This has been a banner year for mice in our house. We’re experiencing a level of rodentiation that is the stuff of legends. Future generations of exterminators will speak of it in hushed tones.
*Helpful Definition: Rodentiation refers to an extreme infestation of mice. If the infestation involves rats, the term used is exodusical rodentiation. This describes the mass exodus of people from the afflicted property, with me knocking old ladies to the ground in an effort to be the first one out. These are technical terms rarely used except by those of us in the VAC (Vermincular Abatement Community.)
I have a problem reconciling the loveable cartoon image of mice (think Jerry of Tom & Jerry fame or Mighty Mouse) with reality. Wild mice are dark brown and dirty gray, not sparkling white like lab mice. I left the “awww, cute” reaction behind long ago. There’s nothing cuddly about them.
My kitchen counter has become a major mouse roadway, as evidenced by their tiny, black, cigar-shaped calling cards. They’re getting Stimulus money for infrastructure improvement, like the Bridge to Pantry project.
I know the vast majority of city folk are saying “eeew” right about now, and are mentally hopping up on chairs in their slippers and housecoats. I’ve become somewhat callused about it. Mice are a fact of life in the country. When it’s cold outside, they want to be inside. It’s nice and warm; there are plenty of off-season decorations and important documents to make nests of, and unless I construct a hermetically sealed chamber for a pantry, there’s plenty of food to munch on.
We caught two of the bewhiskered vermin just last night. And when I say “we”, I mean Beeby, our cat, and me. We’re the resident exterminators.
Beeby comes by her job title courtesy of countless years of evolution. She and her feline sisterhood have honed their skills until they are unmatched in the animal kingdom as crafty and often cruel huntresses.
As for me, I didn’t sign up for the job, I stumbled into it. There weren’t any other applicants.
My hubby is way too macho to jump up on a chair and shriek “eeew” when we see a mouse. He has a live and let live attitude that I really admire, except that it leaves me in the role of Bwana, the great hunter. Our two daughters are surprisingly squeamish about mice, given that they grew up in the country. It seems the expression necessity is the mother of invention means the mother has to deal with all the necessity.
So it’s up to Beeby and me to take care of (rodent) business. I’d say we’re about evenly matched in number of kills.
Her hunting and trapping skills are far superior to mine. But she loses points for ambivalence towards our quarry. Sometimes she hesitates to administer the coup de grace. Beeby can’t make up her mind whether the mouse is supposed to be a toy, a present, or lunch.
I’ve seen Beeby catch one, carry it around gently in her mouth, then release it so she can chase it all over again. Talk about playing with your food!
Last month, I found no less than 3 mice under the Christmas tree. Or at least one carcass that clearly had been a mouse, and two little bits that look like kidney beans. It seems there are certain organs that cats don’t like. This illustrates two, important facts:
1) Cats really are finicky eaters, as shown in that commercial with the obnoxious, fat, white cat haughtily deigning to eat out of a champagne glass.
2) Our cat understands the true meaning of Christmas. I hope she wasn’t upset that I opened her gifts early.
I don’t want to become blasé about taking any life, no matter how small. So I bait little plastic tunnels with peanut butter and trap the mice live. I used to take them outside and let them go, until my helpful hubby pointed out that there must be a secret entry into the house that the rodent underground knew all about. I was likely to be catching the same mouse over and over again.
Now when I catch one, I set it out on the deck for a couple of days, still in the trap. The cold weather does the killing, not me. A fine distinction, I know, but it leaves me my illusions that I am not a cold-hearted killer.
Come spring our problem will be over. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking I could do some research on the relative merits of various peanut butters as bait. I could determine whether mice prefer chunky or creamy, natural vs. processed, and if choosy meeces really choose Jiff.
I’m hoping to get some Stimulus money for this important research project.
The red shoes are a nice touch with the exterminator-extraordinaire garb. I count myself among the squeamish and I think I’d just sign the deed over the mice and get the hell out. I guess I bear the scars of that family of squirrels who took up residence in our attic years ago (shudder).
Hmmm, Dr. Peg-o-leg advises some aversion therapy to get over your fear of rodents. Perhaps if you had hazelnuts glued to your body, then were locked in a room full of squirrels, you would come to terms with our bushy-tailed friends.
I think I’m just gonna stick with avoidance.
I think I enjoy your illustrations as much as I do your writings!
Thanks! Beeby doesn’t think it looks much like her, though.
Your pic of Beeby needs to have the snot-nose look added to it, since Beeby is always sneezing from allergies (perhaps to mice???) while sitting in your lap (or mine, as the case may be!).
Awe, she’s self-conscious enough about that. She isn’t sitting on my lap any more as she is banned from the living room now due to that little peeing problem I mentioned before.
Peg….this blog comes just in time…you MUST call “Southern Trappers”.
I can’t believe the timing – everyone has some sort of infestation today! Check out my famous brother and sister-in-law who are now big TV commercial stars!
With all due respect Peg- watching the little rodent suffer and eventually freeze to death is quite cruel….. Enjoyed your post though!
It’s tough to know what to do. If I leave out poison or snap-traps, I run the risk of hurting my cat. It’s never an easy thing to kill a living thing, no matter the method 😦
In our home this has year has come to be known as “the year of the mouse” I caught one the other night in a bucket. Told myself to just kill it. I could not do it, so I scolded him. He promised that he would never return, and I let him go. Trapping, Poisoning, and freezing them to death is one thing but smashing their little heads with a hammer seems a little murderous to me.
I’m with you on the hammer (shudder.) Although I admire your humanitarian impulses, I suspect that he and his buddies sat around last night, drinking mouse beer and sneering at you while planning their re-entry into your home. After about 2 weeks mouse-free, there was one in the trap when I got home last night. You have to hold those live-catch traps open with your hand to get the mouse out. There’s a very real risk the mouse will scamper out, onto your fingers and up your sleeve if you try to release them. What’s a homeowners to do?