A Mouse in the House No More

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Simply shameless.

That’s what it was. In the middle of my (remote) newscast, he jumped across the keyboard. I kept reading the news – the mouse couldn’t pet me. But, no, sir, this mouse will not mock me by running in broad daylight and before my eyes. Mice hide. They are conservative, sneaky, cunning.

I should have been prepared. We only moved into our house when COVID started running at full capacity – the first time – before Delta, before Omicron. One of the reasons we chose this house was its proximity to the school and the fact that it was in an area with a reliable internet connection. And no, I’m not kidding about internet access. And thank God also because when I shut down my house, I shut down everything else too. Remember those days?

The realtor described our house 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 rent.” As a former renter, I resented the anti-tenant sentiment, but realized that not everyone cares about their rental property. Between that and the fact that it’s been empty for at least a year, he warned me we’d have to hire a pest control after inspecting for bugs, carpenters, and possibly snakes. “They will do it before closing, but you will want to do it again shortly afterwards,” he said. I should have assumed that mice were in this category as well, but for some reason I didn’t.

Fast forward several months later when the cat howled at my office door. Yes, howl. He does this only for very specific reasons. Among those reasons is the presence of the mouse.

We haven’t seen Jumpy (yes, now he has a name) for a long time. That, until it ran across my keyboard during the newscast. I hated to do it, but, reluctantly, I put traps everywhere. I tasted them peanut butter, jerky, apple. I’m embarrassed to do this. I am a vegetarian after all. But I have other animals, and I was worried about diseases and animals eating my life, pictures, and memories. I was worried about the plague. Two weeks passed and there were no mice. The bait was gone, traps were set, but there were no mice.

No mice were harmed, or even caught, by this rat trap. Image source: Kristen Bellino
…what a new secret this is. Image source: Kristen Bellino

Well-meaning friends told me, “You’ve got to get them. Where’s one there are fifty.” Again, we have a cat so I don’t think there are fifty. I also liked the phrase “Oh, it’s so filthy, you have to make sure everything is clean.” Yes, everything is clean. Then, my favorite, “Oh, that’s because you have so many animals.” We have two dogs and a cat. We have a friendly fish farm and quail. Quail outside – so are worms.

The quail baby Image credit: Kristen Bellino

The traps were empty but I hadn’t seen the mouse for weeks. Then one morning – again on the news, he’d dance across my desk. Yes waltz. There was no fear in his eyes. He came to listen to see if I was having breakfast. I kicked Jumpy away. He left for a few minutes and then came back. He sticks his head out from behind my printer and looks at me.

His eyes were giant. His little body was very sensitive. His fur was very shiny. I smiled gratefully that such a good-looking and proud mouse had taken up residence in my house. I apologized to the universe for trying to get him to do one of those terrible things. But I still don’t want him in my house. We have a nice garden where a mouse can live so I don’t have to worry about him chewing on my adorable little office supplies.

The Pen That Was Eaten by Jumpy the Mouse Photo Credit: Kristen Bellino

He knows my secret. The traps were not set properly and I could not harm him. He took advantage of the fact that I love animals.

Image source: Kristen Bellino

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

Mousetrap trash can: Christine Bellino

It’s a litter basket with a lid slightly modified to be made to bend inward, a bridge or ladder (in this case a piece of screening), and tops with peanut butter and sunflower seeds. At first I put sunflower seeds on duct tape, but peanut butter made that unnecessary.

I received great support from those I sought guidance from. “It will never work” was the directive heard most often.

Two days later I was sitting at my desk writing and I realized I hadn’t seen Thabe in a while. Could one of my traps be working? And that, oh swallow, killed him? I quickly searched the traps and collected them. How did I think to trap him like that? Actually I miss him. I missed his rude but cute little face. At 3:30 in the morning it was my little buddy. Yes, I was losing it.

Felt like in the room. Could he be watching me? Wait a minute… could he have already fallen inside the trash can? I didn’t hear anything but I felt it could be there. I opened my eyelids and looked at me with two beautiful eyes. “welcome!” I was so glad he was alive.

My apologies for the image quality. Jumpy wasn’t really helpful – but the video below – although short – is of the best quality.

Inside the trash can trap. Photo: Christine Bellino
Obviously well fed… Jumpy the Mouse Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino
Jumpy photo credit: Kristen Bellino

I texted my mousetrap skeptic advisers. A batch of sunflower seeds is placed at the bottom of the “trap” and released away from home under the paradise of little creatures of honeysuckle and sacred shrubs.

I gave him at least four days before he found his way inside.

(My daughter’s hand and the sniffing sound of Sawyer one of our dogs.)

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