Mousetastrophe

Friday afternoon, the kids were at a birthday party and I was basking in the glory of having crossed every item off my to-do list. I was feeling pretty good about myself; maybe even a bit smug. I was wiping off the kitchen countertop and opened the cupboard underneath the sink to throw something in the garbage, when I saw something strange. At first I thought I had spilled coffee grounds, but no. No, I always take the little compost bucket out of the cupboard when I throw the coffee grounds away. I moved the compost bucket, and saw more strange black things. My stomach gave a lurch and I googled “mouse droppings.”

That smug, happy feeling dissipated instantly. I took everything out of the cupboard, grabbed the bleach, and started cleaning. I had only a few minutes before picking up the children from the party, so I piled the garbage bags, rags, sponges, garbage pail and compost back under the now bleachy-clean sink cupboard. After returning home, I called my husband in a semi-panic, and as I did so I opened up the lazy susan where I keep the flour, oatmeal, and other baking needs. “OH MY GOD” I screamed into the phone. “THEY’RE IN HERE TOO!” I immediately hung up the phone, threw out the open bag of oatmeal, and bleached that cupboard as well. My husband was working on something “more major” than a “mouse” and so it would be a while before he was home. 

Now, I’m a feminist. I shovel snow in the winter, I have been known to clean the gutters, a few weeks ago I even got on a ladder and pulled the decorative scarecrows out of the garage loft. But mice? No. I did what any girl would do in my situation: I called my parents. My dad answered the phone, and in response to his normal salutation I began shrieking that there was a MOUSE in the HOUSE and it was in the CUPBOARD and AIEEEEEEEE. My dad listened for a few minutes, then said what all dads say when faced with hysterical daughters: “Here, I’ll let you talk to your mother.” Within thirty minutes my dad was at my house, setting up traps under the sink and in the lazy susan: two snap traps and one “mouse inn”.

At this point I felt like burning the whole house to the ground, or maybe having a stroke, but on the advice of my husband I poured myself a glass of wine, ready to prepare dinner. SHAKY, but ready to make dinner. Then, I heard it. I looked under the sink and the little door to the “mouse inn” was closed. AIEEEEEE. Mice mice MICE. Not two minutes after that, I heard a loud bang against the front window. A large smear, studded with feathers, was on the glass, and a bird lay motionless in the front garden. Mouse under the sink. Dead bird in the front garden. Possibly more mice in the house – who knows? I am not a catastrophizer. Normally, I can roll with the punches. But at this point I basically felt I was being overrun by vermin and there was a dead bird in the front yard and I couldn’t take it anymore. THE MICE COULD BE ANYWHERE, I thought. At that point, I broke. I started sobbing. I sobbed while making dinner. I sobbed while the children ate – I couldn’t eat. I cried so much that Mark begged me to please stop being so sad and Jake said Mom, we can get the mice, the mice are small, it’s okay, Mom. I just cried and cried while cleaning up the children’s dinner. The children fled downstairs to the safety of their video games while I cried. Two hours of crying later, my husband came home.

Husband: You have GOT to pull yourself together.

Me: *ceaseless sobbing*

Husband: It’s just a MOUSE. Look, I stopped at Canadian Tire. I bought all these traps.

Me: *hysteria*

Husband: You’re letting yourself get all worked up. You need to pull yourself together!

Me: *gulping, choking, sobbing* I think there’s a mouse under the sink.

At that point, my husband threw the “mouse inn” directly into the garbage, along with the dead bird. I hardly slept at all on Friday night. I kept hearing things. My husband kept telling me that I was “letting myself” get “all worked up” but it turns out I was right. Because Saturday morning I slowly opened the cupboard to find all the bait gone but no mice in the traps. There was apparently a mouse party, with droppings on top of the compost container, and in the lazy susan, a similarly stripped mouse trap, holes in the bags of chia and quinoa, and NO DEAD MICE.

Later my mother commented that maybe the mice were vegan, and my friend Lyn thought that next thing you know they would be into the nutritional yeast. FORTUNATELY the nutritional yeast is kept in a glass mason jar, so that was safe, but as for the rest, well.

It turns out the traps my dad had brought over were not working – obviously – and so my husband started setting up the variety of traps that he had bought: old fashioned snap traps, poisonous bait ones, and the humane catch-and-release kind. Just as a foreshadowing, I will inform you that the humane traps were also the least effective.

While he was setting traps, I went out and bought mason jars and stainless steel containers, and the rest of my day was spent putting all foodstuffs into such containers. The upside of this gross event is that I have super clean and organized cupboards now.

My husband went back to the office, leaving me to take the kids to karate. At this point I was nearly insane with lack of sleep, fretting about the Hanta virus, and the (probably ridiculous) thought that I would one day open up my sweater drawer to find a horde of mice nesting there. After karate I gingerly opened the cupboard to discover that the only thing grosser than no mouse in the trap is to find a mouse in the trap. My husband was a good three hours from coming home and so after I heaved for a few minutes I called my parents – again – and my dad came over with his thick leather gloves to deal with the aftermath. Dads and their daughters, am I right? I was awash in gratitude as my dad reset the trap, and it wasn’t five minutes after he left when I heard a snap. And I use this as a cautionary tale for those of you sensitive people, like me. If you hear a snap, don’t think that the trap just “went off” “by itself”. I opened the cupboard to see a writhing, twitching mouse. At that point I just went to lie down, feeling like I was having a nervous breakdown.

I’m happy to say that after my husband came home, there were a few more “snaps”, and he sealed around the dryer vent where we think the problem originated. There haven’t been any more issues since Saturday; the cupboards are still clean and smelling festively of bleach and peppermint oil – the latter of which is apparently a mouse deterrent.

