I went to get into my car Thursday evening, and was greeted by this sight: a hole chewed into the side of the bag of pistachios that I had sitting on the front seat.
The array of bag shrapnel scattered around the container is the giveaway that this wasn’t just an accidental tear in the paper. I didn’t simply rip the bag moving other item in and out around it. It was a mouse.
Or at least some sort of rodent, since many of them share the same chewing-thru-stuff approach. Mice are a common evil out here - common and evil enough that I once spent several minutes watching, enjoying, and taking video of one of our cats essentially torturing a mouse. I wanted to be able to enjoy it again and again and…
Mice in the barn, mice in the shed, mice in the house, these are common, if frustrating, occurrences. Mouse in your car - particularly a car that is routinely used - not so much. It’s not unheard of, mind you, but when it happens, in my experience, it’s usually somewhere in the partially-covered semi-exterior regions of the vehicle: the engine compartment. Several years ago our Chevy HHR had mice nesting in the engine air filter. Still, inside the passenger compartment is not a typical thing.
This leaves one pondering as to the how and the why. Have the mice living here suddenly encountered a huge evolutionary advance, making them believe themselves capable of operating motor vehicles? Does this particular mouse have someplace to be, and he’s gambling that, by some stroke of fate, I’ll happen to drive to that place? Is this some sort of vengeance play by the local mouse consortium to pay me back for taking and posting that Cat and Mouse video?
Thursday is garbage day, and I take the garbage in to be taken away either Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings, and I had done so this week. One of our two 50-gallon garbage cans has a hole in the bottom of it. Occam’s Razor would suggest that this, and not some sudden advance in mouse sentience or a plot by rodent yakuza, is the more likely cause.
And, of course, I take the garbage cans in my car.
It didn’t take me long to sort out the likely cause, but that was really only half the battle. The more important question was what to do about it. I spend a lot of time in the car and, while one might think it nice to have some company, I’d rather not argue with a rodent about what to listen to on the radio. Oh, and also: mice are destructive, unpleasant creatures to live with.
I could have put down poison - we have bait boxes in the house for this very purpose. My fear, though, was that this little dude would eat the poison but then crawl up into some deep, dark recess under the dash and die, leaving me to dig him out of there or endure the wretched stench of dead mouse for weeks on end (if you haven’t ever experienced it, believe me when I say you would be amazed at how much, and how badly, such a tiny little thing can stink). So instead I decided to go with a mousetrap - the good, old fashioned spring and snap style Victory mousetrap. As soon as I got home that evening I baited one with a tantalizing bit of peanut butter and set it in the passenger seat foot well.
I got up the following morning with much hope and anticipation, particularly since I was going to be in the car for much of the day with appointments in disparate locations. I was, shall we say, disappointed.
The trap was completely denuded of peanut butter. And completely unsprung.
Needing to get places, I simply re-baited the trap and put it back in the foot well and headed out. I really didn’t expect the mouse to come out and take the bait while I was driving, but I was hopeful that he’d perhaps venture forth for a snack while I was in one appointment or the other.
What I did not anticipate was the extremely disconcerting experience of a tiny, dark shape darting across the passenger foot well while I was driving. Only happened a couple of times, thank goodness, but, well, ewww.
After each stop of the day I came out to look at the trap and see, only to find it untouched, unsprung. That is, until the last stop of the day, at which it was again completely denuded of peanut butter and completely unsprung.
Reasoning that this was, perhaps a trap that was not quite sensitive enough, I pulled out a couple more of them and placed them in the car, one in the passenger foot well, one in the back seat, and went in for the night.
My cries of victory could be heard far and wide the following morning! The triumphant hero, I left with an imaginary ticker-tape parade, held in my honor, playing in my head. And the mouse, that awful foe, well, he went home on his shield.