The Mouse

mouse on my counter
Mouse on my counter

5/13/2018 ~ Best Mother’s Day EVER. The Mouse is back. The Mouse, and I do mean singular. For weeks when I set the Catch & Release trap I caught what appeared to be the same mouse. No more little/young mice were caught.

One day I said to the captured mouse, “John Henry,” which was what I had named the mouse I thought could be a pet. The mouse perked up its ears, as if it recognized the name. “Stockholm Syndrome,” I thought to myself.

I don’t know how the captured mouse kept getting back in, but as a possible clue to how tiny a hole is needed, I recently opened the drawer where I kept my yeast for Korean Rice Wine making and… there was a mouse in the cellophane package with the cheesecloth I use to strain Kombucha.

I had noticed that when I threw away the cheesecloth I’d used to strain Kombucha that almost invariably a mouse would take it and put it on one of its tables … where the cheesecloth slowly disappeared, presumably into the mouse or mice.

So, when the mouse found unused cheesecloth in the drawer it probably thought it was like food without the sauce, so to speak.

I thought I could just grab it, in the cellophane package, and … I  hadn’t really thought much beyond grabbing it. When I grabbed it, however, it became clear that the mouse had a very strong desire not to be in my hand… and it escaped.

I was pretty sure the mouse had come down from the ceiling, via a stud, and entered the drawer from the counter framework which is relatively open. To block access in the future, I stuffed steel wool into the openings I could reach, and felt that my drawer was now Secure. I put a peanut in the drawer, to test out whether a mouse was still getting into the drawer.

Sure enough, the peanut was shelled and eaten, and my yeast balls from China were moved around. The Champagne yeast had been its preference, but that being gone, it settled for the Chinese yeast balls.

I wondered if perhaps the mouse was really getting in from floor level. I thought access to the under cabinet space was blocked, but… So I checked and found a tiny, TINY hole. It was the size one might imagine a cricket using for access. It seemed was too small a hole to allow a mouse to get under my cabinets, still… I used some pieces of broken pottery to fill the hole and placed an empty bottle from Heiniken beer over the “point of entry.” I decided that maybe I should put some screws into the bottle, to weigh it down, and I did. After that, the peanut I put in the drawer has not been touched.

Having decided a few days ago that the mouse I was catching each night was the same mouse, I decided to stop trapping it and instead put out peanuts for it every other night.

Then, last night there was huge noise in my gardening accessory closet and I thought I’d better catch the mouse and take it outside. So, I set the trap and caught a mouse.

This morning I saw that it was the same mouse. So I said, “John Henry,” to it in a soft voice, several times. Then I said, “Sweetie mouse,” several times.

In response it washed its face.

I said what a beautiful mouse it is and how I enjoy seeing it. I said,”John Henry,” a few more times, and “Sweetie Mouse,” in the kind of voice one uses with kittens and other small pets.

Then, while I was sitting on my kitchen chair, contemplating the mouse in the trap, the mouse began making tiny sounds. At first I wasn’t sure the sounds were actually coming from the mouse. When I watched closely, though, I could see its whiskers move as it made the little noises. I listened until it stopped making the little sounds. Then I said, “Sweetie Mouse.” And, it began making little sounds again. So each time it stopped making the little sounds I would very softly say, “Oh,” as if I understood. Then it would make more little sounds, and again I’d reply. That went on for several minutes. Maybe as much as 10 or 15 minutes.

I wondered if I should take the mouse outside, where mice tend to live shorter lives than if they are inside, or if I should release it here in the house…

I decided to toss a coin. I have great faith in the Universe communicating via coins. I got my I Ching tossing penny and shook it in my hands, clearing my mind so that if thoughts have a physical effect, I wouldn’t play a part in making the coin land one way, or the other. When I released the penny, it landed Tails, which I interpret as Yes. Meaning in this case that the mouse should stay in the house.

I opened the trap and The Mouse didn’t run out. Though, in fact the open door was behind it. What The Mouse did was begin making little sounds again, so we had another chat of several minutes length.

Finally the mouse walked out of the trap, giving a bit of time to inspecting the peanuts I’d put just outside the trap’s door. While The Mouse was exiting the trap I said, “Sweetie Mouse” a few times to encourage it to understand I meant it to be free in the house.

