Little Rocky 2/20/21

Update by Richard Bleil

My little family seems to keep growing. But let’s start this story at the beginning, with peanuts.

Yes, peanuts. My good friend, knowing that I like peanuts, gave me a bag full of them, all still in their shell. I do like peanuts, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to remove them from their shells without making a huge mess. So, I decided, rather than eating them, to save them for the wildlife in the spring that decides to visit my yard. But don’t tell her that I said I’m not going to eat her peanuts because I don’t want her to be upset. Oh, and if you’re my friend who gave me these peanuts, don’t read this.

The peanuts are in a bowl in a high cabinet. My first suspicion that I had a little unwelcome roommate was when I opened the cabinet and two peanuts fell out that were against the door. There seemed to be no way for the peanuts to be there unless they had been pushed. A little later, I got into my utensils drawer where I keep extra fast-food sauce packets that I didn’t use so I don’t have to throw them away. A packet of ranch, and a packet of hot sauce had been chewed open and eaten. There was no spill, so clearly my stealth roommate ate all of it, and apparently has a taste for hot sauce. That blew my mind.

So, out I go looking for traps. I don’t like killing things if I don’t have to, though. My secret roommate has as much right to live as I do. I should say, if my cat Star found and killed it, I would have been okay with that. To me, that’s just nature; the cycle of life. But, Star, sadly, is not much of a hunter (which is why she’s on a diet), so I figured I would have to take matters into my own hands.

That’s when the little bugger called me out. I found my unused sponges on the floor in front of my sink. The rascal was letting me know that he was there, and he didn’t care who knew. He was mocking me, telling me he’s not afraid. I took my new humane traps (very simple devices that allow mice in then close so they can’t get out) and baited them with peanut butter. I put one under the sink since, clearly, he had been there before, and two in the basement (one near the heater, and one near a slow leak I have in my pipes). So, with warmth, water and yummy smelling food, I figured I had a pretty good shot.

Sure enough, this morning as I checked the traps, I found Rocky. Such a little cutie-pie, gray and white fur, and the biggest brightest eyes you can imagine. I’ve done a little bit of research, and I’m convinced he’s just a little field mouse. I named him Rocky because of how tough he is, clearly calling me out and showing no fear whatsoever. So, do I kill it, let Star eat it, or set it free? Or…none of the above.

We’re here in the midst of winter, and although the brutal cold snap seems to have ended, nature is still sleeping. There’s not much food out there. I guess if I found a hawk or owl out there Rocky would make a pretty tasty snack (circle of life, right?), but in the end I decided that it was not so humane to capture him alive just to set him out to starve and possibly freeze. So, I made the decision that for at least a month or two, I have a new roommate.

I went out and bought a little rodent pet starter kit. I bought a little cage with a food bowl, water bottle, hidey hole and exercise wheel, as well as some paper-based bedding and rodent food. Today Rocky is hanging out in his hidey hole but seems very calm. As an experiment I did take a sliver of cheese and hold it to the bars of the cage and, true to his courageous nature, he did come right up to check it out. He didn’t take it from my, but I put it in his food bowl, and he did eat it.

There is a good chance that his family is still here somewhere, so the traps are still set. If I find more, they’ll get to share the rodent motel and I’ll release them all together. If he’s alone, I figure I’ll give him a choice. I’ll let him go in a field. If he runs away, he’ll be free, but if he comes back to me then he’ll be a permanent roommate. This might seem odd to you, but I acknowledge the possibility that he may have been a pet of previous tenants of this house (which does show signs of children) that escaped. If I find more of his family this is far less likely. So, we’ll see.

Meanwhile, I want Rocky to feel safe and welcome.

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