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Jackie Hope: Peanut butter treats for ‘Mousetopia’

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Dickinson,North Dakota 58602
The Dickinson Press
Jackie Hope: Peanut butter treats for ‘Mousetopia’
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Know what a mouse’s fave food is? Peanut butter. We know this is an absolute fact, because Mighty Mouse, his 12 wives and his 144 children are living under our front window.

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They have built a high-rise condo inside the base of our bird bath. They have tunnels that rival the New York City subway system. The front yard is, like, Mousetopia.

Every night they eat up all the peanut butter from our carefully-baited mousetrap. Then, with well-buttered bellies, they escape.

Ah, so many mice, and only one trap. See, we don’t want to hurt any of those midnight skulkers. We just want to stop them from tunneling under the tulips, lunching on the lilies, and competing in the Mouse World Olympics on our lawn every night. That’s right, there are moonlit track and field mouse events, and us with front-row seats.

Solution? We found a handy-dandy, no-kill trap that’s guaranteed to be easy to use, and impossible to escape. So far, we are 0 and 2 on those guarantees.

The trap is a metal contraption. Since the word “contraption” has a trap in its middle, we thought the metal contraption was just what we needed. We found it on eBay, so we knew it had to be quality merch. And completely returnable, right?

It’s a cage about the size of a cracker box, with a lever in the middle and trap doors on each end. Trap doors. See? More indications of how good a trap it is. You put bait on the lever, prop the trap doors open, and when the rodent takes the bait he trips the lever. Wham-o! The doors slam shut and are locked down. It was designed either by Rube Goldberg or the Acme Roadrunner-Catching Company. Or maybe Wham-O. Can’t remember which.

We started out catching voles. Voles are like the hamsters of Mouse World. White-bellied and brown, with little bitty short tails. And they love peanut butter. Factoid: hamsters and peanut butter are two things that do not mix.

Know what happens when hamsters stuff peanut butter into their cheek pouches? Yeah, found out the hard way that the poor guys cannot get the peanut butter back out again. And they make sucky noises all night, trying to retrieve the pouched peanut butter.

But, voles. The fancy schmancy trap worked like a wonder for catching voles. We’d peanut butter it up, and voila — or vole-la — next morning there would be a vole. No longer in his vole hole, but in the trap, awaiting transport to Volehalla. Volehalla is an empty field adjacent to the North Dakota State University Extension Center. It is where vole-ish heroes go after they have been captured in Vole-livia — also known as the east flower bed.

So when we saw a mound of dirt the size of Radar Base Butte in the front flower bed, we figured it was time to get out the trap and the Peter Pan Extra Crunchy. And, hey, 157 mice, at the capture rate of 1 per night, will have us mouseless around New Years.

No, wait. Mice make more mice nearly every 3 weeks. And each litter contains 9 to 12 baby mice. So between now and New Years, one mouse could have 6 litters of 10 babies, and a dozen mama mice could have ... Holy cats! That’s a lot of mice. And, unfortunately, no cats. Oh, BTW, all that litter info is laid on you courtesy of the website Yeah, right. Fun mouse.

Those mice have an amazing skill. They can snatch peanut butter out of the trap, trip the trap lever and escape clean. How do they do that? Do they stick their hands through the holes in the sides of the trap? Do they have super-long tongues? Do they have a battalion of trained ants they send in, like Army quartermasters, to retrieve the goods?

I know those mice are taunting me. I can hear them laughing. Mighty Mouse says to Mrs. Mighty, “Hey, look! More free food!” Mrs. M replies, “And they put it in the drive-thru for us.” Then Mighty goes, “All riiiiight. Lemme call out the ants.” The ants march in, eat the creamy parts of the peanut butter, then bring the chunky PB bits back to the mice. Mighty asks each ant as she quick-steps by, “Whoa, missy, where’s the peanut butter what’s s’posed to be with these extra crunchy chunks?” And each ant replies, “I dunno.” Until the last ant, who says, “What’s peanut butter?”

Which just proves the old adage: ask a stupid question; get a stupid ant, sir.

Well, all righty then. We are so gonna need to buy more peanut butter.

Hope is Our Town’s resident comedian and waxes poetic (and sometimes not-so poetic) about the lighter side of current events in Dickinson, the Oil Patch and the world.