Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Mouse Who Rode Shotgun

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It's getting colder and critters are looking for warm places to winter over, such as your house or car.

Mark saw it first - working in food service, he has a keen eye.  Small black dashes that I thought at first were pine needles.  But it was mouse poop, and once you get over the "Eeeew!" factor, you get out the Clorox wipes and clean everything.   We made an outdoor kitchen for the back of the truck that was bear-proof, but not mouse-proof.   Back to the drawing board.

This is not the first time we've had a camping experience with mice.   Once in Vermont, I felt something run across me while I slept.   I thought I was dreaming, but got up and snapped on the light, and there in the middle of the floor was a field mouse, looking very confused.  They have great night vision, so when you turn the light on, they are blinded, temporarily.  Before I could stomp him (in my bare feet?  Ugh!) he ran around.  Mark opened the door and he went out.

Back when we had two houses and six cars (what were we thinking?) we were well aware of the mice problem with cars.  They love to live in cars and gnaw through the wiring harness - at the most inconvenient location - and cost thousands of dollars in damage.  We caught it in time - one of the E36 cabrios had a little gnaw-through which I was able to fix with solder, shrink-tubing, and some liquid electrical tape.  They made a nest in the air filter box, gnawing the air filter for some nesting materials.

Mouse poison works best - you scatter the little bags around and they eat it and it does horrible things to them.  They usually come out of hiding as they die.  Kind of mean, I guess, but traps have a mixed record of success.  We tried the sticky glue traps, and all they did was provide evidence of mice being present (little footprints in the glue).   The classic "mouse trap" works sometimes, and sometimes they just "steal the cheese".   I found rat traps worked better - the cut the mouse in half, which is kind of gross.  But the poison bags - that worked the best.  If you have a car, RV, motorcycle, or boat in storage, you have to scatter around some poison bags.

Don't break them open, however, or your dog or cat might eat the poison - with tragic results.

Like I said, we suspected mice in the back of the truck.  But what about the engine?  I opened the hood and was shocked to see a mouse, standing on top of the coolant expansion tank, staring at me.   I tried to swat him, and he ran away.  We tried flushing the engine compartment with cold water from a hose connected to our outdoor shower.  Then we tried hot water - the mouse thanked us for the Swedish spa treatment.

We got on the road and ran the truck up to 70 mph - hoping the breeze would blow him out.  We stopped and I opened the hood, and there he was sitting, as if to say, "That was so cool!  Do it again!"  He ran down the side of the engine compartment and down into the fender.  When we got back, I blasted the inside of the fender with hot water - I am not sure if it deterred him much.

We put a sticky trap in front of the radiator with a pistachio nut in the middle of it.  This morning, there was footprints in the sticky, along with a tiny note thanking us for the snack.  So back off to the hardware store

Up here in the Adirondacks, we found the traditional spring traps at the local hardware store.   We also found glue traps - they didn't work as I noted.  We've baited the spring traps with pistachios on some and chunky peanut butter on others.   We'll have to see if our shotgun rider is still around tomorrow or not.

Either way, we're getting some poison bags.  And when we get back, I'm fixing the outdoor kitchen so there are no gaps in the lid!

Camping with nature - what's not to like?