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We noticed the telltale black droppings under the lazy susan cabinet. Then when I was down in my old basement office where I still keep the printer, I spotted a mouse skittering along the heating pipe. Julia and Owen both reported sightings in their rooms.
Never before had the second-floor bedrooms been breached. This was an outrage and an emergency call to arms.
I was just reading about how three weapons systems have made all the difference for Ukraine in its war with Russia. One is a shoulder-fired missile that locks onto its target. Another is a nimble armored truck that fires a volley of six guided missiles with a range of 50 miles and an accuracy of ten meters. And the third is an airborne drone outfitted with various armaments and which can be easily manufactured, deployed, and effective without loss of life (on our side).
I bring this up not to make light of a tragic and inhumane war, but if only I had such effective weaponry in my war against mice.
Instead, I have mousetraps. And the reality is, no one has built a better mousetrap yet. If someone had, that mousetrap would attract the mice and kill them quickly, every single time. But reality doesn’t work that way. Sometimes the mouse nabs the bait and gets away without triggering the trap.
Currently, there are two major kinds of traps for homeowner use: the clamping jaws style and the classic bar snap.
But the jaws-style traps are easier to set and maneuver into tight positions without snapping your own fingers. But its trigger pad is less sensitive and doesn’t snap with the same force or vigor as the bar style, which has a hair trigger and kills its prey with that propulsive satisfying snap that can wake you in the middle of the night.
There are also mousetraps that electrocute, primarily used in commercial settings, and those awful glue traps that capture but don’t kill the mouse. Animal advocates speak against them, and in some places they are banned.
I set about seven traps, using a mix of the jaws-of-death and the bar snaps. I placed them under the sink and in the cabinet where we’d seen the sign. I hide them in bedroom closets, behind bookcases, next to radiator pipes. In the crawl space. My bait has always been peanut butter. It’s damn tasty for a mouse and lasts a number of days on its tempting perch.
The first night we got a mouse under the kitchen sink using the jaws trap. Now the mice knew they were being hunted and I got nothing for the next several nights because I sensed they were huddling in fear. And after that, they ventured out again but made off with some of the bait.
It’s all part of the battle. You must keep baiting and setting the traps and experimenting with locations. Every night set them, every morning check them. We’re up to five kills. Two jaws-style, three snaps. It’s an unpleasant and bloody business that someone must do and that someone is me.
I wouldn’t be in this position if our cat Storm hadn’t died two years ago. He was a fierce and determined hunter and we never had a mouse problem during his long reign on Woodridge Road. His surviving co-conspirator, Pumpkin, is a lover not a fighter, plus he’s old and has his health issues, so we’ve had two invasions of mice in the past two years.
I’d rather not have this little war on my hands. But when the perimeter is breached, it’s game on and I have to admit a measure of satisfaction with every mouse I trap. Not in the killing, but in doing my duty, beating back the enemy, protecting the homeland from the invaders. As Lt. Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) said in Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
It’s been quiet for several days on the battlefront. But the war is not over. It never is.