(I may have made it worse by mentioning Hantavirus, but come on, like 30 people per year get it. Your hypochondria’s no good here.)
Hi! I'm super-cute but I'll poop in your cupboards. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Anyway, it quickly turned into full-on War on Mice in Casa Burnout, with the caveat that we endeavored to wage war in the most deathless way possible. Red agreed to try humane traps until New Year’s [my compassion-cup was sort of filled on account of the holidays – who knew there were more than just xmas]. I told the mice that they had about two weeks to vacate, be carefully and gently vacated, or start running for their rodent lives. Red procured several humane traps, which came with hilarious little admonitions to “Teach peace! Be nice to mice!” While I wholeheartedly agree with both of those sentiments, I really just wanted the traps to work. Red baited them with peanuts, secreted them around the basement, and waited.
One enterprising mouse [or many] managed to eat the peanut without tripping the door. Wily bastard[s].
Red re-baited with peanut butter [and a single peanut] and scoured the basement, plugging any holes big enough to admit a mouse (which is pretty much any hole, no matter how small). I scrubbed the kitchen and prayed that if the mice explored the counters, they’d have the decency to not leave little presents for me to find as I fumbled my way to the coffee.
This is what I wish they'd gotten up to in my kitchen. Adorable drawing by House-Mouse Designs®.
After a couple days of this, we came home late one evening and checked the traps. SCORE! We had caught one tiny, nervous-looking fellow. However, because the universe has a sense of humor, we had no choice but to head back outside, at midnight in the freakish cold, to release our captive in a place where he’d be happy and not find his way back to us.
Because I am cold-hearted, I made myself a pot of ramen noodles before our excursion. I was hungry, and the mouse had already had his snack.
Everything I’ve read on the topic of mouse relocation suggests taking the mouse at least two to five miles away. For us, five miles meant a restaurant park near the mall. Being a mouse in a restaurant Dumpster sounded like a pretty sweet setup to me, and I hoped that any dismay he experienced over his eviction from our house would be temporary. I tucked the trap into a small box and held it on my lap while Red drove. I thought of taking a photo, but that seemed cruel.
The liberation went off without a hitch. I had to tap the trap a few times to encourage him to leave, but once he got the idea, he was outta there. That was good news for us both, because I was tired of crouching in the snow next to a Dumpster.
Thus was Mouse #1 relocated.
We repeated this scenario three more times, trapping and releasing another four mice. You did that math right: We caught two in our second trap, and they were even cuter than their predecessor. I like to think that they comforted each other on the trip to the Dumpster, but the exchange I scripted in my head went something like this: “Dammit, Carl, what’s wrong with you?! You and your stomach, always getting us into trouble! Don’t worry about the trap, he says. We can get the peanut butter, he says. You sonofabitch, now we’re God knows where in this dark box on some broad’s lap, all because you wanted a snack. From now on, I’m working solo.” [The other mouse’s name was either Esmerelda Villalaucha or George.]
These weren’t ours, but close enough. Photo courtesy of a satisfied Amazon.com customer.
With five mice caught and released in suitable Dumpster locations, we declared Operation Humane Mouse Relocation a success. I’d estimate that the traps had about a 50% success rate; plenty were raided, but it could have been that our mice were especially savvy or small enough to avoid tripping the door. Either way, between the traps and our cleaning/hole-plugging efforts, we seem to be mouse-free at the moment.
So. Teach peace and be nice to mice, indeed.