Monday, September 19, 2016

Chasing Chester the Chocolate-Loving Mouse

We spent Saturday cleaning out our garage because we have a mouse.  Indulge me while I continue to pretend it's just one mouse, thanks.

We first noticed evidence of this mouse during the winter because he ate into a bag of chocolate chips I had carelessly left on the floor in front of our shelves in the garage.  And then later I noticed he had also eaten into a bag of plain M&Ms up on the top shelf.  And also some almond roca pieces from a can the girls had left open on one of the lower shelves.  Those he delicately moved out of the can and nibbled, until the foil wrappers were empty except for poop.  All the other things--boxes of Ritz crackers, granola bars (2 kinds!), graham crackers, etc.--he didn't even touch.

Clearly this was a mouse that loved chocolate.  A mouse that loves chocolate definitely seems like one from a children's book.  I started thinking of him as "Chester".  I thought he would be gone after the winter, and I started not putting chocolate out in the garage.  But alas, Chester did move on to some Sunchip snack mix no one liked that we bought a long time ago at our food co-op.  We discovered this when Anna decided to use some of them up Thursday and found a completely empty bag with a neatly nibbled hole.  There were actually a total of 3 empty bags, so I guess that sustained Chester once I cut him off of chocolate.  The snack mix bags were fairly stale and rancid by this time, so we just tossed the whole box.  But that is what led to the Great Garage Clean-out of 2016.

We put as much stuff out on the driveway as possible so we could sweep out all the droppings under the shelves.  Eventually we got to this dark scary corner between our freezer and the purple garage fridge.  The only time we ever even bother with anything there is when we need some camp chairs or tarps!  
Well, we took every single forgotten item out of this corner, and there we found Chester's quarters.  It was a huge nest made of insulation and shredded paper towel, although I never could see that he broke into our big cases of paper towels.  Knowing us, though, "we" certainly could have just dropped some paper towels and left them for Chester to find.  There was a ton of poop back there too.  I think we have to judge Chester as a refined mouse of good taste because he never bothered the big cord for our fridge which runs right by his nest.  I am so glad he never nibbled on that!
Eventually we got everything put back in the garage.  I got empty plastic storage tubs from the basement to put food in on the shelves, and we moved all the individual bags of chips, which the kids use for co-op lunches, inside.  

We did find an unopened package of mouse traps, so clearly we had these thoughts before, lol.  In fact, we also found a sprung trap under the shelves.  Who knows what we baited it with?  Chester got it out unscathed, though.  Grace was looking at the traps, and she said, "It looks like these will hurt the mouse!"  I said something about it breaking the mouse's neck, which should be pretty  instantaneous death.  "We're going to KILL the mouse?!?"  She was pretty horrified.  Who can blame her?  Our read-aloud just last spring was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H..  We've read Redwall, Ralph S. Mouse, Stuart Little, and all those other classic mouse books.  They're cute!  Also full of nasty poop, and while I can deal with "Chester", I really am NOT comfortable with the idea of a whole family of mice including multiple generations bedding down in the scary corner this whole winter!  Of course, we still haven't actually gotten around to setting the traps . . .

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