Next, I checked the “Mouse House” which was on a shelf behind my large TubTrug with some unknown but huge plant growing in it. The Mouse House showed signs of a mouse having moved the bedding into specific areas, like the little sand enclosure. And, there were several peanut shells. The wheel was down. I had thought I’d heard a mouse running on the wheel at one point, some time ago. So, I put the wheel back in place, put water in the water container, and put the Mouse House on the counter. I covered 3/4 of it with a hand towel so that it would be dark inside, and I put several peanuts outside one of its two access points.

Then, I vacuumed the floor where I’d spilled potting soil. To my surprise the mouse came around the corner from the living room, apparently unfazed by the noise of the vacuum since I walked within a foot of the vacuum.

I went outside, dug up some lettuce plants and put them into a low, stoneware planter I have, so the mouse could have fresh lettuce.

LOL. I’m so happy. I hope The Mouse is happy, too.

5/5/2018 ~ Last night I looked up from my computer to see a mouse sitting on the backrest of my rolling walker, looking at me. It had one leg up, as if pondering whether to stay and watch me, or move on to something more interesting.

Later when I was in the kitchen I saw the mouse, I think it was the same one, jumping out of the bag of peanuts I bought to put outside for the mice. The mouse had a peanut in its mouth and ran along the bottom of the back-splash to the other side of the counter. This is the counter I had thought was totally safe from mice.

I was amazed at the running and jumping the mouse did without letting go of its peanut. When it jumped into the sink where I dry dishes, and was under the wire holder for dishes while they dry, I lifted the wire basket and saw that it had two peanuts in the drain basket.

From that point the mouse no longer had the peanut in its mouth. I was so close to the mouse I thought I could pet it. I would guess it didn’t have an easy way off the counter, or it would have left me in the dust, so to speak.

I took several pictures of it, all of which show that the camera adds weight to mice just as it often does to us…

This picture makes my mouse look large.

10/25/2016 ~ If my Amazon shopping cart were sentient it might have noticed that I put two different Catch and Release mouse traps into it recently, followed a couple of weeks later by a Mouse House. Had my shopping cart noticed, it might have wondered if the mouse had gone from hunted to… would be pet.

I tried to get a photo of the mouse outside on my deck, but it was too quick. Whereas, in my house it sits for quite long periods, presumably waiting for me to forget about it so that it can do whatever, unseen.

In the picture, the mouse is heading back outside.

The mouse looks bigger than I expected, so I checked the photo date: 9/12/2016. I’m wondering if that was the mouse that may have been caught by a cat on my deck, since there was a bit of blood spatter.

Not long after the apparent demise of the mouse that had been picking up peanuts I threw out for the squirrel, I was walking in my garden when I saw a small mouse that hid under a dandelion leaf when it saw me approach. At least it appeared to think it was hidden. It was very young looking, so I figured it was still learning how hiding works.

Now, I feel as if the mouse I tried to catch, with no success, is the young mouse.

The mouse is very quiet, in contrast to a mouse that came in periodically a few years ago and was constantly knocking things off shelves. Maybe the mouse is quiet because it’s small and doesn’t upset things as easily as a larger mouse might. Or, maybe it tip toes. lol.

The other thing I appreciated in the mouse was that it wasn’t leaving turds all over my counter. It actually looked as if the mouse were contemplating a saucer of perlite for use as kitty litter. And, when I washed the counter down with Clorox, there were no turds the following day. I was impressed.

“Mouse Hotel” Catch and Release Trap

Still, in the interest of not having to bleach my counter every day, I bought a “humane” trap.

The first Catch and Release trap I bought, the Mouse Hotel, had very good reviews: lots of caught mice. Some reviewers referenced how the trap didn’t have enough ventilation, so in the morning the caught mouse was looking very distressed for want of air.

With those reviews in mind, I drilled holes in four of the little windows that run along the sides, and felt relatively secure that that mouse would breathe happily till I took it outside. My only worry was that I wanted to keep my deck door open, which might seem like an invitation to the mouse to come back in… only we never got that far.

I put peanuts inside but the mouse either didn’t notice them, or willfully ignored them. I put in peanut butter on a seed laden bit of cracker… again, untouched come morning. I tried smearing peanut butter next to the windows, in case the mouse hadn’t been able to smell the peanut butter when it was at the back of the trap. No success.

Havahart Catch and Release trap

I decided that the long, narrow, dead end trap may have looked like a trap to the mouse, so I bought a Two Door Catch and Release Trap from Havahart. With both doors open it looks pretty non-threatening, if not inviting re the proffered food.

