Mouse Wars II: The Empire Strikes Back

It’s been a month since we first confronted a mice invasion in our home—during a bright full moon. Well, the moon is full again, and the problem we thought we’d solved weeks ago turns out to be a lot more intransigent than I had hoped.

4 muisjes op kaasI hate the idea of killing mice. It’s not in my nature. We never had an issue while our dear old Golden Retriever, Ginger, was alive. But Ginger died just over a year ago, and it seems that the mice are having a veritable field day somewhere inside the walls or under the floorboards of our house.

This all started when we were careless enough to leave a bag of birdseed unattended in our garage. Mice discovered it and took it as an invitation to settle in. When I finally sealed off the bag in a plastic bin, they sought refuge inside our warm and cozy home. Under a full moon, they began zipping all over our first floor.

Given that I have scleroderma and am very susceptible to infection, we decided to set traps and stop the invasion. We caught a half dozen mice. Things settled down, and I thought the mice had moved on.

No such luck. When the temperatures dropped a couple of weekends ago to -19º F, all of a sudden we discovered that we were not alone. A mouse popped up in Emily’s room while she was home visiting, to her alarm. We set a trap. No takers.

I set a couple more traps. Nothing. But the mice were leaving their calling cards all over the place—behind the kitchen garbage can, in back of a pile of books near Al’s armchair, in the upstairs bathroom, you name it. One recent morning, Al found a foil-covered peppermint patty that had been dragged from the kitchen table to the floor, the wrapper nibbled to shreds and part of the chocolate chomped away. I’ve got to hand it to them—they know the meaning of teamwork.

Last Friday I went to the hardware store and bought some bait traps. But I didn’t have the heart to set them. Maybe the mice would go away! Maybe they’d realize there really wasn’t any food lying around (no more peppermint patties, for certain) and it was time to move on!

Then I walked into the kitchen Saturday night and saw a mouse darting from the top of the computer cable box (no doubt warming itself). On Sunday, I was working at the kitchen table, too absorbed in writing my novel to get up and check out the slight rustling noise in the dining room. Later, we found a couple of calling cards on the dining room table. Ugh.

So, Monday morning I finally called the pest control professionals. Here’s what I learned: The reason we didn’t catch any more mice had nothing to do with how many mice were left. Mice are smart and they’d figured out that the traps were deadly. And the fact that we’ve found mouse droppings upstairs and down means we have a big problem on our hands.

A mouse expert is coming first thing Friday morning to do an inspection, set the bait and close off any small mouse holes. I wish we didn’t have to go this route, but from the research I’ve done, there really isn’t an alternative when it gets to this point. A mouse’s gestation period is about 20 days. We’ve gone through a few cycles, easily, since all this started, for who knows how many females.

Mice have been on this planet as long as humans. They will probably outlast us, in the end. They make cute pets. They have helped scientists discover much about animal and human behavior. They are entertaining characters in children’s books and cartoons. But they are not welcome to colonize our home.

Here’s hoping, next full moon, I’ll have nothing more to report. May the Force be with us.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.

Image Credit: ChIandra4U

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