Thursday, April 5, 2007

A Better Mousetrap

One of the issues we have to deal with while living here on the bluffs is the wildlife. In particular we have a healthy population of squirrels, rabbits and field mice. The squirrels and rabbits stay outside where they belong, but the mice do what most mice do and try to get into everywhere. Although our trailer is completely enclosed underneath and is sitting on wheels, the mice find their way in. We don't have them all the time, but when one finds his way in he tends to revisit regularly until caught.

Last year while we were here I purchased a couple of regular mouse traps and used them with marginal success. These mice are quite small and they do not set off the trap. I really don't enjoy feeding them peanut butter to help them grow up big and strong, but it would usually take several rebaitings of the trap until we finally had success.

Setting the original, regular mouse traps is always a tense proposition. Getting that little bar to hook in place without snapping is a real challenge. I never actually got caught but I sure scared myself many times. Over the winter I found some newer style mouse traps that look like big clips. These are made out of plastic and are very easy to set since you just squeeze them like a clothes pin. I purchased a couple and thought this might be the better mouse trap I had been looking for.

After we had been here a couple weeks we found evidence of a nocturnal visitor. I fearlessly set my new traps and waited. Next day the peanut butter was gone but no mouse. The same thing occurred for three nights in a row. Here we go again fattening up mice. Then one evening while watching TV I heard the trap go off followed by noises. I went over and looked under the counter where the trap was, only to find a tiny mouse caught by one leg and pulling the trap behind him. He was trying to get through a place the trap would not fit, but he was only mad -- not dead. So much for that better mousetrap.

So my search continued. I found some discussion about similar problems on an RV forum I frequent and learned about something called The RatZapper. It is an electronic mousetrap that many people said was the only thing they had found to work. It is a high tech electric chair for mice. It uses batteries to form a very high electrical charge in a small box and sensors to determine when something is inside. It then delivers a deadly zap which is supposed to kill the mouse or squirrel or rat. They guarantee it will work for the smallest mouse or the largest rat.

These devices are not cheap (about $35 internet) but if I was to maintain domestic tranquility I needed to find a solution. I found a feed store in San Juan Capistrano that carried the RatZapper and purchased one. It takes four AA batteries and comes with a small bag of dry dog food which they recommend for bait. I tossed 3 dog food chunks into the box, armed it and placed it under the counter where the traps had been.

Later that evening while watching TV I heard a buzz. I looked at the trap and the indicator light was flashing, indicating that the trap had gone off. Sure enough, one dead mouse! I just picked up the trap and emptied the contents into the dumpster outside. You don't even have to look inside or see the mouse if you don't want to.

I tossed a couple more dog food nuggets into the trap and reset it. Next morning we had another victim. Whoopee! We have had no more mice since the first two, and also no evidence of any although I check it every morning. Thanks to "a better mousetrap" domestic tranquility has been restored to my happy home on wheels.

Otherwise things are going along nicely here. We finally finished the processes necessary for us to work the entrance kiosk, so that has begun. We sell entrance passes and answer questions for visitors to the park. It's enjoyable work. We only work a couple days a week from nine to five so it really does not get in the way of being retired. We still volunteer to do liter pickups on a pretty regular basis as well. We enjoy keeping the park looking good.

The winter camp hosts, Dick and Shirley Sacco, left on the first of April. They spend their summers working as interpretive guides at Founders Grove in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Northern California. It was nice having another couple living here in the park near us. They are nice people and we enjoyed getting to know them.

We will be going up to Widener's for Easter this weekend. Otherwise, there is not a lot of new news to share. We are just enjoying ourselves here by the sea.


  1. I wish I had one of those for my possum. I set a trap and it caught the possum but of course didn't kill it. I didn't want to kill it in a bloody way so we tried rat poison. After a week or so of it laughing at us one of Michelle's friends took it away. It would have been great to have it shocked to death.

    I'm going to have to come see you folks before you leave that park for sure this time.

  2. We have roof rats here in Arizona. They are not in my neighborhood yet, but the experts predict they're on the way. If I ever see (or hear) one, I'm running right out and buying 2 or 3 of these!

  3. Dad- Glad to hear you got rid of the possum! Is Jen back out clearing up the garage?

  4. I've got it made. Our worst insects are crickets, which sometimes live in the walls all their lives, except when they drop through a vent. The monthly exterminator does a great job of keeping all others away. Of course, there are "killer bees" in the area; there have been some here on the property. The lawn people are after them immediately.

  5. You've fallen off the Datastorm map!

  6. Had another little visitor tonight, but he is now in mouse heaven. He was the first one we have seen since the two that first night.

  7. Another example of how technology has made us homo sapiens dominant over the whole world.

    (OK, tell that to the cockroaches.)