Sunday, May 20, 2018

Our Kitchen Thief Comes in the Night

It started a couple weeks ago. A small bowl of Hershey's Kisses was left on the kitchen table.  The next morning, all the Kisses were gone but their aluminum foil wrappers were strewn on the table, empty.

There were no mouse droppings and no crumbs.  Those chocolates had vanished!  Speaking as one who has had many dealings with house mice, I knew this was not normal mouse behavior.  My Nancy Drew side kicked in.  I was going to catch this animal red-handed.  We started on Sunday, May 13, leaving some cookie pieces on a napkin.  By morning all the cookie bits were gone, leaving no crumbs and no mouse droppings.  It was a neat heist. 

We (that's "Big Eleni" Nikolaides and me)  began musing about a chipmunk--there are dozens in our yard--or a bird (I had heard flapping noises one night)--or a ghost--some of our recently deceased relatives had really loved chocolates.

Hoping to gather clues about our visitor, on the night of May 14--Monday--I placed two chocolates kisses and some cookie bits in the center of a wide circle of flour.  By morning we discovered that the goodies were still there.  It seemed some animal had ventured in toward the treats but then turned back, scared off by the flour.  There was a tiny little hand print, which made me think "Chipmunk."

Big Eleni left some pieces of bread on the night of Weds. the 16th and the next morning, the bread was still there--one piece slightly nibbled.   Our visitor didn't like bread.

We crawled around the floor with flashlights, and examined the ceiling's edges but found no holes where the creature could get in.  Then Big Eleni found a hole on the outside of the kitchen's bay window and covered it with duct tape.  You can see it was in a spot that a small creature without wings would find hard to reach.  There was no corresponding hole on the inside.

That night we set out a virtual buffet for out kitchen thief--cookies, popcorn, almonds and one chocolate kiss.  You can see what we found in the morning: the creature had removed all the treats except for the popcorn.  Our visitor was a picky eater.  And still no crumbs or droppings.

It was time to bring in the big guns.  We put cookie pieces in two "humane traps" and a piece on one trap that has sticky guck so that when a mouse steps in it, he's stuck there.  The box-like traps are left open at both ends, with some food in the center, and when a mouse walks in, both end doors slam shut and the animal is trapped inside, until you carry it far away and release the thing to the wilds.  In the morning, we saw that the thief in the night had managed to remove one cookie piece from the box trap without making the doors come down (he must have reached in without stepping on the floor of the trap) and he (or she!) had also removed the treat from the sticky guck without stepping on it and getting stuck.

That was this morning.  What we had learned so far was that the wily thief was smarter than we are.

So tonight--Sunday night--we have put out the box traps once again, making sure the cookies were right in the middle of the box--not close enough to grab--and we've put a single piece of cookie on the floor near the back door, just in case the thief can get in under the door.

Tune in tomorrow to see if we've made any progress in catching--or even identifying--the creature who comes in the night, who is starting to seem like our pet or a member of the family.

1 comment:

mzg said...

When we first moved into our last house we had a bit of a mouse problem, and there is rarely one lone mouse. We had great success with these reusable traps. They are not humane, in that they do kill the mice, but they do not suffer, unlike snap traps or, god forbid, glue traps. They are a little more expensive, but they are reusable and work great. We put peanut butter in the end of the trap and placed it where we suspected the mice were coming from, and flipped a switch to turn on the battery powered trap. The mouse walks in towards the lure and once, before getting to the prize, his/her feet touch the 2 contacts, making the electrical connection, and the mouse is instantly electrocuted. Then a light goes on on the trap. You simply carry the trap to your outdoor garbage bin and turn it upside down and the mouse falls into the trash. Turn it right back up and it's ready to go with the peanut butter still inside it for the next mouse. I've been asked if they are safe with children around and I believe they are. If if a child were dexterous enough to open the trap and touch both contacts at once, the amount of electricity, while enough to kill a mouse, would not harm the child.

Here is a link to the trap I used:

Here is a link to similar models: