This is the second part of a 3-part mouse story.

In brief recap:

On 12/3/2019 Darwin heard mice in the basement through the baseboard heater:

On 12/4/2019 I caught my first basement mouse.  A few days later I caught a 2nd basement mouse so the first one would have a friend while they wintered over in a hamster cage in the living room.  I don’t usually trap mice in the winter because I don’t have the heart to release them until it’s warm out:

In late March 2020 I noticed odd behavior and a few days later discovered 4 baby mice nursing from their mom.  That’s when I realized they weren’t both female!:

On 4/24/2020 the Dad and one of the babies both escaped.  Within hours of each other, during routine cage cleaning.  How stupid did I feel when the 2nd one escaped…  The Dad dove behind the stove and down to the floor and was already gone when I pulled the stove out.  When the baby escaped the first thing I did was block that route off with a dish towel and the first thing the baby did was bounce off the dish towel blockade.  PHEW!  I found him a few hours later behind stuff on the counter.  I had been very stressed about losing him since he was too small to be living on his own.  At least in my head he was…

I never found the Dad despite setting out humane traps for WEEKS around the kitchen and top of the basement stairs.

Part 1 left off on 5/13/2020 with the Mom and babies living happily in a connected cage on a table in the living room:

Early May had been so cold, with 2 bouts of snow showers.  I was waiting for steady warm weather before releasing them.

On 5/16/2020 I was getting ready to release the mice.  I opened the cage to do something and a mouse baby leaped out.  He was SO FAST.  He leaped off the living room table onto the floor, then ran straight into the kitchen with me, Jim, & a very excited Darwin hot on his tail.  He kept darting under stuff and around stuff, and finally zoomed under the fridge.  CRAP.  I have no idea if it’s the same baby that had escaped and been found 3 weeks earlier, but I like to think it was.  An adventurer.

I pulled the fridge away from the wall and the mouse baby stared in shock and then took off towards the dining room.  Again with me and a very excited Darwin hot on his tail.  He dove under the printer table in the corner, followed by Darwin who skidded under there like a baseball player at home plate.  I dropped to my knees and looked and didn’t see baby mouse anywhere.  What I did see was a hole that brings pipes to the basement.  Big enough for a mouse.  I figured he was gone.  I spent an hour with a flashlight on my hands and knees searching under everything and didn’t find him.  I was so sad and felt like a horrible mouse mom.

When I went back to the kitchen to push the fridge back against the wall I noticed 2 dark patches on the floor against the wall behind the fridge.  Figuring it was more black mold, I grabbed the flash light and discovered it was actually 2 mountains of mouse poo.  I also found a scattering of dry cat food.  Guess where the Dad had been living!  OMG!  I wasn’t sure he was STILL living under there, as it had been 22 days with no sign of him.  I set humane traps all over the kitchen and behind the fridge just in case.

With no sign of the mouse baby, I released the Mom and 3 babies on 5/17/2020.  At first they were all crammed into one little tube but then the Mom popped out:

       

Followed by the babies, one by one [mom is reddish brown, babies are darker brown/grey]:

       

       

Here’s the wooded area and wood pile about ¼ mile from our house where I released them:

The humane traps around the kitchen & fridge caught nothing.  I decided if the Dad was still around, he might like to be back in a cage.  He really loved running in the wheel, and he was probably sick of cat food.  I set up one of the now empty hamster cages behind the fridge, with the side door open, & a piece of paper towel under the wheel to catch any droppings.  The next morning there were droppings!!!:

       

I was super excited.  He wasn’t in the cage, but at least I knew he was still around.

I decided to try and trap him in the cage by making a one-way door that would close behind him.  I cut a square of plastic cross-stitch mesh and tied it inside the side door of the cage with thread:

       

I figured he was smart enough to push it open with his head, and then it would shut behind him, trapping him:

       

That night I set up the cage behind the fridge:

But he didn’t go in.  I was really bummed.  No poops on the paper towel, and no mouse.  The next night I set the cage up at the front of the fridge, with the fridge pushed back against the wall like normal.  The next morning there were droppings & he was asleep in the cage!!!  I was SO HAPPY!!!  My one-way door worked!  I let him relax back in the living room with fresh food and water, and his favorite sky tower:

I was still bummed about the missing baby mouse.  I decided since the cage trap had worked so well for the Dad mouse, maybe it would work for the baby, if he was still around.  I set up the other cage on the floor of the dining room, next to the printer table, without the one-way door.  I left both the side door and front door open hoping he’d smell food and come out.  The next morning there was no mouse in the cage.  I was really bummed.  I thought for sure that meant he was GONE GONE.  I took the cage into the kitchen and was dumping the shavings into the trash when OUT LEAPED THE BABY MOUSE!  He’d been sleeping under the shavings!  I was so shocked!  He leaped onto the kitchen floor and once again ran like a terror through the living room and back into the dining room under the printer table.  DAMMIT!!!

That night I set up the cage again, hoping for a 2nd chance, but no baby mouse.  Nor the next day.  I figured I’d lost my chance and was getting seriously bummed.  On the 3rd night I remembered the scariest scene from Paranormal Activity where they spread flour on the floor hoping to capture evidence of the demon living in their attic.  I spread flour all around the cage and that corner of the dining room.  The next morning there was still no baby mouse in the cage BUT there were tons of baby mouse footprints in the flour!!!:

       

       

So THAT night I set up the cage again, but with the one-way door and a piece of avocado inside the cage.  In the morning there was no baby mouse in the cage, but the avocado had been nibbled on:

The baby mouse was too smart for the one-way door.  DAMMIT AGAIN!  But I was getting closer.  I reinforced the one-way door with a piece of tin:

I cut the tin and taped it to the back of the plastic mesh door, making sure to cover all the sharp edges with tape:

       

I used an awl to poke thread holes in the corners, then bent it a bit so it would be harder for the mouse to open:

        

I used string and secured it inside the cage, over the side door:

       

It still looked like it needed reinforcing so I added a long piece of plastic mesh to the bottom so the mouse baby couldn’t sneak back out around the edges:

       

It worked and on the morning of 5/22 I caught the baby mouse!  He and his Dad were now both re-captured.  HUGE sigh of relief.  The dad had been on the lam for 25 days and the baby for 6.  Now they were both thankfully safe and sound, back in the living room:

My plan was to let the baby recuperate for a few days and then release him in the same place as his Mom and siblings.  I still planned to keep the Dad.  He’d been an indoor mouse since December and seemed quite content to remain that way, despite his escape adventure.

Part 3 involves a failed release and a war.  So much mouse drama!

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