The photo at the left is of a sprung mouse trap found two rooms away from where I had set and placed it; the yummy peanut butter on the trigger completely gone.
The back story: Some sort of little rodent had recently chosen to take up squatting in our vacant house which we have up for sale. Since squinty-eyed little vermin are not a particularly attractive selling feature for a home on the market, the little visitor(s) would need to vacate.
After finding evidence (droppings) around the parameter of the kitchen floor, and bits of chewed insulation from the garage door, I purchased a few of the cheap garden-variety mouse traps, bated them with peanut butter and placed them at strategic locations around the house.
I had every confidence that I could catch the offending rodent as my major in college had been Biology; particularly excelling in Vertebrate Natural History and Mammalogy. I had been on numerous expeditions in the field where I had trapped any number of small mammals including rats, squirrels, bats, mice even a nutria once. My university level knowledge on animal Ethology and the natural history of small mammals would surely be of practical use now after a 32 year career in banking, information technology and social services.
Unfortunately it appeared that the rodents had also availed themselves of studying the predatory habits of Homo sapiens likely in an effort to ensure their survival. For when I returned to check for trapped rodents, I found all the traps sprung and devoid of their bait; the one pictured having been carried victoriously down the hall and displayed as vengeful mocking.
In reexamining the animal’s droppings evidence again I noted that they seemed rather large for a mouse. Perhaps my quarry was larger, perhaps the Dusky-footed Woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes) which I had so successfully trapped in my college days. Clearly what were called for were larger traps.
However, the following morning, one of the large traps had again been sprung, the other, carefully avoided. When I related my lack of success to Nancy, she drew on her Psychology degree and extensive research in college with rats, reminding me that the animal had now been “conditioned” to avoid the traps. This concept ran through the crevices of my brain like a maze – of course... rats had the capacity to “learn”! A strategy would be needed.
The game between the rats has now escalated. I recalled having had previous success with “sticky” traps”; little plastic pans with gooey jelly which ensnares the little buggers. I placed these adjacent to paper plates of enticing peanut butter. But yet again the following morning, the traps remained untouched and the peanut butter uneaten.
At this point Nancy suggested that we call an exterminator. Indignantly I refused; I was not about to let an expensive college education go to waste – I became even more determined to catch that rat.
By this point I had been invested in increasingly costly trap solutions; my military budget required expansion. I obtained a “Rat Zapper”; a trap which lures the rodent into a small box at point it is dispatched via a huge jolt of electricity. The zapper instructions recommended that the bait, resembling dog food, be placed nearby the un-set trap for one or two nights prior to turning on the lethal current. The strategy: to build up a sense of confidence in the little pest so that it would let down its guard, enter the zapper and…
I placed the zapper trap and spread out the delectable fare to attract the little monster. However the next day the bait remained untouched; likewise the second and third days as well. I also noticed there were no longer droppings in the house. Had my quarry decided to move on to more sumptuous digs?
The rat and I decided to mutually retain our dignities ending the the conflict in a truce.