Rodent Wars

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

It is that time of year when mice are finding their way into cracks in the house. We had a terrible problem last year, and it is starting again. This is a short essay on our issues with the ongoing battle of Mice and Men.

  Rodent Wars


It began with a cat.  Why is it that a house with cats seems a "hospitable" place for mice to live?  Perhaps they have some devilish wish to combat.  Cats can smell a mouse, and the mouse can smell the cat.  Do they immediately call to arms when one is in the proximity of the other?  It must be a required challenge, set eons ago when each was created.

So, back to the mouse.  We all have stories to tell of our battles with these minute creatures that can find their way into any little crack, crevice or hole in the side of an abode.  Mice began finding the northwest passage into our house by our 10th year in it.  They may have always been there but I didn't happen to notice their presence until our house began to fill with children.

Our first experience occurred when Erin, my 7 year old, discovered one little mouse hugging the foundation where the patio was attached.  She was all excited and wanted to make a pet of it.  I saw it as an opportunity to try an experiment to teach a little science to the three kids.  Rob, my 5 year old, was a natural builder.  Kathleen, my 6 year old, was the creative one.  Erin being the oldest was always the leader of the pack.

It was decided, by my guidance, to build a maze to test the mouse's prowess.  We took some old wood molding and cut it into small bites of walls, then adhered them with wood glue to the inside of an old bureau drawer.  The maze was fun to make and all the children had their input as to the amount of twists and turns, and then where we would create the center of the maze with the mouse bait (in this case, some very strongly scented natural peanut butter.)

We did not take into account that mice can jump.  As we watched this mouse run the course, it only took a minute for it to jump out of the drawer and disappear under our baseboard.  I immediately sent Erin for a broom, but try as we all might, that mouse could not get shooed out of its hiding place.  That was the first mouse that knowingly got into the house.  From that point on, the battle to be vermin free became our obsession.

At one point, we had three cats.  One long winter, a mouse managed to find a home inside our china closet.  When you entered the room, you could discern the unique scent that could only mean a mouse.  The entire room seemed filled with it.  All three of our cats posted themselves along the perimeter of the low boy portion of the china closet.  It was quite amusing to see a cat on each side of the cabinet, with noses twitching as they waited patiently for the mouse, or mice, to make a mistake and come out.  It took three days, but hunger finally brought the mouse to its knees.  It came out, and our middle cat, Nahla, pounced and got the mouse.  We heard her grab the mouse, then we heard a squeak, then there was no more sound.  We went to investigate, and on the carpet, broken and bloody, lay that little guy.  Triumphantly, I flushed it down the toilet.

It is now 22 years later and the battle continues.  The amount of mice in this house is unknown.  We hear them gnawing in nearly every wall, and the bowl of water we place on the floor for the cats usually has at least one drowned mouse a week floating around in it.  We have found them flat on the cement basement floor, as if they fell out of the rafters only to meet their crushed end.  Occasionally one finds its way into a cats mouth, but primarily the cats find it more fitting to sleep curled up on a counter or soft cushion.  If they see a mouse scurry across the floor, they watch interestingly for a minute or two, then yawn and go back to sleep.

The winter of 2014 has been especially bad.  I realized that we had a problem in our new kitchen cabinets when I opened my dishtowel drawer and found many small black specks coating the towels.  It was apparent that mice had penetrated the self contained cabinets somehow.  We were assured that since each cabinet was its own individual construction, the fortress could not be breached.  Unless the mice were already living in the cabinets when they were delivered, that guarantee is pretty much an out and out lie. Of course, the mice may have come with the cabinets, but we can never be sure.  If they did breach the cabinet "box", it may have been through the hole where the plumbing pipe was cut.  Upon close inspection, we saw no holes or gaps anywhere within the line of cabinets.  However they got in, we now have mice running around in them, and our war has begun anew.

My first choice for entrapment was with a catch and release trap placed inside the emptied dishtowel drawer.  No, I would not release them anywhere near my house.  I certainly don't want them back.  The first night, I placed natural peanut butter in the trap, and lo and behold I had a mouse inside of it the next morning.  I felt delighted that it worked so well.  I then took a freshly recycled Folgers can, placed the very much alive mouse inside, capped it, and tossed it into the recycling can for garbage pick up. 

The next night, I set two traps.  I had a restless night so began haunting the drawer, only to find that both traps were continually sprung, but there was no mouse inside of them.  I kept adding more peanut butter, resetting them, and a few hours later I would have the same result.  The last time I set them, I caught one mouse.  I was overjoyed, but wasn't sure how to get it out of the trap.  I had no more Folgers cans. 