It was really hard to set the trap because I kept tripping it, but finally I got a peanut level on the tray that acts as a tripping mechanism. I smiled, knowing I would have the mouse in the trap next morning, ready for transport outside.

Next morning, no mouse in the trap. The peanut was now wedged under the tray, which was quite a feat for the mouse to have achieved. There was a chance I hadn’t set the trap properly and that no matter what the mouse did, the trap would not trip.

I tried again. This time I was sure, beyond a reason of a doubt, that I had the trap properly set. I was so eager to see how my captive mouse was doing next morning, but… what I found was that the peanut was gone and the trap had not been tripped. I had to admire how steady the mouse must be, to lift the peanut without upsetting the hair trigger tripping mechanism.

When I was tweeting about my mouse situation, a fellow, who was literally a former clown, tweeted back at me that alternatively I could name the mouse.

I began to realize that I had a choice: I could either freak out about the mouse, or accept that it had figured out that it’s warmer inside than out as the nights are getting colder.

Why not just let it live inside?

Problems that occurred to me were the mouse chewing things up, though I doubted it could do as much damage as a puppy; mouse turds building up somewhere… and, on a more mouse-centric level, would the mouse gain unhealthy weight if it didn’t have to run around looking for food? By now, you see, I was putting peanuts out for it each night, no longer any trap involved.

If I bought a mouse house, I wondered, would the mouse choose to live in it? thus making it easy for me to dispose of any build up of mouse turds, and, if the house came with a hamster wheel, the mouse could keep fit.

Habitrail Cristal Hamster Habitat

Tomorrow the Hamster Habitat, which many reviewers used for pet white mice, is arriving. I need to look out some old fleece top that I can cut into pieces to entice the mouse into sleeping in the little covered area at the top of the ramp. And, I’m thinking I may have to put something more opaque than the orange plastic on top of the area, so the mouse isn’t bothered by me. Yes, I now worry that I will bother the mouse.

A good friend on Twitter treated me to a clip from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which features mice.

I suppose, when there was only audio, this was more like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when it debuted on British radio…

10/26/2016 ~ When I rolled out my kitchen compost container I found that the mouse had been taking Pizza Hut Parmesan packets behind the container to open and enjoy in the secure dark, till I ran out of Pizza Hut Parmesan.

I also found that the mouse appears to have a fairly good understanding of architecture, in relation to its needs. You see, I found that it had made a lovely hole, almost as perfect as those depicted in cartoons, in the insulation sheet I have up behind my candle cooker. I imagine the mouse was thinking it would get inside the wall, but… no.

So, I’ve brought in some insulation bits and pieces to make a box to go on the outside of the mouse house I’ve ordered. I’m thinking the mouse may feel quite accomplished if it enlarges the entrance hole so it can go in, and then finds a warm bed area, water, peanuts.

I’m not exactly sure how I will change/clean the mouse house. Possibly if the mouse likes it, and I got another one, I could change them out at night when the mouse was… elsewhere.

In any case, I’m enjoying spending time wondering how this will go.

mouse-house-dscn2281-337
Mouse House ~ I was sure Mouse would move right in, all Mod Cons…

10/26/2016… Later ~ The Mouse House has arrived. It came assembled, which is probably good. I had to put the wheel, water bottle and ladder in place, but that was it. I love that it matches my Lundberg Organic Brown Rice bags.

I would love to see the mouse discovering this prospective home, though I’m pretty sure the mouse won’t stay in it if it’s so open.

The easiest solution is to invert the box it came in, to block out light and keep me from viewing in. One way glass would be cool.

Okay, so my original plan was to put alder chips, left over from mulching my kumquats and avocados, in the bottom tray of the home. But, they were clunky and didn’t seem inviting at all. I was about to try an old tee shirt with paint spatters when I remembered some packing that had come with a Christmas gift some years ago: thin strips of accordion paper. It was so cute I had to save it… but, where?

I found the cute and somewhat comfy paper, cut up an old wool sock for the loft/bed, hung the water container, and filled the dish with the Perlite-like roofing stuff that the mouse had appeared to treat as kitty litter. If the mouse is the reincarnation of my favorite kitty, John Henry, and it knows it, the mouse will understand why I want it to be happy. If not, perhaps it will be a bemused, but happy mouse.

