Feeding Birds, Not Mice…

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …

A couple of weeks ago, my wife came home with a bag of dried meal worms.

She had heard me talking about how our wild birds really seem to like eating them and she bought a bag.

About the weight of a large bag of cheese puffs (maybe!), this bag cost her just under $14.

We have a homemade recipe for suet cakes which involves lard, bacon grease, crunchy peanut butter, oatmeal, corn meal, flower and sugar.

So I thought I’d replace one of the two cups of corn meal with a cup of dried mealworms.

It was a hit!

The birds loved it!!

So, I left the remaining plastic meal worm bag in the garage in my storage cabinet.

Now, I had the oatmeal and cornmeal in hard, plastic containers with twist-on lids.

Several days later, I got into my storage cabinet and noted mouse droppings and a hole in the meal worm bag.

As best as I could determine, a mouse had eaten about 4 dollars worth of dried meal worms.

After cleaning up the mess, I put my meal worms in a large Tupperware container and decided to set a few Victor mouse traps in and around the garage storage shelf.

I checked those traps two days later and they were completely clean of peanut butter but had not been sprung.

“A light eater,” I surmised.

But I had baited these traps with store brand crunchy peanut butter which I feed my birds.

I resorted to “Old Faithful”, creamy Jif peanut butter.

I made certain the tasty treat was deeply packed with the bait and the next day, I found a mouse in a trap.

But I also found two other traps cleaned of peanut butter.

Since then, I’ve yet to see any signs of a mouse visit but the baited traps remain.

Every fall and winter, at least 21 million U.S. homes are invaded by mice.

They’re seeking food, water and shelter from the cold.

Their tiny bodies (and even tinier stomachs) require them to eat 15 to 20 times a day.

Mice actually like garages because most have some clutter and they can find treats like pet food, bird seed and even grass seed to eat.

If you leave food or trash in your vehicle, they’ll find that, too.

Mice can squeeze through an opening the size of a dime and can crawl under things with just a quarter-inch of clearance.

They’re good jumpers, climbers and even swimmers. A mouse can even jump one foot int the air which simply freaks my wife out.

In addition to setting my peanut butter traps and sealing up the meal worms in a hard, plastic container, I also poked around in the storage cabinet for signs of a nest.

Mice prefer to build their lodging near food sources and while I saw mice droppings in other parts of the cabinet, there were no signs of a “mouse house”.

A typical mouse will produce up to 100 “droppings” per day and they also leave behind micro droplets of urine.

They also can carry up to 200 human pathogens so you don’t want them scurrying around where you ;live or work.

Mice are great at math.

They are prodigious “multipliers”.

A female mouse can give birth at 2 months and bring up to a dozen babies into the world every 3 weeks.

They could produce up to 150 babies each season.

Mice will visit 20-30 sites a night but they usually just nibble a bit here, a bit there.

Unless they find the “motherlode”, such as a bag of meal worms, bird seed or pet food.

Normally, they sleep during the day and despite having poor eyesight, they fuinction best in dim light.

Despite being good jumpers and runners, they prefer to travel adjacent to walls and along edges.

Mice are chewers.

Their teeth never stop growing so they gnaw on things to grind their teeth down and keep them at a reasonable length.

That might be why we see few mice at the dentist.

Mice just don’t like the cold so that’s when you’re most likely to have those little rodents invade your space.

Typically, a mouse will live about a half a year in the world.

In captivity, a mouse might spend up to 2 years with you.

If they manage to avoid my Jif peanut butter traps, the cats and hawks like to have them for dinner.

Despite what you’ve been lead to believe about the lives of these creatures, it’s definitely not like Mickey and Minnie at Disneyworld.

For the present, man has been victorious over the rodent invasion in the garage of the palatial Foster estate.

That creamy peanut butter on the bait trigger of a Victor trap seems to always win out.

It’s no John Steinbeck novel but more of s short story “Of Mice and Men”.

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