I’ve been staying at our ethanol plant in Moses Lake, and I’ve got a bit of a rodent problem.
The locals tell me that these are “field mice”, and that if you have a place near grain fields these will invade your home. Wikipedia says “field mice” actually are meadow voles. Reading further, one can tell the difference by doing things like counting toes and looking at ear shapes and the like. I’ll more carefully examine the next prisoner and likely extract more information from him.
So far I’ve caught 3 with the Mouse Cube. Walmart sells these for $1.50. They catch the mouse because they can push a door open from the outside, but can’t open it again from the inside. Here’s prisoner #3 checking to see if that door is going to open just one more time:
The mouse cube is made from dark gray transparent plastic. The transparency makes it easy to see if there is a mouse in there, and how well they’re getting along with captivity, while the darkness makes it an attractive and comforting place to crawl into. The above photo was taken in direct sunlight and undoubtedly was stressful.
Reading on the internet, it appears that some people have had various difficulties with the trap. First, I think it is important to put the trap in a place where the trapped mouse is going to feel relatively comfortable hanging out. If you put it in the middle of your floor, then the guy is going to go nuts when the sun comes up and maybe he will tip the trap over, and get out that way.
Oh yes, the way you get the mouse out is by turning it upside down, so that the hinge of the door is on the floor instead of the ceiling. Then, assuming the mouse doesn’t keep pressing against it, the door will fall open and, seeing freedom, he will exit.
I suppose you could just set the the trap upside down and if you wait long enough, he’ll come out, but it seems that people have their own time scales, and tend to shake the box a little in order to encourage a timely exit, for example, in order to make a “great escape” you-tube short movie: “Setting Free The Mice – Mice Cube”.
The instructions suggest using peanut butter to bait the cube, but that sounds messy to me. Instead, I’ve used candy that smells like peanut butter. The first time I did this, I used just a few crumbs. Uh, that was all that was left of a bag of one of my favorites, a very old candy, Atkinson’s Peanut Butter Bars. As mouse bait, these are quite efficient, 30 pounds for $59.43 from the factory.
The above bait caught a mouse the first night. More recently I’ve used peanut butter flavored malted milk balls, but I don’t think that these have as scrumptious an odor as the peanut butter bars and it was only on the second night out that a victim showed up.
That first prisoner was rather bedraggled looking and I concluded that part of this was due to inadequate amenities. So I’ve added an upside down plastic bottle cap with water to the provisions. Perhaps this makes for a calmer rodent.
The usual punishment for the crime of “rodent caught on ethanol plant” is transportation. In this case, to a location several miles to the east. There the prisoner is released.
The mouse cube is fairly constricting so after a while their respiration will add moisture to the walls. This will get their fur wet, and so here’s our bedraggled criminal, escaping in the general direction of Spokane:
Check your cubes each morning otherwise you will end up with a burial detail and may have to explain the embarassing situation to the Red Cross.
This mouse trap requires the mouse to push open the door. Another cool mouse trap is the tilting kind where the weight of the mouse causes the contraption to tip over, closing the door.
I suspect that a little thought would design a good mouse trap from common material with little requirement for construction ability and may consider doing something like that.