So, to the other major animal specifically authorized to be in our house over the winter: the mouse. We'd caught him Thanksgiving morning and didn't set him out because it was too cold. Finally, it's not too cold. The original plan had been that we would release him in a nearby nature reserve which we know to host a mouse population, and we avoided socializing with him or even giving him explicitly a name, although when you do that ``Mouse'' becomes the name anyway, but in the hopes of making it easier to release him again. It would still be hard.
And ultimately we couldn't quite bring him to the nature center and let him go. We just worried that this was too far, too alien, and how would we know they wouldn't trap him anyway and maybe do something unspeakable? We decided finally to let him go in the garage, near the population of other mice we know to be around, and hope that he wouldn't just go right back into the house.
The last days we expected to keep him, of course, we hoped to get some decent pictures and maybe movies of him running the wheel. This was his cue to never dare venture out of his very packed nest, possibly because he never got really comfortable with us being too near and holding those cameras can't have made us look more safe and friendly. Between the distance we had to keep and the low lighting that left him feeling safe, no, we never got a really good picture of him, but there's at least a couple shots showing him through the translucent plastic tube he felt comfortable using to watch us at least.
When we finally brought him out to the garage, we took the entire cage, on the theory he'd probably want somewhere familiar he could retreat to. Also the cage smelled distinctly of him, so he'd have some territory that was marked as his own as he tried to set up shop near other mice, presumably including other male mice. We set it on a shelf in the garage that as best we could tell tell didn't have other male mice residents, opened the door, and walked back. We didn't see any sign that he came out, though in the middle of the day as it was he likely wouldn't have.
Since then we've gone back looking for evidence that he has come out, or has stayed in, or anything. There's some indirect clues --- food seems to have been taken, the wheel may have been run on a couple times --- but nothing to prove that anyone's still using the nest, or that if anyone is, it's him.
We haven't spotted any mice returning to the house. Presumably conditions are mouse-friendly enough in the garage at least until autumn sets in.
Trivia: From June 1691 through October 1693 the English crown issued 61 patents altogether. Eleven of them were for diving engines. Source: Devil Take the Hindmost, Edward Chancellor.
Currently Reading: The 1986 Official Guide To Alton Towers, John Seccombe, and no, I have no idea why the Michigan State University library has a copy of this, and forthat matter, this and not the 1985 or 1987 (or more modern) guides.
PS: The Math Blog Statistics, May 2014, my monthly and inexplicably liked report on how things are going.