We have mice. We had mice. Have. Maybe both.
We've never had mice in this house before. Chipmunks in the basement, yes. Raccoons in the attic, yes. Ants, moths, roaches, yes, alas, but at least they take turns. We call the big one Earl. Anyway, my husband spotted our one cat playing gleefully withe one of the toy mice a few weeks ago. Turns out, it wasn't a fake mouse at all, but a real one! That trumps any amount of catnip. Dead, thank goodness. Go, Mister Cold Nose! Uh, we have mice?
It's a surprise, really, that we've not had mice before this. Our house is old and ridiculously porous, efficiency retrofit non-withstanding. Anything that finds its way into the basement can scootch under the basement door into the house proper. But we hadn't seen any actual mice, other than the one now mercifully dead. Heard them scuffling in the attic, yes, possibly, which makes our electrician shudder.
We thought, "If there's one mice, there are probably more," but we didn't think any more of it until the following week when I was prepping my caller bag for my next gig, taking everything out and assembling all necessary gear. Lip balm, pens, cough drops, kick-butt throat spray, large paper clips, mini toiletries bag with toothbrush, markers, sparkly name buttons, DARK CHOCOLATE.
I'd already stashed a big bar of dark chocolate in there for my upcoming gig within the last week and told my husband that I'd put one bar in the cabinet and one bar in my bag, but DON"T EAT IT. He smirked at me, and said, "Oh, good. now I know where to find it."
So I reached into my bag and felt a huge hunk of the chocolate just gone. I swore. "Bloody hell, he didn't!" You see, despite DH's teasing, if we run out of the main stash, my caller chocolate remains off-limits, at least in theory. "Oh, he sure did." I pulled out the bar and got a good look at it. Whoever who had gnawed the chocolate had gone straight through the packaging. "Oh... he didn't." But a mouse did! Damn mouse. More swearing ensued when I inspected the bar and determined that I'd be better off throwing out the entire bar. *sniff!* So sad. I took everything out of the bag, and wiped everything down with bleach.
By the time my husband came home from work, I had encapsulated all chocolate and sweet foods such as raisins or sweet crackers into tins, and was busily throwing out any old candy lurking in the kitchen. Out went old candy canes and peeps and Halloween candy. I tinned up the marshmallows while I was at it. I tinned up the new Easter candy I was still hiding. I took every last bit of raisins and candy out of my briefcase so the mice wouldn't be tempted to chew through, which is what you are supposed to do at night when backpacking. I took my cough drops out of my purse.
My hubs came home and looked at the pile of Christmas-themed tins littering the kitchen. "What are you doing?" I just thrust the gnawed bar at him and said, "Goddamn mice ate my chocolate!" "Ohhh!"
We both have memories of the backpacking trip in the Smokey Mountains where we were dogged by mice. Here we were worried about bears eating our food, and the damn mice ran up the ropes and chewed through nearly everything that smelled promising. They even sampled the toothpaste. Ewww. At some campsites, their little eyes could be seen shining in the light of our flashlights. They were everywhere. They really liked our power bars. They must had thought that through-hikers were the best source of food ever. On top of the indignity of them ruining our food supplies, we had to pack out all the soup mix and pricy power bars they had ruined.
So... anyway. Mice. "Good thing you have all those Christmas tins."
The next day, I heard scuffling over on the counter. Yes, they had found my forgotten stash of S'more supplies. Bits of chocolate and marshmallow everywhere. Ugh, ugh, UGH! Throw that stuff out and break out the bleach!
They weren't interested in our cereal and other things they could have gnawed their way into, no. These mice had a serious sweet tooth.
First I tried a pre-baited trap and stuck on an additional marshmallow for good measure, too much of one. The mice ate half of it one day, sprung the trap the next day without getting caught, and ate the rest in two days. It was quiet after that. I guess they had gorged themselves.
For Easter, I put the little girl's chocolate bunny in a Ball jar, her other candy in small containers, and left a note on the table telling her she had too many mice to leave out the candy. I am happy to report that only the intended recipient got to nibble on that candy.
Then my husband was getting ready to make his weekly batch of bread. After the rising and shaping, we got ready to preheat the oven. A horrible stench started arising from the oven. Was it gas? Was our oven about to finally kick the bucket? Was something about to catch on fire? I had visions of mice behind the oven. We didn't want to ditch our batch of bread sitting there in the pans, but I finally made him turn off the oven, and we opened all the windows to air it out. My husband was opening various doors trying to see if anything was stuck in the stove.... and found an enormous pile of fluffy fiber in the broiler! Some of it was still glowing. Thank goodness it wasn't cotton, or it would have ignited instead of smoldered.
My husband demanded latex gloves and got to work cleaning out the pile and trying to shield our daughter at the same time just in case there was a body in there, but thankfully no. Somehow the mice had ferried a ton of fiber from somewhere or other within the previous three days (we bake every 4-5 days). On top of the yuckiness factor of having mice attempting to nest in our broiler, I was also a little concerned about where the fiber had come from. It didn't appear to be insulation, at least. I think it came from some old fuzzy fake fur I once used in a Halloween costume.
A day later, my hubs came in the front door, and caught sight of a mouse running straight down the main hall way! In broad day light! The cats didn't even notice. That creeped out the hubs so much, he went online and found some super duper electronic mouse traps, and had two shipped overnight. Humane traps, forget it. Stuart Little, they were not. He was going to nail those suckers.
The little black boxes arrived. My husband showed me the apparatus. "The mouse goes in, it gets a little charge that kills it, the little green light goes on, and they you just open the lid and dump into the trash. Simple! You don't even have to touch it."
He had baited it with chocolate, he said.
"What?! Noooo! We're not using more of our good chocolate! And don't you dare use the good white chocolate I stock pile for Christmas baking. That stuff is pricy. Next time use that peanut butter the little girl doesn't like."
But no, he did use the awesome white chocolate. Sigh. But we caught mice two nights in a row.
This morning he told me sadly: We didn't catch any mice last night.
But that's good, right? No more mice?
We are still going to leave the mousetraps up, but no more good chocolate will be sacrificed, I swear.