We’ve known for some time now that we had a mouse living in our house. My son first spotted it several weeks ago, scurrying between his closet and the pile of dirty towels on our upstairs landing. At some point it moved downstairs, because we could always tell when the dog caught sight of it. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered several holes it had nibbled into the dog kibble – not to mention a rather disgusting pile of mouse poop – so I cleaned out that cupboard and bought a plastic tub to keep the kibble in (and the mouse out).
Undaunted and undeterred, the mouse sought food elsewhere (thankfully, it has not yet gotten into our pantry). It got into a bag of flour I had left sitting on the kitchen table. Then, one day last week, when I called home to check on my son, who had the day off from school thanks to a water main break, the first thing he said upon answering the phone was, “Oh my God, Mom, when I went to answer the phone, the mouse popped out of the toaster!”
Ever since then, we’ve had more and more close encounters with the mouse, always in the kitchen. One night as I was at the sink, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a pointy gray nose and two beady black eyes poking out of the grill on the dishwasher, watching me. Another time, my son spotted the mouse in the sink; as we bent over for a closer look, it scrambled out and tried to hide behind the phone. When I shifted the phone, it ran across the counter towards us and leaped down to the floor (quite a long ways down, and I was amazed it wasn’t hurt), then ran under the stove.
Last Friday was our most remarkable encounter. I had fried pork chops, potatoes, and onions for supper, and in the process spilled a bit of pork grease on the stove. As I turned away from the table to start cleaning up, I spotted the mouse greedily licking up the spill. We got close to watch – so close I could hear the sound of its tiny tongue lapping up the grease. On a whim, I got a bit of dog kibble (my son had tried leaving an offering of popcorn earlier in the day, which the mouse had refused) and placed it on the stove, my hand no more than 3 inches away from the mouse. It froze, but didn’t run; when it had finished licking up the grease, it picked up the kibble and scampered away to its hiding place in the stove.
Tonight we discovered that we have not a mouse, but mice. Two, at least, because my son got video footage of both of them (at the same time) on top of the stove after we’d finished supper. One of them was clearly much bolder than the other – while it helped itself to the leavings on my broiler pan, the other watched nervously from the safety of the vent on top of the stove, though at one point it did venture far enough to lurk behind a saucepan.
As I was cleaning up before bed this evening (a fed mouse does tend to produce poop and, unfortunately a lot of that poop ends up on our stove) I saw one of the mice emerge from the stove, then shimmy down the electrical cord and behind the fridge. I couldn’t help wondering if it was actually just visiting the mouse who lives here and was on its way home elsewhere, and was reminded of the old tale about the city mouse and the country mouse.
I’ve told several people about our lodger, and their general response has been to ask what I’ve done to try to get rid of it. I admit, when I discovered it had gotten into the dog food I did buy a set of sonic repellants (which, I’ve discovered, do not work in the slightest – one of them is plugged in right next to the stove, where the mouse clearly lives) as well as the sort of trap that electrocutes the mouse (I can’t bring myself to set one of those spring traps, a live trap would probably attract the dog’s attention before I could do anything, and poison is definitely out of the question), but I haven’t set the trap, and I don’t think I will – though I may change my mind if we end up being overrun.
Really, as much as it horrifies some people, I like having the mouse around. It’s got a lot of personality, and brings us loads of entertainment. Perhaps it’s a lifetime of Disney movies, or maybe all those books I read as a child about wildlife rescuers and people who just naturally attracted animals (my grandfather was one of those people, too – I’ll always remember the mama mallard who returned to the neighborhood pond for many years, and each summer she’d bring her brood of ducklings up to Granddaddy’s house to show them off and, of course, quack for treats), but I’ve come to think of the mouse as part of our little family, and hope he stays with us for a while.
Who knows, maybe there’s a children’s book that could be written from this experience.