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Walter Scott: Hunting mice by robot

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.

Columnist Walter Scott

For those people who do not know about robotic vacuum cleaners, one brand is Roomba. They are programmed to run around a person’s house and pick up all the dirt with no assistance from the homeowner. They can be set to start when a person is out of the house, do its job and return to be charged.

It can also be started by and send messages via a cell phone. The messages it sends to the owner that is not around is usually, “I am stuck.” This is good to know, but a person cannot do anything about a robot being stuck under the couch if they are not home.

My son, Damon, has one such Roomba. He is generally pleased with the work it does, other than the fact it does get stuck occasionally. When returning from work, he must search the house to find where Roomba is hiding.

Last week, when the weather turned bitterly cold, a mouse got in his house. One can not blame the mouse for not wanting to freeze to death, but what was in store for him was worse than death by hypothermia.

Damon put a sticky trap in an obscure location, so the dog would not get caught, to capture the nasty little mouse. Not giving it another thought, Damon went off to work. A few hours later, he got a message from Roomba. It was stuck. He made a mental note that he would have to find it when he got home.


Arriving home that evening, he did not have to look far. Roomba was in the middle of the kitchen floor with a sticky trap stuck to its front. On the sticky trap, just in front of the brushes was a terrified mouse.

From the sticky tracks left around the living room and kitchen, Roomba had found the trap, complete with mouse, and proceeded to spread the trap glue everywhere it went. With heated floors, the glue spread easily everywhere the robot traveled.

The mouse was riding along, expecting to get eaten any second by this growling machine. Eventually, enough glue worked out of the sticky trap onto one of the drive tires, all Roomba could do was go in a tight circle until the battery wore down.

After dispatching the unfortunate mouse, Damon set about cleaning the glue from the floor and the robot. Several types of toxic chemicals were used and after a couple of hours, things were back to normal. It could have been worse.

A friend has a Roomba and a large dog that stays in the house. One day, unbeknownst to the homeowners, the dog developed an upset stomach after they left for work. Unable to get outside when the need arose, the poor dog had diarrhea in the middle of the floor.

At its preset time, their Roomba started on its appointed rounds. Finding an especially soiled spot in the middle of the floor, it worked diligently to clean the spot, only making matters worse. By the time they got home later that afternoon, most of the floors in the house had been painted brown.

Cleaning the floor was a mess, but cleaning the Roomba was impossible. Every filter, brush and crevice in the robot was covered. I think they threw their Roomba away.

A robot to clean one’s floors is a very nice convenience most of the time, unless it runs into something it should not. They do not do well on dog messes and are not good for hunting mice.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.
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