We’re out in the desert. There’s nobody around. It’s 2am, totally dark, and I hear noises outside the camper. What the heck? There are no racoons or large carnivores near here. Deer, cattle and antelope don’t rustle. I peek out the window (nothing but blackness) open the cargo door (nothing but blackness) and go back to sleep.
A bit later I hear more rustling, this time right outside my window. Get the flashlight, turn on the lights … and nothing. Back to sleep. Barely asleep and I hear it again – but now I hear it inside, up by the cab.
No way can I sleep with a mouse in the camper. I’ll be awake all night listening for the critter. We had a mouse in the camper last fall, so I still had one mouse trap in the camper. One is enough – right? If you know what you are doing. A big if…
I set the trap with the first thing I could think of – shredded cheese, left in in the aisle up by the cab and waited. Within a few minutes the mouse snuck out from under the dash and was sniffing the trap. He eyed up the situation, made a risk-based assessment, ignored the cheese in the trap, snarfed up the shreds of cheese that I left scattered around the trap and snuck back into hiding.
Make a note. Don’t leave bits of shredded cheese right next to the trap. Mice are smart.
Mouse 1, Mike 0
No worries – he’ll be back. I clean up the random bits of cheese that I’d left all over the floor when I loaded the trap, sat back and waited. A few minutes later he’s poking his head out from under the front seat, eyeing the trap. This time he sniffed around the trap, reached into the trap, and swiped a chunk of cheese without tripping the trap.
Mouse 2, Mike 0
Maybe press the cheese tighter into the trap? That always works. A few minutes later he’s back. He snuck out from under the dash, sniffed the trap, gave me a look like ‘are you kidding? I’m not that dumb’! Back into hiding he went. Pressing the cheese into the trap is an old trick – one which he apparently had seen on a Tom & Jerry episode. Mice love that show, y’know.
Mouse 3, Mike 0
Perhaps he’s tired of shredded cheese? You can only eat so much of that cheap crap anyway. What else do we have? How about a nice cashew? Can’t resist cashews, can he? So I balanced a cashew on the bait arm and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally he could no longer resist. He came out from hiding, sniffed around the trap, stared at the cashew. And stared. And stared. And stared – doing what apparently was an advanced mathematical calculation involving the weight of the cashew, the friction between bait pan and trip mechanism, the spring tension, the acceleration and velocity of the mouse-wacker. His calculations were spot-on. In a split-second the cashew was in his paws and he was back under the dash.
Didn’t know mice could do calculus.
Mouse 4, Mike 0
About that time – after an hour of being outsmarted by a pea-brained rodent – I remembered that I had a single-serving package of almond butter. Excellent mouse bait and gooey enough that he can’t help but trip the trap. A come-from-behind victory is in the works! I set the trap with a glob of almond butter, made sure that it was stuck good enough to trip the trap (my fingers will attest to that, thank you!), sat back and waited. And waited. And waited. No mouse, no movement, no rustling, no where.
Mouse 5, Mike 0
I eventually fell asleep – dreaming of new ways to wack a mouse. The next day we drove into town and secured enough weapons-grade mouse-wackers to outfit a platoon. Utah is great that way – you can buy heavy anti-rodent weapons without a background check.
That night the camper floor looked like a Tom & Jerry cartoon – enough traps that you needed a map to safely make it to the bathroom and back without loosing a toe. All night I’m waiting for that magic sound – the wack! of a sprung trap. Morning comes. No sound all night. No sprung traps. No mouse. Best guess is that he was well fed enough that there was no reason to stick around, but not so well fed that he couldn’t get back out through whatever opening he got in.
Mouse 6, Mike 0
We’re back home – as of a week ago. The trip went well. Nothing major broke or went off the rails, the weather was good and the scenery was fantastic. I spent today under the camper looking for mouse-sized openings. Found a couple & sealed them up with ‘Great Stuff’ black polyurethane spray foam.