Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gluten-Free Ultimate Mouse Bait

The above pictures show a recent gluten-free cheesecake recipe we were experimenting with. This was to be a gluten-free peanut-butter-cup cheesecake of sorts (peanut butter cheesecake, with peanut-infused crust, all topped with a chocolate layer). Well, even though it *looks* rather good, it was just "OK", and needed some more fine tuning.

So, the question became: what to do with an entire cheesecake that does not meet the cut?

To begin with, I ate a fair amount of this cake myself. Like I said, it did not meet the cut for what I consider "top of the line" desserts, so the recipe will get tuned further before release to the public. But, it was not TOO bad,... it mainly suffered from texture issues, and was a bit thicker/springier than I wanted. It lacked some of the smoothness and creaminess that it should have had (I think there was too much peanut butter proportionately, and the next attempt should perhaps use part Marscapone cheese instead of all Cream Cheese - which is substantially thicker than the former).

But, I tired of this cake, and contemplated its removal from the house.

Perhaps the Mouse / Mice will like it?!
Instead of just pitching the cake into the compost, I decided to address a second issue of the moment (or season)... one that is an inevitability of country-living from what I have determined through conversations with everybody else living in a 20 mile radius here in the country: mice!

Well, it turns out that this time of year is especially prone to mice wanting to move into the house. When the farmers pick the crops and return the fields to nothing more than a bit of thatch, the mice seem compelled to seek refuge in some place a little more stable - and warmer - the closest human residence!

Trapping with Cheesecake
We use these really effective no-kill traps (we refuse to kill animals that are not of any threat to us). And, experimentation with baits had previously determined that the only thing more desirable than cheese was peanut-butter. So, how about a gluten-free peanut-butter-cup cheesecake instead?

The results are clear: mice prefer this cheesecake to all other bait by a factor of about 4 to 1. Seriously. They will ignore traps containing just cheese, and/or just peanut butter, and choose the mouse-bait recipe containing both of their favorite ingredients in one -- PB Cheesecake.

One of our catches:

Isn't it cute? The leaves around it should give a sense of scale... it is only about 2 inches long (tail excluded).

This one had very distinctive markings: those little tan patches on each side coupled with gray. Most mice have been either all gray or all tan, but this one was a hybrid. And, after release, it posed nicely for the picture, holding still for nearly a minute as I talked to it and told it not to return (I do no think my speech helped: I swear this SAME one showed up for "seconds" 2 days later). Oh well. I have a lot of cake for it to eat while I figure out where it gets in.

And Another...
We have also had these ultra-cute "Meadow Jumping Mice" (credit: picture borrowed from someone else online -- ours looked identical, but did not hold still for a photo):

These guys are SUPER TINY... barely 1-1.5" around when sitting like this. And, they "hop" around like little kangaroos. We see them hopping around outside the basement windows every so often, collecting grass and seeds (and, probably hauling that back into some nook of our house.). They might as well be a wild pygmy hamster or pygmy gerbil or whatever. Very, very similar. Too bad I got rid of the aquarium when we moved, or I would have been tempted to have one as a "pet".

Eradication continues...
I still have a lot of that gluten-free peanut-butter cheesecake recipe (attempt) in the fridge where it should last long enough for me to figure out where these little critters are entering the place from. Although they are cute and all, I wish I could just enter into a pact or accord with them whereby I deliver the cheesecake to some OUTSIDE location for their consumption, and they stay out of my house, instead of me needing to bait the no-kill traps that then force me to take them for a nice long walk out into the woods or field for release. But, such is... country living!


marylandceliac said...

This is a very interesting, unique, and funny post! Good luck with the mice and the cheesecake recipe!

Lynn said...

I think the mice will never leave if you keep feeding them such good stuff (they are not stupid). I'm in an apartment and we stuff steel wool into any small spaces that the mice could get into. Since I did that I have not had a mouse problem but other tenents still do.

Jenna said...

Hi!! I'm a celiac girl and just found your blog...we are having a mouse problem ourselves. They freak me out!! I'm on the warpath right!

Mike Eberhart said...

Lynn, you are perhaps right... those mice may get a taste for the cheesecake and keep coming back. Thank you for that steel-wool suggestion! I am going to try that the next time I find a "suspected entry point". My biggest challenge has been just figuring out where they could possibly get in.

Jenna: good luck with your own de-mousing efforts. Don't get TOO freaked... these little critters just want a warm place to spend the winter, and/or an easy snack. I do not blame them for that, as it would beat living outdoors. And, they are rather interesting too... one thing nice about the catch-and-release (aka, "no kill") traps is I have time to get a good look at them and see how they behave. Each has a different personality... some I nearly have to BEG to come out of the trap when I am releasing them into the woods. We have had some just sit there looking at us, with an expression like, "now what am I supposed to do"? Others will climb a tree and watch me (or, use it to spot the point which they came from perhaps). Some, on the other hand, run as fast as they can away from me. There are timid ones, bold ones, you name it. But, I have yet to catch one that was not rather cute :)

Maryland: thanks, and I like your little logo "gluten free optimist"! Optimism is at the heart of this article I think... I could look at the mice in a very bad way, if I chose to, but I see it all as an opportunity to get an up-close understanding of their behaviour, a reason to take some nice long walks regularly (to release them), and to perfect my mouse-baiting methods, (and, ultimately, to learn how to keep them out) :)

Sheri said...

That's just funny. Annoying as heck to have a mouse problem, but yet funny. Sorry to giggle at your expense :-)

Terina said...

GF Flops as critter bait! That's a new delightful idea! I'm doing it!

kay said...

Congratulations to you for making the decision to use a no-kill mousetrap! My mother had a critter problem, too. She hired a specialist to come in and plug up ever little hole and crevice in the house. It cost $800, which is expensive, but the problem was fixed and has stayed fixed!

Fatcat said...

Don't you have to take them a mile or more away from your house so they won't come right back in?

Mike Eberhart said...

Yes, we ended up learning that they had to be transported a mile or more, otherwise we'd have the same ones showing up for a second-round gluten-free snack :)

And, since driving them a couple miles, we have hardly had any. In fact, since a neighborhood wild/stray cat showed up on the scene in mid-winter, I have not seen a mouse since. The cat is a rather good mouse-hunter from what we can gather. Although we will not kill mice, we let the cat pursue the things if milk alone does not keep it feeling full. So, the poor mice have to be very watchful of the cat now.

Oneweek22 said...

I would like to add that the deer mouse in the pic with the leaves is not a hybrid at all. Baby deer mice are born gray and change into the nice brown coat of an adult sometime during adolecence. What you are seeing is the shedding of the baby coat and slowly replacing it with the adult coat. Much like a fawn loses its white spots for a solid brown coat as an adult. Google it.