In spite of regular visits from a comprehensive pest-control service and a cleaner devoted to rodent control, we often find evidence of mice in our pre-WWI Idaho farmhouse. In addition to the professional interventions, Steve has stuffed openings with steel wool and spray foam. But with an unmaintained five-acre field (former pasture) just south of the house, we should not be surprised by an occasional mouse, especially in the kitchen.
During my most recent stay in Idaho last week, I spotted a half-full bottle of canola oil sitting in a kitchen cabinet. I noticed that the bottle had no lid. Thinking that the oil must be rancid, I was grateful that I hadn't used it in the home-made banana-nut muffins I'd served at a get-together for in-laws and cousins. Then I sniffed it, and it didn't smell quite right. Finally looking down into the bottle, I saw two small mice snuggled into the bottom. (Maybe there were three, but who's counting?)
Over the years, I've come upon dead mice in various stages of decomposition, but usually they have been dry and crispy. These were plump and artificially healthy-looking, rather like a friend who was on steroids to counteract the ravages of chemotherapy.
If I'd had a lid for the canola oil bottle, I'd have screwed it on before trashing the bottle and its grisly contents. Instead I improvised a lid with aluminum foil, tied the whole thing inside a small plastic bag and carried all the contents of our tall kitchen waste basket to the outdoor bin that would be picked up the following Monday morning.
In retrospect, or while experiencing "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" ala Wordsworth's Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, I was able to put two and two together. If mice liked canola oil so much that they would crawl into a small opening and drown in it (finding it "to die for" as people say), why could I not use an open container of canola oil as a mousetrap?
So it was that I set a bistro glass half full of canola oil on our sink counter when I left the farm last Saturday. An attached note asks anyone who finds dead mice in it to empty and replenish the glass from the large bottle at hand. A stainless steel mixing bowl with about 2" of canola oil in it is sitting outside in a spot where our pest-control specialist has trapped a number of mice. Finally, I placed a small, half-full canola oil bottle between a heavily infested shed and the spot where we park our car.
If this is, in fact, 'a better mousetrap,' I welcome the hoards at my door.