Here's the Scoop: April 9, 2014
Real animal power
The strength of vehicles is typically measured in horsepower. When a car or truck is lacking in “get up and go,” it’s often joked that horsepower has been replaced by squirrel power. I’ve added a new level of action (or inaction) to this description: mouse power.
With the exception of the small group of folks who view mice as “cute” and think they make neat pets, most of us have little use for mice. Cats are an exception to this rule, of course.
Personally, I’m among those don’t have a lot of use for mice. The sight of a mouse doesn’t send me jumping on a chair and smacking pots and pans together in an effort to shoo them away, but they are kind of gross in a disease-carrying way. I do enjoy trapping the occasional mouse, but it’s not like I have them mounted or anything. But, I might start.
I always thought that when we moved out of town, the biggest challenge for our vehicles would be getting up and down some substantial hills after big snowstorms. I was wrong. In the past few years, my car has had: 1. A bumper chewed through by a porcupine. 2. A door handle ripped off by a bear enticed by the irresistible aroma that lingered from a bag of takeout food from Five Guys Burgers and Fries. 3. The air filter chewed apart and replaced by a mouse nest.
Damage not too bad
I’ve mentioned two of these incidents in other columns. The porcupine episode did little damage, but took a small bite out of trade-in value. The bear damage was costly, but was outweighed by the fact that it’s really kind of cool knowing that bears — who can eat pretty much whatever they choose — would have the same type of attraction to Five Guys food that I do. When I want a Five Guys meal, I whine to my wife. When a bear wants such a meal, it simply rips a car apart that was carrying this food. Neat trick. Except the food was already gone — thanks to me.
Anyone familiar with nature realizes that even a hefty mouse is far smaller than even a porcupine and certainly a fraction the size of a bear. That doesn’t mean the damage was less costly. You see, the mouse nest in the air filter space cut off oxygen flow, fouled the spark plugs — and left me walking home on newspaper deadline day — wondering how a two-year-old car that was not a Yugo had simply quit running.
I was…annoyed. A call to the dealer reassured me that any problems were safely within the warranty period. “Unless it’s rodent damage,” he added. What did he know? Had he been reading too many copies of Rodent and Track magazine.
As it turns out, he knew quite a bit. On one hand, I was relieved that my car hadn’t simply stopped running because of poor workmanship. On the other hand, a tiny pest that weighs mere ounces, had shut down a car weighing more than 3,000 pounds during a leisurely evening of nest-building. This was troubling. Maybe it was Mighty Mouse?
Either way, it’s fixed. For now. I guess I should be happy that there’s no evidence that mice are fond of Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Of course, that’s only because they haven’t had this taste treat yet. Once this happened - they’ll be trapped. In a good way.
— Brian Sweeney