Thursday, June 4, 2009

Professor Einstein

We finally caught Prof. Einstein!
I have not posted about Prof. Einstein before, but to fill you in We had a mouse type animal get into our basement and our cold seed storage room.
Seed room+Mouse-= bad, bad, bad.

Prof. Einstein came into our basement sometime between last October and last January.
We built our cold seed storage room in December.
We first discovered that something was amiss when we were cutting some carpet for the Colorado Garden and Home Show and out of the carpet role poured out red popcorn!
After a week or two it clicked Sammy. (Sammy was a kangaroo rat we had once had)
We realized that we had a critter with several of the habits of our old kangaroo rat. However we never saw any mice poo.
Well one day we discovered some of Life Seed Companies seed packets were torn, and all of seeds were missing, and we kept discovering more and more of those packets mixed in with our seed racks.

We immediately realized that we had a major problem and took some steps to try to secure the cold room.
Later during intense investigations we discovered a small hole that went all the way into the cool room. We tried to block it but by this time I had a surveillance camera deployed to scan the basement at night, and oh my, the critter never came out the next two nights.
This was a major problem as it appeared that Prof. Einstein was living in the cold room.

To make a very long story somewhat short we tried all kind of live traps and I was continually acting on intelligence gathered from the nighttime surveillance camera.
Professor Einstein earned his name by easily avoiding all of our traps as well as shamelessly poising for the night camera. He would come up real close and stand in a frontal view and then turn to each of his side views in front of the camera. I dubbed that behavior as "poising for prison shots."
He was always up to something and he clearly enjoyed and knew what that camera was.
Example: he would swagger past the camera with his tail wagging really fast up and down as he raided a pile of popcorn, the prison shots, and all sorts of other ridiculous behavior.

Months later: brings us to a few days ago. We were getting desperate and considering poison, but before we did that we decided to try a sleeping pill. So we put out 2 peanut butter scoops mixed with a quarter of sleeping pill each. One was outside of the cool room and the other was inside. We also completely sealed off the cool room so that he could not get in or out of it. When we watched the video of the night we discovered two things. 1: he was still super active over an hour later, and 2: when he went to reenter the cool room via his small hole and discovered that he could not get in he just went nuts! He ran like lightning over to where the door to the cool room is and seeing that blocked came zipping back over to his hole and then started running all over the place for about 5 minutes. We think he was living in our crawl space, based on the most recent Intel. So we then decided to use a homemade trap using a big box and the trigger from a store bought one.
To give you a basic idea of the triggering mechanism it was a metal ramp suspended over a fulcrum with a metal flap that would pop up and block the entrance/exit hole when the mouse walked over the ramp. Kinda like a teeter totter.
Well we changed a few things like pushing the trapping flap outside of the box a little so that Prof. Einstein could not get his hands on it to forcibly pull it down (He is called Prof. Einstein for a reason. He is easily the smartest rodent I have ever seen.) We also added a little bit of peanut butter under the ramp (accidental) and were hoping that it would help it stick one the Prof. was inside the box.
Now the reason the store bought trap never worked was because we were trying to get the Prof. into a really cramped area and there was no way he was going to fall for that kind of pathetic trap.
So we tried this trap last night and in the morning we watched the video.
The Professor entered the trap and ran right back out (did I mention that a friend of ours had tried a larger professional style trap and the Professor ate the bate without setting it off.) We were Shocked!
After further analyzing I discovered that Professor Einstein had run into the trap at full speed by putting his hands and feet on the tiny rail on each side of the ramp! He then exited the same way.
By the way he must have discovered that his peanut butter from the last night had been tapered with because he did not touch any peanut butter again.

Today we reset the trap and poured a bunch of seed in there in the hope that in one of the Prof. many trips to get to the seed he would set off the trap. I also added a quarter to the rail in hopes that as he ran up it would fall onto the ramp and trip it.
When my dad went downstairs to check on it at about 10:15 P.M. (about 15 minutes after I put the money in) he discovered that we had caught Professor Einstein!
So We checked to see just what kind of mouse he was and to my utter surprise (based on the night vision videos it looked like a larger mouse) the Prof. was a Deer Mouse!
We let him go about a mile from our house to use his amazing skills in the wild and I will be on a sharp lookout to make sure there are no other mice around.
So that is the shortened story of our acquaintance with Professor Einstein.



Gail said...

He was lucky you were into trap and release! gail

Laurie and Joshua said...

Yes he sure was!
However by the end of it we were determined to get him out even if that meant poison.
At the same time though he was so smart that I did not want to hurt him.