There’s a mouse in my pantry. Or at least there was. But there might be more. And that’s A Very Bad Thing.
Of course, when I say “pantry” I really mean “huge underground secure food storage facility.” OK, not that huge, but pretty big. I’m proud of it, anyway. So when I was down there the other day, I noticed a wayward scrap of food. I use the term “food” loosely – it was a piece of Lance ToastChee cracker sandwich, an appallingly compelling assembly of greasy cheese-like crackers and something approximating peanut butter, with a dash of some sort of radioisotope to give it that nuclear-reactor orange color. We got them because we had a coupon, and because we thought they’d make a good carb and protein snack for a certain diabetic kid we know. Didn’t turn out that way – she can’t stand them.
But, they appear to be irresistible to something, because there was a scrap lying on the cans of cocoa powder that slipped through the wire shelves from the package directly above it. The box had clearly been nibbled on, and closer inspection revealed that the intruder had cleaned out about a dozen of these crackers.
Strictly speaking, gnawing on these crackers is not a capital offense in my book. But, simply being a mouse in my pantry is grounds for summary execution – a single mouse could literally cause thousands of dollars worth of damage, given enough time. There are hundreds of soft targets down there – cereal boxes, pasta, bags of wheat and rice. Luckily, we’re down there so often that it would be hard not to notice an intrusion like this before it became a real problem. But this fellow really sealed his fate when I made the next discovery – he chewed into a bag of expensive, very high quality Dutch-process cocoa powder from Penzey’s. Mrs. P uses that cocoa powder in the yearly construction of my birthday cake, an intense double chocolate cardiac assault I’ve taken to calling “Chocolate Infarction Cake” for the nasty habit it has of causing arrhythmias if I eat enough of it. Dangerous, perhaps, but worth the risk. Besides, if it kills me on my birthday – well, who doesn’t like nice round numbers?
So the traps we laid, baited with fragments of the remaining crackers glued to the triggers with a dollop of real peanut butter. I put three traps out, two at the base of the shelf legs I figured he was using to climb up to his stash, and one against the wall. I warned the kids to mind their toes while fetching supplies from the pantry, and waited for results.
Not too long, it turns out. I found one of the traps gone today – not tripped in place, not skunked of its bait, just plain gone. I’ve seen that with mouse traps before. The house we rented while we built this place was infested with mice, and I remember one poor fellow who tripped a trap with his tail. He ran around in the attic with that thing rattling after him for days.
Fortunately for me, this guy was not so lucky. The trap was only a foot or so back under a shelf, with the wire down just on the tip of his nose. Enough to do the job, after a fashion. Just a sniff to investigate for this cautious fellow, I suppose. But not cautious enough.
One down, but are there more to go? Possibly. So, the traps stay out for now. I’m cautiously optimistic that this was a lone gunman, so to speak – I don’t see any evidence of a big infestation anyway. But it sure would be nice to get a bioremediation plan back in place.
Translation: we need a new cat.