July 15, 2011
This morning, around 10:00, I went down to the basement to put a couple of things away, one of them a vinyl mesh grocery bag that I usually keep in my car. I stepped into the garage to put the bag back in the car. As I walked towards the car, I noticed on the floor of the basement a small, grey ball of fur; my first thought was that this was something that had been left by a mouse. On closer inspection, I saw that it was a mouse. On closer inspection still, I saw that there were three such living balls of fur on the basement floor, sitting quietly, moving slowly, to the right of my car in a spot where the sun was shining and underneath an old hole that, long ago, had been gnawed away in an air vent on the ceiling. The sight was so strange, and so disturbing, that I quickly put the bag in the car, closed the garage door, and went back upstairs.
Putting two and two together, I came to the following explanation. Throughout this past winter I had been having mouse problems in my kitchen, and these problems had not gone away, as I had hoped, with the advent of summer; when I returned from a trip to Long Island and Boston recently, mouse droppings were everywhere, even on the kitchen table (previously, mice had not ventured there). I determined to stop this, and set out fresh mice traps. When these did not work (the mouse in question was adept at licking the cheese off the tray without setting off the trap), I finally sought out more effective means. I had scrupled against purchasing glue traps, because they cause the mouse a slow, painful death (“simply deposit the trap, with the mouse, in the garbage” it says on the package, neglecting to tell the buyer that the animal, thus deposited, probably will remain alive for some hours to come until it dies of exhaustion or suffocation). But, at a visit to the supermarket on Monday, I found non-glue traps that looked promising; one of them involved placing bait inside a small, plastic chamber, into which the mouse walks; when, inside the chamber, the mouse steps on a platform upon which the bait is set, the guillotine is triggered. I bought this, along with a couple of other traps, and set them in places I thought the mouse or mice would frequent. The next morning, sure enough, I found a dead mouse on the floor of the kitchen near the kitchen sink; the chamber trap had worked. I took the dead mouse outside and dropped it under some bushes. That was, I think, Tuesday morning. Since then, I have seen no fresh droppings in the kitchen.
My guess is that this mouse was the mother of the three young mice I saw this morning. Not having been fed in awhile, they are weak; perhaps they may even have tumbled out of a nest somewhere in the air vent.
I decided that they had to go out of the house. I put on some rubber gloves, went back down into the garage, opened the garage door, got a shovel and a rake, and nudged and raked the mice onto the shovel. (One of them went willingly; one, the weakest of the three, rolled upside down as though unable to stand; eventually, he got back on his feet.) I carried the shovel, with its three passengers, outside to the corner of our property, and set them down on the road, near the curb and a public sewer. There, I am afraid, they must fend for themselves. It is possible that they may live, and it is possible that a bird or a cat may come by and eat them. It is also possible, of course, that they may simply die there for want of nourishment. I am sorry, but life is hard, and I cannot set up an orphanage for these creatures. When it comes to dealing with mice, I am a Tea Partier and a Republican.