jumpy Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Jumpy Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

I sent a text to my mouse trap success-doubting advisors. I put a bunch of sunflower seed at the bottom of the “trap” and set him free far away from the house under a small critter paradise of honeysuckle and holly bushes.

I give him at least four days before he finds his way back inside.

(The hand is my daughter’s and the sniffing sound is from Sawyer, one of our dogs.)

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