Mouse House ~ with privacy consideration

If I had put the things in place before I worked on ingress/egress it would have been great. Instead, I started out by making holes in the shipping box the house came in, which was really too big, and then the smaller Habitat box. The thing is, I made the holes without the house sitting on its tray, so when I put the house on the tray, the holes were not in the right place. By cutting a hole the size of the tray in an inch thick piece of insulation I was able to put the house into the hole with the result that the ingress/egress holes pretty much line up.

The Habitat is made so that you can add tubes for the “critter” to run around. I used the rings for the tubes to hold the box to the house holes. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Now, will the mouse like it?

I will have no way of knowing if the mouse chooses to sleep in the Mouse House, because I can’t see in. I suppose I need to think about getting a night vision video camera… motion activated. Seriously.

I should put a donate button on this page. LOL.

10/27/2016 ~ A very quiet mouse night, last night. In fact, I worried that a rather loud thud from some fallen item signaled that the mouse was crushed and would therefore never get to see the Mouse House. I wished, of course, that the mouse had found the house and had snuggled into the wool sock bits in the sleeping loft and gone soundly to sleep.

This morning I checked several places I feared might reveal a crushed mouse under something it had unwittingly dislodged. Happily no crushed mouse, or otherwise, was found.

I then noticed that most of the Parmesan, that was just below the tomatoes in the photo, was gone. Since the mouse has consistently chosen peanuts when given a choice of peanuts or a pile of Parmesan, I guessed that the mouse had not found the Mouse House when it ate the Parmesan. As an aside, the Parmesan was rancid when it arrived in an order from Amazon. It’s possible the mouse doesn’t like rancid Parmesan as much as it likes the fresh contents of Pizza Hut Parmesan packets.

I’m still looking at motion activated, night vision video cameras. 🙂

Captured

11/22/2016 ~ A day or so after the above entry I used peanut butter to secure a peanut to the tray in the Havahart Catch and Release Trap. It worked.

It was relatively easy to “release” the mouse into the Habitrail Cristal, via the door at the top. But the poor little mouse was terrified at being dumped from the metal prison, which apparently seemed saver than whatever was next. The little mouse made a tiny squeak, which I would guess was a scream in Mouse.

It ran around its new Mouse House, looking for a way to escape to freedom. It ran along the ceiling, holding on to the wires of the cage, with ease. It also displayed great jumping prowess.

That day, and for a few days thereafter, it shivered quite a lot, which I think was likely the effect of shock.

So cute. If only Mouse had wanted to be my pet…

A ready supply of peanuts seemed one way to reduce the effects of the shock. Also, it seemed like The Mouse liked having water to hand, once it found the water bottle.

It’s a really cute mouse. I need to do a video so you can see how amazing its jumps are. I’m pretty sure it must be a kangaroo mouse.

Prior to catching the mouse I may have exaggerated to myself how brilliant it was. But, on the other hand it seems to learn really quickly. It seems to like to play Peek a boo. When it’s out of its sleeping loft, I sound all happy to see it. Then when it goes into the loft where it’s pretty much hidden, I sound all sad when I say, “Where’s the mouse?” Then, when it comes out I sound all happy, “There’s the mouse.”

I can’t be absolutely sure, but it seemed as if it was testing me out to see if it always had the same effect when it disappeared into the sleeping loft.

Habitrail Cristal Review

I captured a mouse using a Havahart catch and release trap. I was under the impression it was The Mouse. And The Mouse seemed very clever. (I’ve since realized that there were at least three mice. One remains at large.)

In any case, expecting the seemingly clever mouse to be equally cute, I had a Habitrail Cristal in hand. Indeed the mouse is super cute.

It didn’t like the wheel, at all. It immediately took to the loft sleeping area, without using the ladder. I’m pretty sure, having watched it, that it’s a kangaroo mouse. It can leap from the floor of the Mouse House (Habitrail Cristal) to the ceiling, where it catches hold and scoots around as if it has a Spiderman complex.

I had to get another Habitrail so I could clean the first one. I chose the Twist for the second Mouse House.

Cleaning the Cristal was a lot easier than I expected. I hadn’t really thought people were being entirely accurate when they said it was Easy. But, it is. I don’t know what that plastic is, but spraying Glass Plus (Windex look alike) on even the worst bits of mess, totally dislodged the mess which I then “picked up” with a paper towel.

