Our cabin has a summer kitchen. That means it is screened-in but is in no way watertight or varmint-proof. I had been having some problems with what I thought were mice eating foodstuffs left on the counter. The confusing part was that the evidence the critters left behind was much larger than mouse poop. I set some mouse traps but they kept disappearing. One day I came down to the kitchen and found a squirrel, flat on his back with his supplicating little paws up in the air, killed by a mouse trap.
That was the end of the problem until earlier this summer. This time, something chewed through tin foil, plastic, Tupperware, the window screen, and my whole summer supply of granola. That was the last straw. My rodents were wilier than mousetraps, so I went to the hardware store to see what my other options were. All they had were little plastic houses that the mouse is supposed to go in, eat poison inside, and die there. The door in the trap was not nearly big enough for a squirrel. But my eyes soon alighted on a giant mouse trap billed as a rat trap! The perfect size for squirrels! I do not want to kill squirrels, but likewise I do not want them roaming around my kitchen eating whatever they please. So I set my giant rat trap, loaded it with peanut butter, and went to bed. At 1:00 in the morning I was awakened by someone knocking at the door. Knock knock knock. Knock knock knock. Who could it be? We live on an island accessible only by boat. Who would be boating around in the dark at 1:00 in the morning? Again knock knock, knock. I finally threw on a bathrobe and went downstairs with my flashlight. No one was at the door. No one was knocking. But there on the counter, in the rat trap, was the hunched form of a dead squirrel. He must have been in his death throes when I heard the trap knocking on the counter. Oh well. I was not going to deal with his corpse at 1:00 in the morning, so I trudged back to bed. As soon as I closed my eyes, knock, knock, knock. What in the world? I put on my bathroom again, grabbed my flashlight and went downstairs a second time. Nothing there but the squirrel in the rat trap. But this time I noticed his eyes were on me. The huge kill bar on the rat trap was over the squirrel’s neck, but his eyes were still tracking me. Okay, I thought. I will release him and at least he will quit throwing that trap around. I put on a pair of leather gloves and began to pull up the kill bar. Immediately the squirrel, released from the jaws of death, jumped up in the air and disappeared. I went back to bed. In the morning there were no further signs of squirrels. I reset the rat trap and we will see what I catch today.