I decided on a pint canning jar.  It had been in the refrigerator for about 3 months, filled with extra pumpkin pie filling.  I scooped out the pumpkin, then opened up the trap and shook the mouse out.  Well, that mouse sprung out of the jar so fast I didn't have time to blink.  There he was bouncing off my walls, and trying to quickly get away.  I got him with an overturned bowl, somehow managed to get it in the sink, and I began running water.  I could see his tail wiggling outside of the bowl.  I still had to figure a way to get him into a container.

At last I tried a quick maneuver by lifting the bowl slightly, then clapping the jar over the mouse before he escaped.  Now I had a bowl for a cover, and a very upset mouse coated with orange pumpkin, trying to jump up to push the bowl off so he could escape.  I stood perplexed.  How was I going to get this mouse into a container big enough, without losing him again if he successfully jumped out of the jar?

I began opening cabinets, looking for a near empty box of crackers or cereal.  I finally spied an oversized camp coffee pot on the top shelf.  It was perfect for the task.  The entire jar went into the pot, and I clapped on the cover.  This time I would not put that mouse in a garbage can.  Instead, I took a journey.  The bizarre view of me getting in my car with a huge black coffee pot caused the neighbor across the street to pause in wonderment.  Why was I taking my coffee pot with me at 8:30 in the morning on a winter day when the temperature was around 13 degrees?  I didn't bother to tell her why.  I thought it best just to let her puzzle over it.

I drove to the next town which was an historic mill town.  It had many old factories along a river.  One such factory had been converted into a storage facility, and it nestled right along the river edge and had a moderate parking lot.  I pulled in, and released the now orange coated mouse into a 4 foot high snow bank. Wet and bedraggled, that mouse dug into the snow, and soon all I could see was a spot of orange where he had been.  There was no way this mouse was going to find his way back to my house, 6 miles away. 

The battle did not end there, however.  The next night I set the two traps again, and once again haunted the drawer.  Every time I looked, the traps had been sprung with peanut butter eaten, and mouse gone.  By morning, I had not procured a single mouse.  At last, I turned the traps over, and much to my amazement, each trap (made of very smooth, thick plastic) had a hole gnawed away at the base.  This begged a question.  Did the hole get gnawed from the inside, or did a mouse gnaw from the outside of a sprung trap, to get at the peanut butter treat inside?  I almost set a video camera to find out. 

I tossed the traps, and for three nights had no trap.  The mouse droppings filled the drawer once again, and I also noticed in my corner cabinet with the turntable inside, that the cabinet bottom had a thick coating of more mouse droppings.  How many mice are living in my cabinets?

My sister was apprised of my dilemma.  She told me she no longer uses any conventional traps.  She found a product that was similar to fly paper.  The mouse gets stuck to a square pad and can only be removed if you cut off their feet.  I told her I hated to kill the mice.  I wanted to give them a fighting chance, just not in my cabinets.  She said they do not belong in ones pantry, and deserve our fullest wrath, and if they take a chance and enter our respectable sanctuaries, then they deserve a proper ending.  I compare it to capital punishment for crimes against humanity.  However she convinced me to get these glue traps, as much as my heart is heavy that I am knowingly killing another living creature.  What choice do I have?  They will eventually eat my wiring, and then my house will burn down from an electrical fire, then none of us will have a place to live. 

The first night of using the glue traps is under my belt.  I caught one mouse.  Tonight I try again.  The lady who sold me the traps said if you see one mouse, you have 13.  Well, I have seen 4 mice.  That means I have only , lets see, 4 x 13 = 52.  Take 52, subtract 4, that leaves me with just 48 more mice to go.  Well, it has been a long winter. 

Submitted: November 06, 2014

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Add Your Comments:


B Douglas Slack

Outstanding, Julyn. I love this. Starting off with gentleness just doesn't work with mice. Then, you find yourself b eing forced to bring in the WMD's (Weapons of Mice Destruction). Our cat is similar to yours: "Oh, look, there's a mouse..." Any attempt to prod her into movement meets with disdain.

I wish you luck. Fortunately, we don't have them here, but one never knows, do one?


Sat, December 19th, 2015 6:11pm


Thankyou for your comment. We may have finally got them under control. Haven't heard or seen them for awhile. No hell from the cat, just constant vigilance.

Sat, December 19th, 2015 1:30pm

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