Creatures,  Ramblings

Her Dirty Paws and Furry Coat

In our farmhouse in Iowa, we had a lot of mice. A lot of them. In fact, whatever you think is a lot, make it a lot of that amount. We could hear chewing in the walls of every room. There was mouse poop everywhere. We would see multiple mice every day. We set up a camera in the kitchen to record them overnight, and you can see three at a time, I believe, in one of the videos. I can’t seem to locate the recordings at the moment. They were everywhere.

I love animals, and I did not want to kill these innocent little lives, just going about how they knew to survive. So we set up live traps, and there were so many mice that Brian was catching multiple by hand on a near-daily basis. We purchased a little wire cage in which to transport them, as we caught each one, across the river to a large cornfield near the trees. It didn’t take long for that to become too much. So, we purchased a large fish tank with a mesh lid to keep them in until we could mass transport them. They had timothy hay, a little wood arch to hide under, chew, or play on, fresh water, and food. To limit their anxiety, their tank was put in a little cubby with a towel covering the front, two sides, and some of the top, leaving the back exposed for a little light during the day. We did everything we could to prevent their demise, including teaching Levee to “drop it” when she’d grab one.

It wasn’t ideal. Living with mice is a tremendous health hazard and a huge inconvenience. Every dish had to be washed before use, every towel had to be fresh, everything you touched had to be decontaminated before handling. Thorough cleaning was a daily necessity.

When we moved from our farmhouse to the cabin in Connecticut, the mice and the ticks were the only things I was happy to leave behind. We had one evening where voles attempted to infiltrate the cabin from all sides, and then they never appeared again. We never saw any mice or had any signs that mice were around. It was quite relieving to know I could leave an apple on the counter, and it would remain untouched by rodents for as long as I left it there.

When we moved into this home, mice were here. Again, they were in every room, chewing in the walls, pooping on everything. We tried live traps and managed to transport one safely away, but most of them avoided the traps. I have very little patience when it comes to most things, but my patience with animals can often be nearly limitless, yet even I could no longer handle living with the dangers. Someone not far from our home died of hantavirus the year we moved here, so my acceptance of cohabitating with these creatures was knocked even lower.

We turned to traps. Levee was also encouraged to catch them. Sadly, quite a few mice lost their lives. It didn’t take more than a few months before they disappeared. We didn’t see any for a couple years. Now they’re back. For months we have baited traps, only to have them avoided, or the bait is eaten without triggering them.

I’m at a loss. I don’t want to resort to sticky traps because that level of inhumanity is too much for me. Recently, one was improperly caught while attempting to hop a set of traps and thoughts of his distress has caused a ridiculous amount of guilt and tears. I cannot even imagine subjecting one to the fear that being caught on a glue pad would bring. We can’t poison either since Levee catches them, the chickens will kill and eat them, and there are cats around who may also come into contact with them. Traps are all we have, and they’re not taking the bait. Or, I mean, I guess they are, just not how they’re supposed to…

Title From:
Dirty Paws
by Of Monsters and Men