The only problem I’ve had is the little round thingies on either end: When I was transferring the mouse it did some rather fast moves, it is VERY FAST, and I was afraid it was going to escape. I’m pretty sure it now has a clear idea of the danger involved in taking a peanut out of a Havahart… In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s warned the 3rd mouse which has not taken a peanut that’s even close to the Havahart. Anyway, in reaction to my Mouse’s quick moves I somehow jammed the plastic bit that fits into the aperture, that little round hole, unevenly. And, it’s totally stuck. It is not flush anymore, nor can I get it to be flush. I tried heating the outside bit of plastic by soaking a paper towel in hot water… that did expand the plastic, making it possible for me to wiggle the bit… but I could not get it flush, nor did WD40 help. I mean, it helped, but not enough to get the bit flush, and cleaning the WD40 off was another chore all on its own. So, when dealing with the Cristal, stay calm and avoid hard to reverse jams.

My jumping mouse has no need of the ladder.

I tried Timothy, 2nd cut, for bedding on the floor, along with bits of a wool sock in the sleeping loft. The timothy was pretty sticky, as in more sticks than leaves, so for the Twist I used peanut shells for the floor, with just a bit of timothy on top of the shells, cut into smaller bits.

The mouse sometimes comes when I call it. And, it appears to like to play peek a boo. When it goes into its house, the sleeping loft in the Cristal, I say, “Where’s the mouse?” over and over again… Then when it comes Out I say, sounding very happy, “There’s the mouse.” It seems the mouse likes hearing a happy voice at it’s appearance.

From there I went on to naming the little creature John Henry, though I think it may be a female. My favorite kitty was John Henry and I loved the horse, which I was lucky to see years ago at Santa Anita.

So now, when I call, “John Henry” the mouse comes out… sometimes.

12/5/2016 ~ The Third Mouse refused to get caught in the Catch and Release Trap. It does however eat all the bait.

My theory is that the captured mouse has warned the Third Mouse about the trap. So, today I let the captured mouse out, outside.

In celebration my Irish Twitter Friend gave me this quite wonderful Mouse song:

Mouse Being Released

12/20/2016 ~ I think the new captive little mouse has a more positive view of me since I rescued it from the green trap quite quickly. The first mouse was in the metal trap for many hours and I think it got MPTSD… Mouse Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In any case, the new little mouse seems younger and more inquisitive.

The main problem with having a mouse captive as a pet is the… smell. However, it turns out that it’s the pee that smells and if given options, a mouse will pee in pretty much the same place, thus making it rather easy to eliminate the odor.

With that in mind I read a lot of Habitrail reviews and discovered that many people had found their little pets happily using the pod type attachments as their loo.

I therefore ordered the pod type attachments, and enough extra tube so that I could connect the Cristal to the Blue and Yellow Twist. The two homes are on different levels, so it was a tad more complicated than if they had been at an equal height.

Upscaled to persuade Mouse to want to be my pet

Above is the mouse’s current domain. As an aside, I have a suspicion that, given the number of peanuts my mouse goes through, it is shelling them and giving them to its uncaptured compatriot(s)… 🙁

Each of the two little green covered pods is for food. The top one is for peanuts in the shell. I didn’t see how the little mouse could move a peanut in its shell up a tube, so I put the peanuts in the pod near the large, blue domed sleeping pod. Little creatures appear to like their food stashed near their beds. Then, I put freeze dried peas and carrots in the green covered pod below the peanut pod.

When the mouse wants to run, it can travel over to the Twist and use its wheel.

Sometimes when I’m sitting next to the cabinet, near the Twist, the mouse comes over as if to visit. I love that.

4/18/2018 ~ It turns out that I was extremely ignorant re mouse family size. After a friend of mine said that if I heard noises in the ceiling and mice were living up there, there could be 200 of them. I laughed. I was sure he was kidding. But, Googling showed that you could easily have 60 mice as a result of one mating couple.

I decided I’d better set the Catch & Release trap and take them outside. On the first night I caught 14 and took each outside. Same the second night. Then it was five a night for several nights. I have now taken mice outside at least 200 times.

Several people on Twitter have suggested that there rare a dozen or so persistent mice who keep coming back in. I have no idea if this is true. I can’t find anyplace that looks like an entry point for them… And most of them seem to be different than any mice I’ve seen before… smaller, more timid, more white on their legs, etc.

But, a few have seemed familiar.

The one I took outside today was a large adult. It was slow to leave the trap, even after it saw the peanuts I put out for it.

One small mouse, some weeks ago, was so cute. It did not want to leave the trap. It let me pet it, and when it finally did leave the trap it turned around and looked at me for quite a long time.

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