There we were, lying in bed one of the first nights in our current house. I was awake, trying to learn the night sounds of the house, DH was fast asleep next to me and then it began. First, it was the “scrambling” sound on metal. Then, it was the sound of running on metal through a tunnel… and it was getting closer. It culminated with more nails on metal, a moment of silence and a “thunk”. I lay there, the noise of this tremendous beast in my heating duct right under my bed, causing images of rats or skunks to run through my head. Great! That’s ALL I needed.
I listened to this racket, the ball of anxiety in my stomach getting larger, and I elbowed DH awake, whispering, “Listen to that… Tell me that is NOT a rat!” He muttered blearily, “It’s not a rat…” I looked in his direction in the dark, “Are you sure?” There was a quiet snort, a yawn and then, “No… but chances are it’s not a rat… If you’re worried about it, get a flashlight and look.”
As independent as I am for most things, the thought of a rat running around through my heating ducts, let alone my house caused this dual set of emotions: anger and fear. Anger, because how DARE that filthy vermin decide to take up residence in MY house. Fear, because… if there was one… there HAD to be more. I swallowed the growing lump in my throat and headed to the utility area, grabbing a prize left behind in our previous home – a giant flashlight used to “shine” deer. If I couldn’t catch this four-legged little bandit, I’d at least blind him.
Tip-toeing back to the bedroom, for I could still hear the little monster in the ductwork, I went to the first register at the foot of the bed and shined the light down the hole. Nothing. Well, not completely nothing… droppings. I let go of the breath that I didn’t realize I was holding… they were mouse droppings. Thank GOODNESS! Now that I’d found proof that it was “just a mouse”, because I could deal with mice, I was more at ease and proceeded over to the next register. Shining the light down the register, I recalled that I hadn’t heard anything in a few minutes, and peered down. Nothing. Well, what the hell? Then I heard the sound – a little squeak – from behind me.
Flinging myself back over to the first register, I hit the trigger on the flashlight, frantically searching for my enemy. I didn’t see it at first, but then a glint in one of its beady, black eyes gave away it’s position. The mouse had managed to jump up and get hold of the bottom of the register cover, but couldn’t manuever its way through without losing its grip and falling. AH HA!! TRAPPED! “I see you!” I whispered excitedly. I brought the light close to the register, causing the mouse to jump off and I rushed back to the utility room, grabbing a mouse trap, duct tape and a scissors. I stopped off in the living room, snagging a length of yarn from the basket and returned to the scene of the crime.
A quick scan of the register covers showed me that the mouse was not clinging, and I taped my yarn to the bottom of the trap (which I had baited with peanut butter). Carefully I set the trap, lowering it down into the ductwork and leaving the “tail” of the yarn wedged between the register cover and the floor. I waited there for a few minutes, listening for the sound of the mouse running through the ductwork, eager to get the fragrant peanut butter I set out. No such luck. Resigned that I’d need to employ patience, which I often am lacking, I went back to bed.
Morning dawned the next day and my trap was still empty. DRAT! Shaking my fist at the injustice, I got ready for work and headed out for the day. The return home found me rushing back to the bedroom and on my knees before the register. I held the tail of yarn as I pulled off the register cover and started to pull up the trap…and it was heavier than before. HUZZAH! I’d caught the mouse!
The glee that overcame me that day has repeated itself time and time again. You see, I live in a heavily wooded area, and the property we own is wooded as well. Mice are a way of life in this house, as the previous owners didn’t really think that doing things the “right way” was how things needed to be done. What we bought was a fixer upper and while we’ve fixed up a lot, the mice still find their way into the house. We’ve had traps in the ductwork, traps in the ceiling, traps behind the old shower, traps next to the stove, on the counter top, in the cabinets and next to the dryer.
The two places we seem to catch mice repeatedly are next to the stove and the dryer. We’ve now gone to a plastic “no touch” trap that has “teeth” on it. It works great.
We do have cats, but they are really no help, having figured out that if they just WAIT for the mice to get caught in the trap, and we fail to check them first thing in the morning, that “Mouse Crunchies” are available. I’ve never seen the small cat (6 pounds) grab a trap with mouse… only the fat cat (13+ pounds)… Oh, Fat Cat manages to catch a mouse now and then on his own… but when they’re alive, they are a play toy. They squeak and run, and then he can chase them again until they run up into the treadmill and are lost.
There it is… one of many stories about my life with mice. Oh, I have them going back 30 years and can’t possibly cover every story all in one day. Till the next story, I’ll be waiting for my traps to work and beating the Fat Cat back to the one by the dryer.