The mice are back in town

By Mir
October 1, 2004

I lay awake in bed last night to the pitter-patter of little feet above my head. The plummetting nighttime temperatures have once again convinced the local rodent population that Casa Mir is an acceptable hotel.

When I was in college, I lived two years in a quaint little apartment just off of campus. Both years, I had mice. After some initial disgust I turned it into a matter of pride; I am woman, hear me slay the uninvited. I bought traps; I baited them myself; and I kept a single sheet of paper on my fridge titled “DEATH TOLL” where I made a mark for each mouse taken down in the fight. The mice there–much like my fellow underclassmen–were not the brightest. It was not uncommon for me to rebait the traps in the evening and hear them snap in the cabinet beneath the sink just moments later. I don’t recall ever having a tripped trap that didn’t yield a kill.

Now years and miles have passed, and I find myself in the land of Clever Mice. Either they have gotten smarter, or I have gotten dumber. Quite likely both. I do thank my lucky stars that (knock on wood) I have never seen rodent evidence anywhere in our living space. The day I find a mouse dropping in the kitchen is the day that I lose what is left of my mind and dedicate myself to the Cult Of Autoclaving while I alternate trying to sanitize the kitchen with boiling water and shrieking “Ick! Ick! Ick!” No, these mice are very polite. They hang out in the basement and the attic. They do not run across my toes while I’m watching TV or otherwise make grandiose appearances. I could adopt a “live and let live” attitude save for two things.

First, I store all sorts of things in the basement. Never once did I think to myself, “Self, what could be better than all of this storage for my Christmas decorations and whatnot? Why yes, if only all of my treasured items could be coated in mouse feces, that would just be more than I’d dared hope for!” Last Winter I concluded that I either had a very serious mouse infestation or just a couple of mice with acute Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Either way, I do not look back on my time vacuuming up poop pellets as one of my more cherished memories.

Second, I never use the attic, so you’d think that mice up there wouldn’t be bothersome. But if you think that, you have obviously never lived in a house with mice. All day long the mice sleep. As soon as you turn out the light to slumber, yourself, the mice wake up and commence with the Running and the Scratching. They run back and forth and back and forth, oh the Running! And then! Then! They stop! And you feel sweet relief, but only for a moment. Because then, then comes the Scratching! The Scratching is not only supernaturally deafening, but it sounds very much as if there is an entire horde of militant mice up there chewing up the house. Even if you could manage to tune out this cacophony, you would still be lying awake, poised for the ceiling to collapse and deposit Indiana Jones-like quantities of rodents on your bed.

So, ignoring the mice was pretty much out of the question. I took them on, last Winter, confident that I could handle it. I set traps. The first day, I caught one mouse. I never caught another. I would set four traps at a time in the basement, and in the morning they would all be sprung but empty. That was puzzling. But I perservered! I bought different traps. They didn’t work, either. The Pooping and the Running and the Scratching continued. I despaired.

It was with a heavy heart that I went out and purchased the poison. I have no issues with killing vermin. I have serious issues with animals dying in my walls and stinking up my house. That’s never happened to me, before, because I’ve always been too afraid to use poison on account of hearing a million stories about mice that die in bizarre locations and stink out their host families. But I’d given the traps my best shot, and it was time for the big guns. I started with the little bricks of poison.

The theory behind this stuff is that it makes the mice thirsty. Oh, so thirsty! So the dying rodents politely go back outside to expire whilst they search for water. Now, I don’t know about anyone else’s house, but–shhhh, don’t tell the mice!–there is actually water inside my house, so I was a bit skeptical. I laid out a box worth of poison bricks in my basement and a second batch up in the attic. The next day, the bricks I’d placed in the attic were gone. I spend some time wondering whether this meant there were enough mice to consume every particle, or that the mice were large enough to carry them away. Neither option was appealing. The basement bricks showed more promise: each and every one was nibbled to some degree.

According to the package directions, you should continue baiting until the bait is left untouched. I used up my poison bricks and then moved on to the poison pellets (because the sight of an entire brick disappearing was a bit too unnerving for me). After about ten days, the Running and the Scratching ceased.

Bliss. Briefly.

Then came the aftermath. I went down to the basement to fetch something, and there lay a tiny, adorable, dead mouse on the floor. Yuck. I disposed of him, and looked around for others, and went about my day. A few days later I found another one. Etc. Nowhere on the package does the poison state, “Warning: May cause dead mice to randomly appear underfoot.” But, hey, better on the basement floor than rotting in the walls, right? Right?

Eventually, the bait remained untouched, and no more surprises turned up.

Guess what I found in the basement a couple of days ago! Go on, guess! I’d hoped it was a fluke. And then the nighttime scrambling in the attic started up again. So it’s time to buy some more poison, and steel myself to face life’s tough decisions. Like, do I really want to get that pizza out of the freezer down there, and risk finding belly-up invaders, or could we just eat cereal for dinner tonight? You know what they say… “Out of sight, it doesn’t exist!” No? Crap.


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