Monday, September 6, 2010

They're Baaaaaaccck!

We seem to have a seasonal problem with out local rodent population. The problem is that they like our house in all seasons.

A lot.

We've been hearing the pitter-patter of little feet above our heads when we're in bed for quite some time. Eventually, we heard them between the first and second floor making their ways between the joists. Mind you, these spaces are all but inaccessible, so it is nearly impossible to get at whatever is making the pitter-patter to trap them.

When we returned from our vacation, we discovered that our vermin (not the bilge rats) had moved into our basement to help themselves to the food that we have in our basement pantry space.

The major downside? - They've been eating our food.

The major upside? - They're in a space where I can trap them.

So yesterday, I put out some humane traps. Before 3 PM I had caught three of these little guys - juvenile White-Footed Mice:

(Note the sunflower seed for scale - they weren't much bigger than a quarter.)

When I catch mice, I get papa-rat-zi. DS and DD go running for their cameras so that they can gush ("Oh, it's SO cute. Daddy, can we keep it?") and proceed to try to take as many pictures as possible before I take it out of the house. ("But Daddy, I didn't get to say 'goodbye'!") Our rodents get sentenced to "transportation" - I either take them for a long ride and drop them in a wooded area or as I've been doing, take them for a really long walk to the wooded area behind our house. I've made the mistake in the past of not taking them far enough and finding them back in the house. (The same mouse came back. How can I tell? Here's a hint - he was called 'Stubby'.)

We also have voles outside of our house living in the gardens and under the splash-blocks. They are small brown animals that are very mouse-like with relatively small eyes. They have furry ears and remind me vaguely of Teddy bears. Unfortunately, they have been making grooves in the grass as escape tunnels from beneath the splash-blocks. Even worse, they girdled one of our ornamental trees in the front yard, killing it.

We had some help the other day from one of the neighbor's dogs who flushed one of the voles out from beneath our air conditioning compressor I managed to catch it in my hands and put it in the jar I had just used to take the third mouse out back. Here he is in confinement.

We knew about the voles as we have been working on a program of sheer terror for the voles - we go and lift the splash blocks on a daily basis - at least twice a day. When we started, I might see nearly a dozen and a half voles. Now I might see one or two - the rest have moved house.

Before I went to bed last night I checked the traps - the little guy on the left was in the trap. As the next-door neighbor children asked to see any mice we might catch, I put him in the jar for the evening. (Besides - I wasn't going walking in the woods in the dark at about 10 PM!) When DW went to the basement the next morning, the mouse on the right was in another trap. That's 5 mice in less than 24 hours! The mouse on the right was round at the middle - we figure she must have been expecting. Better out of the house than in!

Here's "mom" looking a bit nervous about what might happen next...

I was amazed when I released "mom" - she took off for the water that was nearby in the woods and proceeded to go for a swim! She swam strongly and confidently across this length of water before hauling herself out and wandering into the brush.

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