Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nuka vs. The Land Walrus Introduce Pip the Cupboard Mouse

     Last winter a funny thing happened.  In the cupboard above our stove, the popcorn kept mysteriously vanishing.  At first I figured this was probably due to a porthole from another dimension, but then other things started happening in the cupboard.  Little gnaw marks appeared on containers and various foodstuffs, and then small, little black kernels littered the cupboard floor.  What could be happening in this cupboard?
     Jeremy quickly deduced that it was a mouse and presented with the evidence, I was forced to agree, so we did what most people do when confronted with a mouse, or, at least, what I assume they do, we went to the store for traps.

     That's where the trouble started.

     Your local hardware store has an aisle that will present many options for dealing with a mouse.  We took them all in and Jeremy started grabbing.  For better or worse, I am not a grabber, I am a reader, so I started reading and I didn't enjoy it at all.  Turns out the best way to deal with your mouse is to crack it with a metal bar or poison it.  This might seem like a perfectly reasonable way to deal with vermin, unfortunately, I cry when I see road kill, so I could only stare at Jeremy aghast.

Jeremy: "It's a mouse.  It's vermin.  We can't let it live in there and eat our food."

Me:  "I am not snap trapping it.  What if it doesn't die right away and it's half alive in the trap?  I will freak."

Jeremy:  "No problem, poison."

Me: "Jeremy, it is not safe to have poison in a house with dogs, and why should we poison the mouse?  He is only trying to live his mouse life, he just likes Orville Redenbacher."

Jeremy, glaring at me: "Well we have to get rid of it somehow."

     I surveyed the aisle of mouse torments and picked out two live traps designed specifically for overly sensitive babies like myself.  You put bait in there, and mice are dumb, apparently, so they walk in and then a lever goes up and the mouse can't get back out.  Captured mouse, alive at least.  Jeremy shrugged his whatevers at me and we bought the live traps.  I dutifully baited them at home and put them in the suspect cupboard, determined to show Jeremy that we could get rid of the mouse without killing it some terrible way.

     It didn't take long.

     The traps say to check them daily, so the next morning, first thing, I did just that.  Lo and behold, there, through the murky grey plastic, I spied the popcorn eater, a little brown mouse.  Gotcha!  I had captured the culprit on the first try, there was only one problem, something I failed to take into consideration upon my purchase of the live traps; what should I do with it now that I captured it?
     The trap literature helpfully recommended drowning the mouse, throwing it in the garbage, or releasing it somewhere not in your house.  Good ideas, right?  Problem is that in February, in Canada, my mouse would be a mouse-cicle in five seconds if I released it outside.  Admittedly, I had not considered this.
     I felt bad for the mouse, who was clearly not enjoying its time in the trap so I poked some holes in the lid of a coffee can and dumped him in there, like a five year old with a grass hopper.
     We named the mouse Cartman and purchased a CritterTrail habitat for it.  The mouse hated us, but at least it was alive and we could release it in the spring.  This should be the end of the story, but it isn't.  Turned out, the popcorn still wasn't safe.  Within the next few days, we caught another mouse, we named it Chili Cheese and dumped him in with Cartman, they seemed to be acquainted.  After this, thankfully, the cupboard cleared up.  I took everything out, bleached it, and nothing else violated the Orville Redenbacher.  Chili Cheese and Cartman hated us, but adjusted to life in their new habitat.  I figured that it didn't really matter anyway, because as soon as the weather warmed up they would be cheerfully released back into the wild, and that's exactly what happened, mostly.

     Chili Cheese and Cartman had four beautiful mouse babies.

     I was pretty stressed out when the mouse babies came.  I had not planned on one mouse, two mice, and then mice babies.  But, I'd come that far, so I stuck to my guns.  We would keep the mouse family until the snow was gone, then off they would go.
     Turns out our mice were White-footed mice.  I read about them, cleaned their cage once a week, fed them, changed their water and so on.  They were not much trouble as far as pets go.  The babies started getting big and I started to get worried, fortunately, the weather was beginning to break and I knew I could let them go soon.  Once the grass started to grow, I detached the portion of their cage that had their nest in it and put it out back under a large flower pot with the open end of the tunnel sticking out.  Finally, the mice were free to go when they wanted.
     The first to go was the dad mouse, Chili Cheese.  I was surprised he was the only one to make the break to freedom on the first night, but it was still early spring, so I brought them back inside for the day.  I would repeat this mouse ritual every morning and night for the next two weeks.
     Cartman went next, and then slowly, one by one, the mouse babies (now full grown) trickled off to find their own mouse lives in the wild.  It was a special time, watching my cupboard vermin be released into the wild, but of course, there was one, (isn't there always one?) that just wouldn't go.  For about a week he was the only one left and every night I would take him out back and put him under the flower pot and every morning I would go and find him still there, still nestled in the nest made out of old sock pieces and paper towels.  Eventually I tried dumping him out, (go, be free!)  but that little buggar dug his tiny hands into the side of the tunnel and held on for dear life.

Me:  "Go, little mouse!  I'm freeing you, go into the wild with your mouse family!"

Mouse: "Go to hell, lady!  I am not giving up free food and a cat-free environment!"

Me: "But you're a wild animal, it isn't right to cage you."

Mouse: "I was born in this cage, moron, and I will die here."

     I sighed and brought the mouse back in, and reattached him to the rest of his cage.  I told him I would give him one more chance to leave and then he could forget about it, because I was tiring of the charade.  That night I put him back under the flower pot and left some food scattered around.  Maybe once he got out in the world he would realize freedom was where it's at.

     No such luck.

     The next morning, I brought the stubborn mouse in for the last time and put his cage back together.  "That's it, you know." I said to him. "I am not putting you outside again, you are stuck here now."  Not surprisingly, the mouse did not reply, though he did run on the wheel with extra gusto that night.

Pip enjoys sunflower seeds and running on his wheel.
     Welcome to the blog, Pip the cupboard mouse, we're happy to have you!


  1. Pip is adorable. Maybe he liked you better than Cartman, his birth mom.

  2. Cartman did split pretty fast once the opportunity presented itself. He's really grown on me, our little Pip.