Wednesday, October 21, 2015

PETFO: Night of the Deermice.

We arrived late and met Kip Woolforth, the A-I-R coordinator in the visitor center parking lot.  The artist residence is just up the road a couple of miles on the mesa.  Once the door was open I did a quick walkthrough/flashlight check of all the corners and baseboards.  The previous artist hadn't left it particularly clean but there weren't any arachnids or bugs to be seen so we lit it up and started hauling our stuff inside.  Woolforth had mentioned that there might be some mice around so all the food that didn't go in the refrigerator went on top or on the kitchen table.  Would take an Olympic-class mouse to make the jump to either.  It had been a long day from Santa Rosa so we went to bed as soon as we got settled.  The lights had just gone out when I heard a rustling in the kitchen area.  My flashlight revealed a mouse on TOP of the refrigerator among the food bags, chips, crackers and cereal boxes.  It reluctantly retreated off the back and then peeked around the bottom of the refrigerator at me a few times.

  I'd noticed a blister-pack of traps on the window sill with three unused traps so I baited them with cracker corners and set them out.  I had just switched off the flashlight and put my head on the pillow when we heard: "SNAP!"  I'd caught a large female Deermouse.  Problem solved.  I shook her into the garbage and on a whim, reset the trap.

  20 minutes later: "SNAP!"  A juvenile.  There is no such thing as ONE juvenile.  I reset the trap.

  "SNAP!"  Another youngster.

  Around midnight: "SNAP!"  Another sibling.

 Finished the night with mom and four offspring.  We laid them out on a boulder behind the casita.  By mid-morning a Raven was trying to throat-pouch all five.

Mom and some kids, muerto.


  The next night I caught another two.  The next night, two more.  I found a trap in the sagebrush with a dessicated mouse in it.  I took all the traps and poured boiling water over them to get rid of alert odors, plus was giving any trap site a good paper towel and cleanser-clean after every catch.  I set them on both exits from the refrigerator, on top, in the bathroom, in the storage room and next to the stove.  Six traps.  We skipped a day and then I caught a large male, then two more.  Then one outside and an owl took the mouse and the trap.  The final score was 13 Deermice, as ID-ed by the park biologist.  The last few days the traps sat empty, but when we left they were clean and set with fresh bait.  I could have made a coat.

Big Daddy came looking after everyone vanished, then vanished the same way.

  The Ravens took them all.  Reading the artist's log several people had mice problems but hadn't done much about it.  One woman thought they were so cute that she released one that got trapped in the waste-basket.....IN THE HOUSE.  I'm all for mice and ecology, (and they were dang cute.), but refuse to live with them without making some effort.  Hanta-virus, food-spoilage, fleas, droppings.  There's an un-ending supply of mice on the mesa.....but there are a few less than there were with casita access.

Alternate mouse-disposal on alert.

 Hanta hey and Hanta yo.


  As a bonus I flattened one Brown Recluse that got confused inside the laminated instructions taped on the refrigerator and hammered a young Black Widow that was setting up shop in the corner of the kitchen.  The biologist said all the big snakes had gone to den but there might be some young ones about.  We kept an eye out.  You can't be in the world without other things with you so we never got jumpy, just stayed alert.  Traps worked like a charm, from my point of view.  Deermice might differ.

1 comment:

Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio said...

U r funny. On one hand, my heart goes out to the terminated deer mice, but I certainly don't want to cohabitate with them. Or the spider. Or the snakes. Or centipedes for that matter.
You should've made a coat. Winter's coming!