Wee, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous beastie

A couple hours ago, I heard rustling from downstairs. No, not people poaching my cows; just a noise as of, perhaps, a representative of clan musculus foraging through items left on my counter. I dashed downstairs, making rather a clatter of my own, but from the whole kitchen there arose not a sound. So I came back up to read more submissions. And a while later, the same loud rustling. This time I crept stealthily down the steps and along the hall (singing under my breath a song from Pinafore, only it turns out I've been misquoting it all these years; I mis-sang "Silently on tiptoe stealing, we will softly steal away"), and turned the corner to see/hear that the rustling was coming from the trash bag.

See, a few days ago I discovered that the mouse had been roaming around under my sink, and had gnawed a small hole in the corner of the paper bag that I put trash in. So I put a trap under the sink and moved the trash bag out onto the kitchen floor, intending to take it out to the trash can soon. Only I hadn't quite got around to that yet.

And just as well, as it turned out. For as Robert Burns so aptly put it:

Wee sleekit cow'rin' tim'rous beastie,

There upon my garbage do thou feastie!

Or something like that. I grabbed the trash bag, put it inside the big Dell monitor box conveniently sitting nearby, and took the whole assemblage into my bathroom (which is small and has a door that closes firmly), and then took the trash bag out of the box and put it in the bathtub (which has a sliding glass door and no other means of egress). And then I placed one of the M007 live traps near the other end of the tub. And then I put on a jacket and gloves, to avoid bites, and leaned over the bag (standing outside the tub, leaning through the shower door) and started carefully removing trash from the bag.

I got around halfway down when a presumably terrified mouse fled through the little hole at the base of the bag. It scampered—no, that doesn't really convey the sheer speed and desperation of its motion. It ran and leapt around the tub, looking for something dark to hide behind or in. It skittered off the fiberglass sides of the tub. I slid the glass door closed and stood on the toilet and peered over the top of the door to see if it would run into the trap. Instead, it ran over the trap in the wrong direction, causing the trap to shut; then it found the hole in the bag again and ran back inside.

I opened the shower door, reset the trap, closed the shower door, opened the other end of the shower door, and started removing trash again. (Okay, actually there was a bit in the middle where I turned off the bathroom light in hopes that the mouse would head for the trap, but that didn't seem to be working, so I gave up on it.)

As I neared the bottom of the bag, I decided to turn the bag on its side. When I did so, the mouse zipped straight out of the bag and straight into the trap, which clicked shut. Its tail stuck out for a moment and then flicked inside.

It happened so fast I wasn't sure it had actually happened. I picked up the trap, carefully opened the door partway, and sure enough there were two little round black eyes peering out at me, from as far back in the tiny trap as the creature could get.

I taped the trap door closed (being sure to leave the air holes uncovered) and drove out to the Arastradero Open Space Preserve and let the mouse go, then came home.

It was only after I got home that I realized that I had forgotten to examine it to see whether it was a house mouse or a deer mouse. Deer mice are the ones that carry hantavirus; they're much more common in rural areas than suburbia, at least in California, but I believe hantavirus has been found in every county in California, so I had meant to check just to be sure. Oh, well; it probably wasn't a deer mouse. But I'll be careful cleaning up the droppings just in case.

Don't know if it's all over yet. Other people have reported that they had multiple mice when they thought they had just one; also, it's clear that a lot of the mouse's recent activities have involved gathering nesting material, and for all I know there are a bunch of baby mice snugly tucked up behind my stove. So I'm still leaving the traps out for now.

But at least one of them is gone. I have no idea how likely it is to survive in its new environment, but I did see it safely dart into what looked like reasonable cover moments after I released it, so perhaps it has a chance.

And now I'm really late to work, so off I go.

3 Responses to “Wee, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous beastie”

  1. SarahP

    I had fun reading your mouse narrative!

  2. Haddayr

    You are too kind. I would have, I’m afraid, murdered it.

  3. Mike

    I second Haddayr’s comment. You are a very kind person. I hope the mouse made it!

    [I removed the spam URL attached to this comment, but decided to allow the comment itself because the commenter appears to be a human who actually read the entry and the comments. —Jed]


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