Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Mouse in the House

A mouse scurried from beneath the bathroom vanity, beside my foot, and to the back of the toilet yesterday morning while I was having a pee. I screamed, jumped up, flung the InStyle Magazine I was perusing into the bathtub and considered my options while pulling up my pajama bottoms.

1. look behind the toilet to see if it was still there
2. hope no one heard me scream and deny it ever happened so I don't have to deal with it
3. admit to the rest of the family that we have mice again and have to keep food contained, then go buy poison

I went with number three. Our daughter peeked behind the toilet, where it was obvious the mouse dove down a hole around a pipe into the space between the main floor and basement, a maze of duct work, piping and two-by-fours that allows ample room for any number of mice. And their children. And their children. Etc.

We had a mouse sighting a couple of months ago and went through the same process, though that mouse was scurrying around our upstairs and eventually showed up dead on our bedroom carpet leaving bloodstains that took several soakings in spot remover to get out.

We also know that where there is one mouse, there can be hundreds.

Early in our home owning history, I was more averse to poisoning the critters. I'd worked in a pet store, had pet mice, heard stories about how my parents had a wild mouse living in their apartment in Berkeley that they fed and considered an incidental pet. It seemed romantic at the time.

But my aversion led to a delay in action, and within forty-eight hours of seeing the first mouse, we had baby cereal boxes emptied in the night, mouse droppings on the kitchen counter and one had taken up residence in the toaster. Which I discovered AFTER putting a slice of bread in and pushing down the bar and instead of toast popping out, a mouse did.

Needless to say, the toaster left the house--I carried it by the cord--and was never used again. Sad, sort of; it was a pretty vintage toaster. But egads, no!

It took days and a lot of poison to wipe out that infestation. The plague was caused, as often is the case, by the combination of a sudden drop to freezing temperature outside and keeping a compost heap. Mice and rats love compost heaps. The toaster incident happened in Tacoma, less famous for rats than Portland, so I can only imagine how many rats would invade if we tried to keep a compost heap here.

The rats already play leap-frog in our ivy and eat the seeds that drop from our bird feeders in broad daylight. And I hear the high school, one block away and situated in the middle of a city park, has mice in the classrooms and rats running down the halls.

My wife, who has a rodent phobia, really shouldn't know this. It will take all the joy out of parent-teacher conference night for her.

For now, there are bait trays in our flooring, in our garage, in the places only rats or mice might go. And I hope the mice eat from them, and die. Preferably not on our bedroom floor. But if that's the only way to get rid of them, I'll take it.

1 comment:

Tari said...

We have rats here on occasion, and once or twice at night I've heard their nasty little feet in the attic about my head. Kind of makes you want to grab a pillow and sleep in the minivan.

And you can't make a 70 year old house behave, and seal up every part of it so they don't get in. We've tried, we've spent the money, and it's never going to happen. The house is a sieve, and overall, that's healthier, so I guess I'll take it.

But rats: ugh.