Thursday, June 21, 2012

Death by Chocolate: Review of an effective mousetrap

See that gap on the left?  Yeah...
After my DIY re-flooring adventure a few months ago, I lazily left my wall molding unpatched over an inexplicable gap that was left in my wall due to lazy previous installation of the floor baseboard by the previous homebuilder/owner.  Being a good procrastinazn, I figured finishing off my floor edges and patching up that gap wasn't a big deal.  I could live with a hole; it's only a good, oh, two or three inches high and just a few inches wide.

So I suppose a lot of this was my own fault...

Anyhow, probably about two weeks ago, a small brown mouse tunneled its way into my wall and slipped through that hole into my home, where it ravaged my chocolate hoard in the night.  It ignored the rice, crackers and cough drops and made a beeline for the good stuff.

I would hear little scratching, scrabbling noises as it inhaled a chunk the size of a full stick of gum from a gourmet chocolate bar, and ripped into a bag of Lindor truffles that it found in some boxes I had on the floor and table.  It pooped on the floor, shed little hairs on my dining room table when it groomed itself, and while refreshing itself at the faucet, also pooped in my kitchen sink.


This meant war.

In general, when dealing with an animal intrusion, you basically have three options.  Try to co-exist, try to capture and relocate the critter alive, or try to exterminate it.  In general, when it comes to animals that not only easily reproduce and overpopulate, but also are potential vectors for disease, I tend towards the extermination course of action.

So after cleaning up and boxing away the remainder of my food and chocolate, came the search for an effective, cheap and permanent way to get the mouse outta the house.  As anyone who has dealt with rodents will know, they are nocturnal and shy by nature.  They are, however, also creatures of habit, using the same general pathways and exits/entrances.

I faced these mouse elimination options:
1. Poison.
2. Traps.

I traveled to my local Home Depot, where I found several different styles and types of trapping mechanisms, as well as poisons.  I considered the poison baits, but people have cautioned against using them unless you must, as the mouse is unlikely to die immediately after consumption of the poison.  That leaves it free to crawl back into your wall or under your bed or inside your winter sweater storage bin or some other place inside your home, suffer a likely unpleasant death from the poison, and then begin to stink if you don't find it quickly enough.

That left the traps.

Most people have seen the Victory brand, old-style wood-spring-metal bar types, but I had heard enough stories about shoddy construction to avoid them.

Sticky traps were next, where the animal is supposed to walk onto the sticky pad after being lured there by food you set out, to get stuck there like flies on flypaper until you come by to deal with them.  Problem was, the brand at Home Depot did not appear to be sticky at all.  I pulled a sticky panel from the box and tested the stickiness in one corner with the edge of a piece of paper.  It was at most tacky like chewed gum, at worst the texture of melted gummy bears, with no grip to it at all.  I had to discard it as a viable option, though I had to debate with myself for awhile.  Maybe if the trap was deeper, and the target animal heavier, it could work; like a horse trying to ford quicksand, it would mire itself without hope of escape.  But mice are small and light; even with all the chocolate this mouse had been consuming, I was willing to bet it would dance right over the "sticky" surface and dance right off again with any bait. 

Home Depot also offered a more expensive electrocution trap that I passed over.  K.I.S.S.  The more parts and the fancier the mechanism, the higher the chances something could go wrong.  The Victor electric trap does have good reviews on HD's website, though.

This Ortho Home Defense Max Press 'N Set trap is what I finally settled on.  It looked sturdy, had the simplest, most efficient and humane mechanism, and had pretty high reviews on Amazon.

I bought six of the suckers, since I wanted to put out as many tempting traps as possible.  They're easy to bait; I used peanut butter for two, and the mouse's apparent favorite, Lindor chocolate truffles, for the other four.
Ortho Trap baited with peanut butter, showcasing its impressive snappy mechanism.

I set them out all around the hole in the wall, and along the edges of the wall just in case the mouse missed some on its nocturnal meanderings.  Let me tell you, if your rodent population has a sweet tooth, Lindor truffles are amazing for bait, because they melt so quickly as you're stuffing pieces into the well that there's no way the mouse can just snatch-and-run; it's going to have to hang around and really work to eat it.

I left the traps out in the early evening, turned out all the lights, and left my place for the night.  I figured the less disturbances the better.

Come out and feast, mus musculus!
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand lo and behold: problem solved the very next day!  Mouse was caught (in a chocolate trap, of course).  I could not help feeling somewhat triumphant.

This must be what it feels like to be a cat.

It was a clean, instant kill, from the look of the aftermath.  Two words: cervical dislocation.

Thanks, Ortho!  And just for fun:

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