Friday, December 14, 2007

Of mice and men

Most of the time, living in an older house is quaint and charming. But sometimes, and too often as of late, it's a major pain in the ass.

Last Saturday, we discovered that we have mice in our kitchen and dining room. Every day since then has been spent systematically trying to find out where they are getting in and catching them. We've caught 8 so far.

Highlights of the catching them part: one trap caught two at once! No pretty pictures for the blog tho, since I refuse to even look at these mice, dead or alive. Unless of course one darts from the oven to the dishwasher as I enter the room. My husband keeps asking me why he should be the one to set the traps and pick them up. Feminist or not, it is just so absolutely out of the question for this Goddess of Pomona to pick up dead mice. Period, end of story. Definitely one of those aspects of life where I will take advantage of being a woman.

For those who think it's inhumane to kill a mouse (count Mr. Big among you - oh and my husband seems to be moving in that direction as well) we did try out a trap that keeps the mouse alive, while trapping him inside a plastic tube that he can not escape. We caught a baby mouse this way. Problem was where the heck to take him to let him out once he was in the tube. I don't want to get in trouble, so I won't say whether we took the baby mouse east or west or how many footsteps away from our house, but you're welcome to guess.

Yesterday we thought for sure that we found the point of entry: an old gas pipe into the dining room where the wood was nibbled down around it. We sealed it off with steel wool. We'd already blue taped off the area around the pocket doors, since pocket doors are necessarily open to the walls. And last night I breathed a sigh of relief that we were near the end. But now today it looks like somewhere behind, or in, our dishwasher is the culprit. Tomorrow a guy is coming over to help my husband move the dishwasher out, so hopefully we will have some real relief soon. Figures it would be the one modification to the original 1911 kitchen that would be the problem!

The temptation to get a cat is great, but I am reading conflicting information as to whether that would even help, plus I'm pretty sure our dog would want to eat the cat.

I read that mice and rats hate peppermint oil, but that doesn't seem to be the case, as we are swimming in candy cane oil over here and still being invaded like the plague.

As for me, I'm pretty freaked out. I'm definitely phobic about mice and rats. In the spirit of the season, I just look forward to the day when I can confidently proclaim:

"Twas the night before Chistmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse"

I am told that with the cold temperatures, mice do try to come inside homes. So be sure to check around your pantry areas for their droppings, especially where you store pet food, trash or recycling. And always clean up droppings with a wet cloth, not with a vacuum.



Ann said...

I adopted a stray kitten a few years ago and have only seen one mouse since then. My cat brought it in and dropped it at my feet to show off.

It was never my plan to adopt a kitten but she kept trying to get into my house and I was afraid that my dog would kill her. I slowly introduced her to my dog and they are great friends now.

I highly recommend adopting a local stray. I've seen some beautiful young strays in the neighborhood lately.

Ed said...

Here are the ugly facts:
Mice can sexually reproduce by 5-6 weeks.
Mice have an average of 6-8 pups a litter.
Mice may produce 5-10 litters a year.
You can do the math.

I'd suggest taking Ann up on her offer. In fact, I think she may have a couple strays. A pregnant stray adopted us, and one became three. Our cats are outdoor only (allergies), and the dog tolerates them. But introduce the dog to the cat slowly.

me said...

I am fairly certain that as of yesterday, the mice are now out of the house. None have eaten the peanut butter or set off a trap in two days. We found two significant access points, and both are now sealed. We still have ugly blue tape on the pocket doors, but at least we know if they try to get in there.

Thanks for the unnerving stats, ed, they will surely help me sleep tighter tonight! I already knew the ugly reality, which is why my husband and I worked not one billable hour in the past week but have been going nuts around here to address the issue. The house is so clean now that I will surly know if they are still around.

We do have a cat hanging around the outside of our house already. The dog usually scares it away before I can befriend it. I'm wondering if I should leave cat food out, but then there's the problem of not attracting rodents. I've heard that the female cats are the best mousers.

We have sprinkled "shake away" on the perimeter of the house, it's deer and other kinds of animal urine that repels rodents, and it's non=toxic. Our shingles are in terrible shape in some areas, but we've done the best we can to seal off the obvious places.

G of P