So, that was my weekend. Well, not all of it was misery and desperation. There was also this:

The boys got their yellow belts! They’re so proud and so am I. A bright (yellow) spot in an otherwise vermin-ridden weekend.

Comments

  1. I’m glad you found the (probable) entrance they were using. Nothing worse than being unable to find their entry point.

    I know a lot of people on Twitter suggested a cat. As a cat owner, I disagree. Yes, cats catch mice. But one of three things will happen in this scenario: 1) the cat will refuse to kill the mouse, instead preferring to keep it alive because they are so much more INTERESTING when they’re alive, and you will spend 45 minutes with a flashlight, a broom, and a bucket chasing a live mouse around your living room; 2) it will kill the mouse, and bring it and place it on your foot as a present, because kitty LURVES YOU MOMMY; or 3) it will actually kill and eat the mouse, leaving behind a CSI-worthy crime scene.

    All of these things have happened to me. Cats are assholes.

    • Gross. GROSS. Cats are not an option for us, given that we have cat allergies in our house. Also, I don’t really like them. ALSO we have Barkley, who wouldn’t get along with cats, I don’t think.

    • I came here to say nearly this same thing. The one time we had mice many years ago, we also had THREE cats who most certainly did NOT solve the problem. In fact the exterminator advised that the mice were probably first brought in the house alive by one of the cats and got away only to go on to breed more mice In MY HOUSE. Fucking cats. ANYWAY, I feel all of your pain. I found a mouse hiding in the tube of my vacuum and nearly passed out and I’m really not generally girly or a screamer. My husband and I spent several days scrubbing, bleaching, throwing stuff out, and cramming steel wool into even the smallest cracks in our house and then we called an exterminator. We finally got rid of the mice, but it was not a great time.

  2. CHECK YOUR SWEATERS. Seriously. We had a mouse/mice in the house for awhile before we realized it, and it/they made a nest in a stack of cashmere sweaters on a high closet shelf. Holes indiscriminately chewed in my beautiful sweaters — aargh! I’m still pissed off. My favorite mouse trap is this one: http://www.amazon.com/Rat-Zapper-RZ2K001-Classic-RZC001/dp/B002665ZTC It works, it’s not messy, and one can dispose of the remains without touching or really even looking at them.

  3. I feel the same way about Spiders…we had a spider attack last month, 3-5 of them were coming into our master bedroom every evening probably thru the A/C mounted in the window. After a few days of all out crying breakdowns when I couldn’t muster the courage
    anymore to vacuum them up bcuz they were so big and finally when one was hanging above my head in the bathroom one night when I was brushing my teeth… sleeping on the couch for 2 nights and at least 20 of them sucked up in the vacuum, we bought spider spray and my boyfriend took out the A/C. I stayed in the other room while he kept turning on the vacuum and telling me not to come in. He didnt have to tell me twice! lol Apparently there was a nest with like 20 of them around the window..Giant ones! I wouldn’t sleep with the window open even with a good screen for 2 weeks until I knew it was too cold at night for them to survive. I am not too panicky about mice but I am about Spiders so I feel your pain. I am a 35 yr old women and I consider myself pretty capable but I broke down and stomped my feet and began to tear up after not sleeping and not being able to kill another one..demanding my boyfriend to handle it! it happens to the best of us..we all have our kryptonite loll

  4. I am so glad to hear someone else is so grossed out by mice that they become an irrational mess. This summer my husband sealed up a hole under our front steps because a chipmunk was building a best under there. In doing so he sealed in a family of mice. That evening as we were watching tv we saw a few skitter across the floor. I lost control and started sobbing and had an overwhelming desire to move to a new house. My husband set several traps and we went to bed. I then heard skittering sounds again, only to see a little mouse tail flick out from the air return vent beside my bed. At this point my son woke up and complained of a stomach ache. I decided I would rather spend the night (it was midnight by this point) at the emergency room than in my house with mice. I tried to convince the doctors my son had appendicitis so that we could stay all night instead of going back home with the mice. Glad you got rid of them…I understand your irrational fear and loathing of mice!

  5. I cried and shuddered and laughed and wept through this one. I thought our Ant Armageddon this summer was terrible, but mice are way worse. Hope the little fuckers are all dead as a doornail :).

  6. Rachelradiostar says:

    I cannot breathe. Full stop.

  7. Mouse inn…continental breakfast? Fresh sheets? No?
    Cause I was going to come and move into your cupboard.
    I don’t deal with anything that walks on fours…except for my 5 year old when he’s playing “exorcist” when I said no.
    Ok, and there is my asshole dog but he doesn’t count because he’s my first born.
    Not out of my baby canyon though.

  8. I panic when moths get in the house. “SHUT THE DAMN DOOR BEFORE THE MILLERS GET IN!!!” is a phrase I learned as a child and use to this day.

    My mom went to visit my grandparents a few years ago. My Nanny was in her late 80s and Grandad in his 90s. They were both hard of hearing. Which is why they didn’t know the basement — where the guest room is located — was over run by mice. Many, many LOUD mice. Who didn’t take kindly to my mother taking up so much room in the bed. EEP!

    I’m sure your sweaters are fine. Mice don’t really go in for black. Jewel tones are more their cup of tea.

Trackbacks

  1. […] that seems to be my own special characteristic. Good thing my dad is so good about excavating dead mice from my house and being calm in the midst of my total hysteria, elsewise I might get cranky about […]

  2. […] since then, and no more ants. But still. ANTS IN MY PANTRY. This is not as bad as last year’s Moustastrophe, but I am newly motivated to do two things: keep my pantry and cupboards spotlessly clean, and to […]

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